War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo

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War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: I really enjoyed this collection of stories exploring the impacts of war; it is never patronising and is compelling to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1447205012

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Throughout history, war has blighted society and had long lasting impacts on not only those directly involved but the innocent bystanders too. This collection of stories, edited by the magnificent Michael Morpurgo himself, looks to explore the impacts of war on individual soldiers, families and especially children. Every story approaches conflicts from a different angle and this ensures that even though there are a good number of short stories in the book, you will never feel as if it is becoming repetitive or dull. The stories do a good job of conveying just how multi-faceted and complex the concept of war is.

Michael Morpurgo kicks things off with a story about the growth of a relationship between a boy and his badly scarred grandfather that perfectly displays his characteristically lyrical writing style. While Morpurgo’s story is gentle and understated, Geraldine McCaughrean's is pretty much the opposite of that. Vividly written, and punctuated with passion, it hammers home the contradiction that lies in the idea of 'holy war', and is a highly enjoyable read. Margaret Mahy's story is also beautifully written – her depiction of young Elizabeth’s awakening awareness of the tragic nature of war is really well done.

'Real Tears' by Celia Rees and Robert Westall's 'Hard Ship to Egypt' are both real shockers, but it was Eleanor Updale's quiet tragedy that left me feeling most stunned and uncomfortable, as it underlined how psychological scars and internal trauma, though not shockingly visible as some battle scars can be, destroyed men, their families and even their descendants. Finally, saving one of the best till last, we have Elizabeth Laird’s poignant story about a young girl who is stunned by the inhumane brutality of soldiers and a good man in a bad war.

The stories that I have mentioned are some of my personal standouts in the collection, but there are plenty more in there that are well worth reading. It is understandably difficult to have an anthology of short stories from 15 different authors and be guaranteed a consistently top notch read every time. Inevitably, some of the stories are stronger than others, with some authors transitioning comfortably to a short story style, while the offerings of others feel a little rushed and not fully rounded. Furthermore, some of the stories feel too orthodox, and lacking in originality. Nonetheless, as a whole, this anthology of stories of conflict is a strong achievement that will stimulate, intrigue and enlighten younger readers to the complexity of war, and how varied, and so often tragic, its effects can be.

I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

There is a lot of excellent choice for younger readers looking for stimulating and thoughtful fiction about war. You can’t go wrong with Crusade by Elizabeth Laird, which is a beautifully researched and thoughtful book that comes highly recommended by The Bookbag. Michael Morpurgo’s touching story of two brothers during World War 1, Private Peaceful, also comes highly recommended. For older readers looking for a novel that explores the intricacies of war, Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness is the stunning conclusion to a series that I cannot recommend enough.

Buy War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy War: Stories of Conflict by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.com.


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