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Cavall de guerra by Michael Morpurgo

Cavall de guerra (original 1982; edition 2011)

by Michael Morpurgo, Mercè Santaulària (Translator)

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1,9321043,536 (4.01)227
Title:Cavall de guerra
Authors:Michael Morpurgo
Other authors:Mercè Santaulària (Translator)
Info:Barcelona : Estrella Polar, 2011
Collections:Leídos, Read but unowned
Tags:català, juvenil

Work details

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (1982)

  1. 30
    Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (kaledrina)
  2. 10
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London (LipstickAndAviators)
    LipstickAndAviators: A similar tale of an animal going through various hardships, many different masters and lots of adventures. The setting is very different, being about dogs pulling sleds in the North of America during the goldrush but the strains that the characters (both animals and humans) are under are very similar. I think Morpurgo was obviously drawing inspiration from this book when he wrote WarHorse.… (more)

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» See also 227 mentions

English (102)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All (104)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
War horse is about a horse who has to enter WW1. He talks about his experiences with people and hardship, all the while his favorite boy is out searching for him. After a long battle of recovery, boy and horse are reunited.
  sam91h | Jun 11, 2017 |
Read for assignment
  mikeswanson | May 10, 2017 |
-- What's it about? --

A horse, Joey, experiences life as an army horse during World War One. He changes owner many times, but informs us at the beginning of his story that he has only ever had one true 'master'. By working for both the British and German armies, Joey shows us that despite the inhuman horror of war, soldiers on both sides were capable of kindness and ground down by circumstance.

-- What's it like? --

Evocative. Anthropomorphic. Sentimental.

I loved this story (which is no surprise, considering I also loved Morpurgo's 'Private Peaceful', another story set in World War One), right from the opening pages when I realised, to my slight surprise, that our reflective narrator was a horse:

'My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head. But I remember well enough the day of the horse sale. The terror of it stayed with me all my life.'

Sold to a man who appears to be a sodden brute, our narrator is christened Joey by the man's teenage son, an innocent who announces that:

'But I tell you Joey, if there is a war I'd want to go. I think I'd make a good soldier, don't you? Look fine in a uniform, wouldn't I? And I've always wanted to march to the beat of a band.'

Of course, when Joey becomes a part of the British Army, we see more destruction and pain than fine men in uniform. Joey's first experience of war is seeing the casualties leaving the battlefields to be repaired as best they can and this is a persistent focus of the storyline.

-- What's to like? --

Oh, so much! The simple storyline which follows Joey's fortunes. The way Morpurgo insists (albeit rather clunkily at first) that Albert's father, the sodden brute of the opening chapter, is a man made weak and unpleasant by circumstance, not choice. The presentation of the German and British soldiers as human beings in intolerable circumstances. The acute portrayal of gender differences in response to the news of war.
There's no explicit violence or savagery, as suits a children's book, yet the horror of war is powerfully conveyed. It's possible some older readers may find the tone too didactic:

'How can one man kill another and not really know the reason why he does it, except that the other man wears a different colour uniform and speaks a different language?'

I think including explicit reflections like this one from a German soldier helps to make the horror of war clear to younger readers.

-- Final thoughts --

Joey's ultimate fate relies heavily on coincidence and is very sentimental, which may not suit older readers, but this is clearly a children's story and so it didn't frustrate me the way it might have done in an adult or even YA novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and read it in one day. ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Apr 28, 2017 |
A good reputation can be a terrible thing. All I really knew about War Horse before reading it (apart from that it was about war and a horse) was that it was just about the best thing that would ever happen to me in my entire life.

Sadly it wasn't. It wasn't bad, it was very nicely written and made me freshly appreciate the development of warfare over the course of the First World War (particularly the early, pre-trench period that is often passed over) but I didn't feel any special appreciation of it. Clearly the problem is with me; it works for a lot of other people – it works a lot – so the question isn't why the book fails but why I failed to click with it.

For a start I'm not that mad on horses. They're excellent at pulling things and looking majestic in adverts for building societies, but I think I lack the romantic idea of animals that you need to favour their viewpoint over that of the many young men being slaughtered around them. Maybe it's the country boy in me. I read Watership Down last year and enjoyed it a lot more, but because I enjoy stories of post-apocalyptic survival not rabbits.

It could also be that this is aimed at fresh young minds who haven't already been told a hundred stories of the First World War. But that seems patronising and unfair. Winnie-the-Pooh, Roald Dahl and The Chronicles of Narnia are all terrific books regardless of your age; the children's authors who fail are those who speak down to their audience, and Michael Morpurgo certainly isn't doing that.

I wonder if there's also a degree of information feedback going on. So much of the originating praise for War Horse seems to come from the stage adaptation (which I'm still assured is just about the best thing that will ever happen to me in my entire life) and it's easy for that to inform opinions of the book as well. But the two are separate texts; that's why you have to pay twice for them on Amazon. Plays articulate ideas through metaphor, staging and stylisation (that famous horse puppetry) that is largely absent in the book. Perhaps I'd enjoy the play more.

And, of course, there's the burden of expectation. A book would have to be The Great Gatsby to hold up to the level of anticipation the world had instilled in me when I came to War Horse, and any book that isn't The Great Gatsby is going to suffer from that.

War Horse isn't bad: it's just not War Horse. ( )
  m_k_m | Apr 24, 2017 |
Listened to the audio book with my older son. He's interested in WWI right now. Well done characterizations and a fairly quick pace kept us both interested. The narrator of the audio edition was very good as well, doing the different accents and tones of voice. ( )
  ReinaMWilliams | Mar 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Morpurgoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Place, FrancoisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, DanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head.
Author's note: In the old school they use now for the village hall, below the clock that has stood always at one minute past ten, hangs a small dusty painting of a horse.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the entry for the original, unabridged text; please don't combine with movie/play adaptions!
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Book description
Sad book full of ever lasting friendship and sorrow. Probably a drama
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439796636, Hardcover)

A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:24 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

World War I has started and the military needs horses to move equipment, charge the enemy, and carry wounded soldiers off the battlefield. Joey, a farm horse is sold to the Army. Joey misses the farmer's son, Albert, and spends the war years wondering if the war will ever end and if he will ever see Albert again.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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