Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
This rerelease of an excellent 1982 horse story coincides with the widely promoted Steven Spielberg movie of the same name. There is also an added author's note from 2007. Morpurgo tells a superb animal story about Joey, a red roan conscripted into the British army to act as an army mount and then as a work horse. Told in the voice of the horse, the story is comparable to Black Beauty, but the trials that Joey endures in both the British and German army, the mostly kind and attentive humans the horse meets along the way until he is reunited with his British farm boy, Alfred, also bears a resemblance to Terhune's Lassie Come Home. Joey has no trouble understanding the conversations of his handlers, whether they are English, French or German. He also learns about the horrors of war, the same in any language. Over a million horses were killed in World War I before war became fully mechanized, so Joey is involved in close in fighting, with big guns just feet away from the enemy. He may not understand the conflict for which he has been recruited, but his observations explain to young readers how war is not healthy for living things. His first mounted officer is shot leading a charge. His best friend, a magnificent black named Tranthorn, is worked to death. Joey is saved by the convenient but indeed beautiful reunion with his original owner, Albert, a farm boy turned veterinary aide. For me, the most moving scene is two warring soldiers, in the middle of No Man's Land, flipping a coin to settle ownership and Joey's fate in a totally non-violent means of agreement. With wide movie promotion, this book will be requested immediately. Joey's journey through war to peace is an excellent story with great heart. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Although a first-person animal narrator asks a lot of the reader, Joey's voiceunsentimental and brave under fireamplifies the emotional impact of the story…The historical details in this short book powerfully ground it in its moment, but a timeless question drives the story: Will the two friends, Joey and Albert, ever see each other again?
The New York Times
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Joey, a beautiful red bay horse, has settled into his life on the farm and his friendship with thirteen-year-old Albert. When Albert's father who is in need of money for the upkeep of the farm sells Joey to a British cavalry unit, Joey finds himself being shipped to Europe where World War I has just begun. The reader sees the war through Joey's eyes. His losses and his triumphs are captivatingly detailed. Captain Nicholls, his first rider, dies in battle but not before he paints a portrait of Joey. It is that portrait hanging in a village hall that inspired this tale. Later, Joey and his rider are captured by the Germans and Joey becomes part of the team of horses that pull the ambulance wagons from the battle line. After that he enjoys some loving, tender care from a young girl and her grandfather. That soon ends when he is conscripted to pull a canon for the German army. The horror of the conditions in which the soldiers live is mirrored in the events of Joey's life. A meeting between an old German and a young British soldier over who will take Joey provides a thoughtful commentary on the futility of war. This is an eloquently told and absorbing friendship story. Horse lovers will be on the edge of their seats from the beginning to the end. This runner-up for the Whitbread Award goes far beyond the horse story genre. Morpurgo presents both a fine history lesson and an emotional tale.
From the Publisher
"The music, folk inspired, brings depth and resonance, hooking the narrative into a wider perspective, of generations unnamed who have fought and died." —Telegraph
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Since he was a young colt, Joey has been loved and cared for by Alber, a young English farm boy. At the beginning of Wold War I, Albert's father sells Joey to a captain in the cavalry. The boy is devastated and promises Joey that someday he will find him. Joey experiences army life and the disastrous consequences of a cavalry charge into machine guns. He is captured as a prisoner of war and becomes a hospital cart transport horse for the German army. The he's used by the German soldiers to pull gun carts through the muddy trenches. Joey bolts after his friend Topflight dies. He ends up in no-man's land between the trenches. By a coin toss, he becomes again the property of the English. Joey is taken to a veterinary hospital where he is reunited with Albert. As the soldiers from both sides of the conflict share their thoughts and feelings with Joey, listeners get unique and perceptive views of World War I. John Keating's' different accents are pitch perfect as he draws listeners into the story (Scholastic, 1982) by Michael Morpurgo. An excellent choice for fans of historical fiction.—Samantha Larsen Hastings, Riverton Library, UT