A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that War Horse uses simple language, meant to display the limited awareness of its animal narrator, to tell a poignant story with a strong anti-war message. Like Joey the horse, many of the casualties in this World War I novel understand little about why the battles are fought and lives are lost. To Joey, the fighting is cacophonous, chaotic, and random -- an eloquent statement about the pointlessness of the violence. Horse lovers will sometimes be upset by War Horse, but they will also be moved by the kindness shown to Joey and the horse's deep bond with his young master, Albert. The film version of this novel, also titled War Horse and directed by Steven Spielberg, will open Christmas Day 2011.
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What's the story?
Joey, a red-bay colt, is sold to an English farmer, whose son, Albert, raises the horse and teaches him to work their family farm. After World War I breaks out, Albert's father sells Joey to the army in order to pay the mortgage on his farm. Joey is forced to carry riders into battle, and pull artillery and carts full of wounded soldiers. As Joey struggles to survive, Albert never stops hoping they will be reunited.
Is it any good?
War Horse holds special appeal for horse lovers, who will care deeply about Joey's plight as he is pushed and pulled between the humans fighting World War I. The novel offers a unique perspective on the hardships endured by war horses, and the emotional and physical needs of horses in general. Because the novel is offered from a horse's point of view, however, human relationships within the book are less satisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to write a wartime book from the perspective of a horse. What does Joey tell us about war? Does Joey understand why he is taught to perform the tasks he does? Does anyone in the war?
Steven Spielberg decided to make War Horse into a movie. Can you see why? Why do you think war movies are popular with audiences?
Joey and Albert have a close relationship. Why does Joey mean so much to Albert?
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