By Michael Morpurgo
U.S.: Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
Great Britain: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
A silver star badge. A little red train. A cave in Afghanistan. A “sniffer dog” named Shadow. An incredible story of escape, adversity, courage, and love. The kind that never gives in and never gives up.
It’s perfect for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is a “Freebie.”
“We want you back.”
Kimber here, ready to introduce you to my new BFF: Shadow the springer spaniel. Aka: “Polly.” She’s a special bomb-sniffing dog. (Okay, she’s not quite as special as I am. But let’s not get picky here, okay?)
Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Shadow. She gets lost in Afghanistan during the war and is finally reunited with her old unit from the U.K. But not before finding her way into the heart of young Aman.
The story opens by going back six years to when Aman and his mother are living in a cave in Afghanistan. They’re hiding from the Taliban. Shadow finds Aman. The dog is hurt and hungry. Aman feeds Shadow and takes care of her injured leg. The two become friends.
After a visit from The Bad Guys, it’s pretty clear that Aman and his mom must flee the country, even if they risk their lives to do so. But what about Shadow?
Turns out Shadow has a mind of her own. Kinda like… oh, never mind.
Anyway, Aman and his mom suddenly find themselves following the lead of this remarkable, fearless dog as she leads them to safety. It’s almost as if Shadow knows the way. Has been there before. But after the police shoot at Shadow at a border checkpoint, she runs off.
Later, we find out that “Shadow” is a bomb sniffing dog, “Polly.” She’s eventually re-united with her unit. But that means Aman must give her up to Sergeant Brodie. He does.
Then the story follows Aman and his mom’s harrowing journey into England, where they join Uncle Mir. Aman thinks they’re finally safe. But not so fast…
Michael Morpurgo catapulted into the upper echelons of our Favorite Authors list with War Horse (Hi, Joey). If you haven’t read that, you really should. Ditto An Eagle in the Snow and A Medal for Leroy. All vintage Morpurgo. Just like Shadow.
We read Shadow cover to cover in one sitting. Beautifully written and eminently engaging, it’s also quick. At less than 200 pages, it’s not like you’re biting off War and Peace. (Tip on that Tolstoy thing: Just watch the movie instead. It’s not exactly short or quick. But it’ll only take you a week instead of half a year, like reading the book.)
A Warm Breath of Spring
One other thing. It was cold and wet outside when we started this book. It’s still cold and wet outside. But this book is like a warm breath of spring inside. Heartwarming. Effervescent. In fact, it’s so moving and engrossing, it’s like you just want to sit and savor it awhile. So that’s what we’re gonna do, okay? While one of us gets another doggie treat.