cover image Farm Boy

Farm Boy

Michael Morpurgo, illus. by Michael Foreman. Scholastic Press, $14.99 (124p) ISBN 978-0-545-46006-4

First published in the U.K. in 1997, this novella, billed as a sequel to Morpurgo's War Horse, reads more like a tender epilogue. Albert, who joined the British Army during WWI at age 14 intent on finding his requisitioned horse, Joey, has long since died. Even his son is an old man now, still living on the family farm in Devon. During a summer with his (unnamed) grandson, he tells stories about his father, Albert, the war hero; their fine draft horses, Joey and Zoey; and, most importantly, how all the days spent helping with the harvest instead of going to school left him illiterate. The grandson then becomes teacher to the man, and is rewarded with a final story, written in his grandfather's unpunctuated, regional English (no grammar, phonetic spellings). Foreman's hazy watercolor-and-pencil illustrations depict rural and wartime scenes, evoking the early 20th century with period posters and advertisements. While this well-crafted story lacks the grand drama of War Horse, it offers a satisfying glimpse into a bygone era, while delivering quiet messages about the value of hard work, family, and the tragedies of war. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (Apr.)