cover image A Medal for Leroy

A Medal for Leroy

Michael Morpurgo. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-250-03980-4

Inspired by Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army, War Horse author Morpurgo examines WWI from another angle with this novel narrated in the present day by a man named Michael as he looks back at his boyhood. As a nine-year-old in 1940s London, Michael dreads visiting his paternal aunts Mary and Martha, nicknamed Pish and Snowdrop: the trips only remind Michael and his Maman of his late father, Roy, an RAF pilot. Five years later, after Martha’s funeral, Mary sends Michael a framed photo of his father; when the glass breaks, Michael discovers a hidden letter from Martha. What follows is her account of her time as a nurse during WWI in Belgium and a secret love affair, opening Michael’s eyes to his family’s untold history and unrecognized bravery. Martha’s letter to Michael, which makes up the second half of the book, addresses important topics directly, including racial prejudice and unwed motherhood. The novel’s elegant structure and quiet, retrospective narration—both Michael’s and Martha’s—bolster this story about the importance of knowing the truth about one’s heritage. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)