Genre: children’s, war, family, 9-12 years old
Author = Michael Morpurgo, Christian Birmingham (Illustrator)
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This is the story of a young girl, Olly whose brother is out in Africa helping in an orphanage. It gives us three perspectives one of; Olly, Matt her brother and a Swallow. Going through their journeys in life searching for a purpose and their family.
I loved that it was divided up into perspectives because now as I am getting older I find the more perspectives you have in the story the better the book is. I enjoyed the theme of nature vs nurture which is shown through the swallow and the sister mostly to show how this situation affects others as well. It was very short this story but it was compacted well. However, I would have liked more from the characters specifically their inner thoughts. It had a beautiful flow throughout from the story to the characters to illustrations combined.
I love the illustrations in the book as they are pencil sketches which for me have the most depth and feeling through their emotion of the sketch. I enjoyed that a lot of the sketches were not very detailed which represented the loss in the book beautifully. I think my favourite illustration would have to be when the swallow leaves the nest for the first time it has so much to represent in this one image but also has this freedom to it that just makes you want to follow your dreams.
Olly, she is very innocent and naive but also a sweet girl with so much passion for her brother that brings such a sense of this great supportive family dynamic to the book which I like to see in books because nowadays it is less and less of a reality. Her character was also a great contrast to her brother as he was very definitively who he wanted to be and she was still trying to figure that out. Matt was a strong, opinionated character with great will power and he gave so much joy to the story. He was definitely my favourite character because of his core values which was to help everyone which I try to aspire to help as many people as I can but it is hard in this society but it was nice to see that in a character. The swallow is such a hard character to look at as it is an animal and you just feel really rude, going well he was amazing or boring its like when you are critiquing a look at someone else’s life in an autobiography. It was an intriguing use of hope through the swallow and I enjoyed reading his perspective made me feel all nature happy. The mother was such a small character which I thought was sad as I would have loved to have her perspective incorporated into the story or at least have a little bit more interaction with her.
This story was beautiful in terms talking about sorrow and loss. The use of the swallow as a perspective gave the story a sense of whimsy and childlike innocence to it. It was heartbreaking throughout the story for every single character I could feel the pain and how scared they were which gave it such beauty. It is very much a calm and reflective story that you either love or hate. For me, I needed more detail and more story to become really attached to the story. I think this is a book for a mature 9 year olds and over as it is quite sad and devastating as their will be things you’ll have to explain after reading it.
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