Flamingo Boy, By Michael Morpurgo.
Now, at first sight the plot seems to borrow a great deal from the classic story The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. And in a way it does, but then Michael Morpugo works his magic. I often find his books almost painfully sad, but sad in the right sort of ways. To achieve the level of emotion in a reader (that he achieves) is no small feat of writing.
It’s written up as ‘a landmark new novel from the nation’s favourite storyteller’. Well, yes and yes... I think it is an excellent story, that explores some interesting themes (such as, not all the Germans were bad people in the war. This is shown through the character of Willi Brenner). To do this, the author has counter-balanced the ‘real world’ with a boy who lives predominantly in his own. In effect, this is the pure natural thought of an autistic child meets the mindless thoughtlessness of so-called grown-ups and the Nazi war machine.
It is set in the Camargue in the South of France (down at the bottom of France in the Rhone delta). This is another watery salt marsh setting (the wilds of Essex were already used by Gallico) but it is the perfect setting for this story as it unfolds in the troubled days of World War 2 in Vichy, France. It’s about resistance (both physically and in the mind) full of action, interest and, of course, Morpurgo’s trade-mark emotion.
This is suitable for competent readers of 10+, but there are some themes that may be tough for younger-minded readers. So to be safe: 11+.
I definitely give this story 5 "Yellowbirds" out of 5!