Olly's brother, Matt, has always wanted to be a clown, and when he sees the plight of Africa's children, he makes the decision to fly the family nest to take his skill to a place devoid of laughter. To his family, it is a travesty: this bright, intelligent boy with a glowing future ups and leaves to head into the unknown, leaving behind him a trail of worry and feelings of impending doom.
Olly is charged with the care of a family of starlings that she and her brother have been watching over in the garden. After Matt's sudden departure, the nest is ravaged, leaving just one fledgling alive and stunned. Olly nurses him back to health, and names him Hero. It is Hero's subsequent long and perilous flight to Africa that links the story of Olly, at home with her mother in England, to Matt's new life in Africa.
Told in three voices - that of Olly, Hero and Matt - this novel spans the continents and delivers love and determination in a poignant, thought-provoking story that stirs the soul.
©2010 Michael Morpurgo (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
I haven't listened to many audiobooks for younger readers (although I'm working my way through the Narnia series) but the characterisation is superb and concise, within a short format.
I would like to suggest it's thematically similar to other Michael Morpurgo books (although I've only read War Horse) in that human and animal characters are treated with the same degree of respect and dignity to create a memorable and thought provoking scenario. Narratively, it reminded me a little bit of the recent Comic Relief-inspired drama on TV, 'Mary and Martha'.
I have not, but his vocal styling - authoritative yet empathetic - suits the material well, and maintains the listener's focus.
I found the character portraits at the beginning absorbing; the clash of ambitions, lifestyles, between parents and children; those in middle age and those just starting out, which anyone can relate to - and this made me want to keep listening to discover Olly's fate, which I feared wouldn't be good.
Has inspired me to purchase several Michael Morpurgo books for my nephew as his handling of difficult themes is sensitive and realistic, as well as entertaining.
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