Morpurgo, Michael, Half a Man illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan, 64 pgs. Candlewick press, 2014. $16.99. Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.
Michael’s grandfather was on a merchant marine ship during World War II that was hit by a torpedo. In the ensuing fire, he was badly burned, lost several fingers and was many days drifting at sea before being rescued. His disfigured face was difficult to look at, even family members avoided eye contact. But Michael didn’t and as he grew older, he and his grandfather developed a relationship and Michael learns that his grandfather is much more than half a man.
Simply illustrated, this story is poignant, moving and beautiful. The length and look seems like a children’s story, but the content may be disturbing to children (alcoholism, disfigurement, abandonment). Unfortunately the presentation isn’t appealing to the older reader. Not sure where this fits. Morpurgo, author of War Horse, is a popular author, and his name may be enough to sell this book. Hard to recommend though for a school library.
MS - OPTIONAL Lisa Librarian