Published by Scholastic
Published on September 1st 2010
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A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.
In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?
Joey, a beautiful blood-red bay colt, is purchased at an auction out of spite and brought to be a farm horse. There, he develops a relationship with farm boy Albert, a bond that will last even when the two are separated for war.
I’m not into war stories, but I’m less into WWII than I am into WWI. WWI was still early enough that they used cavalry and horses as ambulances and to deliver messages and water to the front line. The way the author describes what it’s like being in a war, and the way the narrator delivered that feeling, I was totally immersed in this world. The narrator flawlessly changed accents for different characters, too. Even though it was a horse narrating, the story just felt so real to me.
CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS
I absolutely love Black Beauty – in fact, it was the first non-picture/short story book I ever read at age 7. War Horse is a lot like Black Beauty – the trials and tribulations of a beautiful, if somewhat abused horse – except that Joey goes to war instead of being shunted backwards and forwards between ignorant or poor owners. Joey has this industrially-strong bond with Albert that I swear I could feel. And even though Joey and Topthorn never exchanged a word, I felt the beauty of their bond as well.
WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK
The story isn’t particularly beautiful – although horses are very valuable to the war effort, Joey keeps switching owners, and through this we get to see several different versions of the people affected by war. It isn’t a commentary on the war itself. It’s just what happened to this one beautiful horse who has a human determined to find him no matter the cost. That’s true love, and I loved it.
It really makes me want to see the film, although I fear I will cry at that as well as this book. I only cried three times, but I felt really empathetic towards Joey and his ordeals. I really fell in love with him. I would recommend this book to any horse lover.