Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo
|Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A wonderful collection featuring some of Michael Morpurgo's most memorable and well-loved tales.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 592 pages||Date: September 2013|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Of Lions and Unicorns is a collection of short stories and extracts from Morpurgo’s most popular books. The book is split into five sections, which focus on recurring themes in his writing.
The first section, Only Remembered, opens with a powerful tale based on the author's early childhood and the discovery that his biological father was an actor in the film Great Expectations. Apparently, his mother dropped the bombshell as the family were gathered around the television watching the film one Christmas, which soured the festivities somewhat. This section also contains an extract from the wonderful A Medal for Leroy and I am now compelled to get a copy of the whole book to find out what happens next after the arrival of the mysterious letter, the point at which the narrative frustratingly came to an abrupt end.
Most of Morpurgo’s most memorable and magical tales are his animal stories and the second part of the book features some of his best. We have extracts from the popular The Butterfly Lion and Running Wild (another book I have on my to-read list), as well as some beautiful short stories, my favourite of which was Conker, the story of a boy who discovers a neglected dog and forms a strong bond with him. Morpurgo has a wonderful way of capturing the relationship between man and animal in such a way that it is impossible not to be deeply moved by these stories.
The Pity and the Shame moves to darker subject matter, including war, death, loss and regret. Morpurgo never sugar-coats his writing and never speaks down to his young audience. Despite the sad nature of many of his stories, he always adds a little light to the darkness and they never feel too overwhelming or depressing. Still, parents with more sensitive children may wish to read the stories first to gauge whether their child would be upset by anything featured here.
The Lonely Sea and the Sky also has quite a melancholy tone, especially the incredibly moving This Morning I Met a Whale which was based on the events in 2006 when a bottle-nosed whale swam up the Thames and died during the rescue attempt. The Giant's Necklace is also quite sad and may disturb younger readers, as it concerns a young girl swept out to sea.
In the final section of the book, Morpurgo showcases his versatility by rewriting some popular folk tales, including Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper and Pinocchio. He adds a fresh new twist to each tale, with new details and settings to appeal to a new generation of readers.
The only problem I had with the book was that I would have preferred more standalone short stories. The book contained far too many extracts, which felt like taking a trip to the cinema and sitting through two hours of trailers. I found this aspect of the book quite frustrating and I think that a child reading it would become quite aggravated at getting to a cliff-hanger in a story and then being cut off at the most exciting point.
Each story in Of Lions and Unicorns offers a few minutes of pure escape and I would challenge anyone to read one story without reading the next...and the next...and the next!
Morpurgo fans may enjoy reading War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo, a powerful collection of short stories by various authors edited by the man himself.
You can read more book reviews or buy Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Of Lions and Unicorns: A Lifetime of Tales from the Master Storyteller by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.com.
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