'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Review: A Medal for Leroy

This book is inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black combat officer in the British army. It is a beautiful and moving story, simply told, about loss and grief, racism, and secret lives.

Michael never knew his father Roy, a fighter pilot who was killed in the war. His parents were married for only for six months before Roy’s death. For a long time his Maman couldn’t talk to her son about his father. Michael knew when his mother gave him the medal that the silence would be broken.

Roy had been adopted by his twin aunties, Pish and Snowdrop (their nicknames), who have long lived in Folkestone by the sea with their dog Jasper. When Michael visits the aunties, he scatters snowdrops at the water’s edge in memory of his father, and plays with Jasper, his best friend.

It is on their last visit to Folkestone that Maman learns of a change in Auntie Snowdrop’s health. She asks Snowdrop to show Michael his father’s medals that had been given over to her and lovingly cared for over the years. Snowdrop promises them to Michael after she has gone.

Two weeks later Snowdrop dies. Pish promises to send a parcel to Michael left to him by her sister. This parcel holds more than mementos of Roy. It holds a history of prejudice, racism, and injustice, heroism, love and loss. But five years pass before the parcel is handed over. By this time, Auntie Pish is in a nursing home, weak and dying.

It is what Michael finds behind a photo of his father that explains the cryptic words his Auntie Snowdrop had whispered to him long ago. A thin diary holds family secrets that will change the boy forever.

Michael Morpurgo is the author of War Horse. He relates this story of war and its varying victims so poignantly, that as it ends, tears fall.

- this review by Anastasia Gonis

Title: A Medal for Leroy
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Michael Foreman
Publisher: Harper Collins, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: October 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780007363582
For Ages: 10+
Type: Historical fiction

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