Michael Morpurgo OBE is one of Britain's best-loved writers for children, and has sold more than 35 million books around the world. He has written more than 150 novels and won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Blue Peter Book Award, while several of his books have been adapted for stage and screen, including the global theatrical phenomenon War Horse. Michael was Children's Laureate from 2003 to 2005, and founded the charity Farms for City Children with his wife, Clare. He was knighted in 2018 for services to literature and charity.
Gr 4-8-Friendship transcends cultural and generational differences in this deeply moving novel. It's been six years since Aman and his mother escaped a nightmarish existence under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for a better life in England. However, their request for asylum is denied, and they're sent to an immigration detention center to await deportation. After several appeals for release go unheeded, they begin to lose hope. Aman's best friend, Matt, shares the tragic details with his journalist grandfather in the hope that he'll visit Aman and write an article garnering public sympathy. Grandpa visits Aman, and after a tense start, gets the boy to open up. At the heart of the story is Shadow, a bomb-sniffing dog for the British army who becomes attached to Aman in Afghanistan after being separated from her unit. Shadow's presence reassures Aman and his mother, as they trek from their village to Kandahar, where they are miraculously reunited with the dog's unit. The memory of Shadow's resilience buoys the teen and his mother as they continue their arduous journey to England. As he did in War Horse (William Morrow, 1983), Morpurgo displays keen sensitivity in using the intense bonds between young people and animals to relate the devastating impacts of war. A useful postcript provides facts about the war in Afghanistan, the real-life Yarl's Wood detention center in Bedfordshire, and bomb-sniffing dogs. Shadow succeeds in evoking empathy and inspiring readers to take a stand for their beliefs.-Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.