Review: The Wrong Boy

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Students who seek to read books similar to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne) and Morris Gleitzman’s Once series will not be disappointed in Suzy Zail’s The Wrong Boy. Australian born Zail is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, whose first person account features Hanna Mendel, 15, living with her family in theDebrecen Jewish ghetto inHungary. Hanna is a talented pianist and has dreams of being a famous musician like her idol, German pianist Clara Schumann. However, her dreams and that of her family, along with the dreams and lives of other Jewish families, are shattered by the Nazis.

When the Nazis arrive and close the ghetto, Hanna and her family, along with other Hungarian Jews living in the ghetto, are being “resettled.” A long and arduous train journey in a cattle car takes them to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp inPoland. Hanna, her mother and sister Erika are separated from her father. Life atAuschwitzis harrowing with Hanna’s mum becoming mentally ill and Erika slowly starving to death until they are taken away ‘somewhere’. But Hanna is chosen to be the camp commander’s (Captain Jager) pianist in his house and while there meets Jager’s son, Karl. The more time Hanna spends at Jager’s house the more she discovers about what is really going on atAuschwitzand the more she falls in love with Karl “the wrong boy”.

The Wrong Boy is a well-written novel that keeps the reader hooked until the end. With a fast-paced and vivid storyline thanks to Zail’s descriptive language makes Hanna and her family’s plight (and those of the other captured prisoners atAuschwitz) seem so real. This is truly a moving and compelling novel, yet is accessible for students from Year 7 onwards.


Mrs Morris.


Review: War Horse

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Joey, a thoroughbred horse, starts off life as a working horse in England but quickly finds himself confronted with the battlefields of Germany during World War I. War Horse is a re-released novel by British children’s and young adult author Michael Morpurgo and is a tie in with the movie directed by Stephen Spielberg. It is a tale of the special bond between Joey and a young boy named Albert and is told from Joey’s perspective. 


Joey as a colt is sold to an often bad-tempered and drunk farmer. Luckily for Joey, the farmer’s son Albert loves and cares for Joey. However Albert’s father sells Joey to the British Army to be trained as a cavalry horse during World War I. Albert is devastated and pledges to find Joey. At 16, Albert enlists in the British Army, but lies about his age in order to find Joey.


War Horse is a beautifully written story and is an engaging read for students in Years 7 and 8, but is equally enthralling for adults. The 182-page book is broken up into 21 short chapters making it easily accessible to students.

War Horse the film will be released on DVD on May 2, 2012. Check out the movie trailer below.

Mrs Morris.


Review: The Horses Didn’t Come Home

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The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage that highlights the bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses. This Australian novel tells the story of the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917 during World War I, which is in contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli.

The story begins with 16-year-old Harry and his family on aQueenslandproperty in 1914. Army officers arrive at Henderson’s Run seeking horses for the Light Horse regiments forFrance,England,Egypt and the Middle East. Harry and his friend Jack decide that they want to serve in the Australian Army as Light Horsemen. When Harry’s horse becomes lame prior to departure, Harry’s sister Laura allows him to take her beloved horse Bunty.

The story is told through two characters’ points of view – Jack and his sister Laura. Much of Jack’s story is told though letters to his family, even letters to Laura from Bunty informing them of his training and battles during his two year deployment in Egypt and the Middle East.

The book’s title pinpoints the story’s ending. The Horses Didn’t Come Home is an accessible and beautifully written historical war novel for students in Years 7-10. It is sure to provide readers with new knowledge and understanding about Australia’s Light Horse regiments during World War I and the infamous cavalry charge at Beersheba.

I highly recommend this book.

Mrs Morris.