Thursday, 5 May 2011

WHY THE WHALES CAME - Michael Morpurgo, 1985

A bit of light relief from the trials and tribulations of Dear Tess.
I was asked to cover sickness for two weeks in a Year 4 class last September. I diligently taught the eight year olds about The Tudors and the Human Skeleton. I was responsible for crowd control when a music student attempted to teach them the clarinet (and I didn’t even wince even though it was only their second and third lessons).
But, for English, they were studying Why the Whales Came. And that made all the difference. I made a mental note to buy my own copy. This week I did.
Now, I must be honest, I’ve seen Michael Morpurgo argue that the poor dear children don’t have enough rights in this nasty old world of ours and I’ve seen the over-inflated reviews of the mediocre War Horse book/ show/ up-coming film… and I really should, as an over-opinionated know-it-all, dislike him intensely. But, this is one damn fine book.
I read bits of it with the children last September and I read the whole of it again now. And, I love it. I really do.
Gracie and Daniel befriend the mysterious Birdman, solve the mystery of Samson and, in the process, Morpurgo deals with the larger issues of loyalty and betrayal/ friendship and jealousy/ war and peace/ saving lives and sacrifice.
But more than that, it really is a great story. It’s the sort of story I really do love to read. I read it this evening and I loved it.

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