Review Blog

Jul 18 2012

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

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HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN 9780007339617.
(Ages: 9+) Recommended. Animals in war, Refugees. The story of the Australian Explosive Detection Dog, Sarbi, missing after combat with the Taliban in 2008, stirred the imagination of several writers, producing two fiction and one non fiction book about the dog and its work in Afghanistan prior to its absence of 14 months, and speculating about what happened in those missing months.
This most winning version of the story will garner a host of readers as Morpurgo tells the story of Shadow, an Explosive Detection Dog that goes missing after action with the enemy.This tale is told from a quite different perspective than the other two, here we have the story of a grandfather visiting his son's friend, Aman in detention in Britain as the boy and his mother prepare to be deported back to the country of their birth, where their family has been killed by the Taliban, the mother imprisoned, beaten and tortured and the pair told to leave. Talking to Aman, the grandfather unravels his tale of finding a dog, a dog which stuck with the boy and his mother, often protecting them when they were threatened, and finally finding its real home quite by accident. So Shadow becomes Polly an EDD animal, part of the unit fighting the Taliban.
The tale of the grandfather and his grandson, Matt, finding a way to acquaint others of the plight of this now small family, makes emotional reading, as they go from hope to despair and back again. And this is paralleled with the story of Shadow, the dog who goes missing, finally finding a young boy to be with, one to help and protect as it finds its real home.
Morpurgo has written a wonderful story, full of insight and information, as he reveals the lives of refugees fleeing a country which now despises them, and when washed up on shores where they hope their future lies, are met with police and imprisonment, leading to deportation. The cruelty of detention centres is shown through the lives of Aman and his mother, and information at the end of the book shows that children will no longer be kept in these centres. It is beautifully written books such as these, by award winning authors, that keeps these issues alive in people's minds, and gives a human face to the tragedies seen on the media.
Fran Knight

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