The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo
|The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A heart-warming story that reaches across the generations and illuminates the past. Beautifully written with a host of accurate detail and the classic Morpurgo clear-sighted understanding. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: February 2006|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
It's 1943 and D-Day is less than a year away. American troops are massing throughout Britain and many of them are based on the Devon coast - some in and around the village of Slapton, the home of twelve-year-old Lily Tregenza. Lily misses her father terribly; he's away fighting in Africa and Italy. She loves her cat, Tips, and has no intention of ever kissing a boy, especially one of the townies - evacuees - because they think they're so superior.
Lily particularly enjoys keeping a diary and it's in her diary that she relates the most awful news of her short life. Slapton's beach is to be used in training exercises for the Normandy landings and the whole village is to be evacuated. Not only has Lily lost her father to the war, but also her home. And, when Tips disappears on moving day, she loses her beloved pet too. Frantic to find her cat, Lily ducks under the barbed wire surrounding the village, straight into danger.
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips is absolutely Michael Morpurgo at his best. Despite the background of momentous events, it's a gentle, homely story full of family detail and completely in tune with a child's way of thinking. It also deals with the special, formative relationship between young and old and in this way, cleverly reaches across the generations. The story opens with Michael, aka Boowie, Lily's grandson and a letter from Lily enclosing her diary. As Michael reads, he is given an even more intimate connection to the grandmother whose favourite he is. Better still, he is shown a window into a past which, despite its place in history, is still redolent with the timeless hopes, dreams and fears of childhood.
It's easy to read, and Lily's first person narration shows the privations of wartime from a child's point of view; for Lily the people still present in her life become more significant than her absent father: Barry the evacuee; her truculent, anti-war grandfather; her teacher, a Jewish refugee; Adie the American GI. And no-one, nothing is more important to Lily than her beloved Tips. Tips is Lily's link to the security and familiarity of life before the war. Without Tips, life is uncertain, frightening, intolerable. When she disappears, so does Lily's self-possession.
Morpurgo's trademark, certain authorial tone is always present, navigating effortlessly through moral ambiguities and alighting surely upon the good, the wise and the right. He makes a wonderful guide for children, unafraid to show them life's most serious trials and sorrows, but always showing them the path by which to navigate to a safer harbour. This authorial tone makes no bones about the deplorable nature of war and of those who sometimes lead us into it, but - unlike many - it never falls into the trap of deploring the people caught up in it. And it's this that makes Morpurgo an author to be treasured.
The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips has a wonderfully joyful ending that joins the past and present by means of the indomitable human capacity to love and to endure. It's highly recommended for all junior readers of nine or ten and long beyond. It made this grown up reader cry.
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