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

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Review: War Horse - Illustrated Edition

My daughter received the surprise of her life when we presented her with tickets to see War Horse at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney this year. She was overwhelmed with excitement, and was star struck by the show.

On the way back to Canberra in the car, she devoured the post-event novel while I sat in the front seat, shaken, stirred and dazed at the incredible spectacle of that theatre production. Not only was the show incredible, it was the story of War Horse that undid me--and left me with this simple question--why had all these years passed and I hadn't I read that book??

Of course, there will always be books we've 'missed' along our reading journey, but War Horse is simply unmissable.

In this new, illustrated version of the middle grade novel, Morpurgo's astonishing work is made more attractive to younger readers, or at least those daunted by endless text. Presented in a hard cover, medium size format with dust jacket, I love that the designer for the theatre production, the immensely talented Rae Smith, was tasked with illustrating this heart-rending story.

Her designs for the theatre production are raw, stark and emotionally overwhelming. Printed in book form, their ability to haunt and strike the eye is not lost--and I can almost hear and see the lights and the sounds from that stage spectacle, as the story unfolds in page form.

Rae Smith won numerous awards for her design elements for War Horse, including a Tony, an OIivier and the Evening Standard and Critic's Cirle awards. There's a reason.

Children will immensely enjoy this beautifully-presented work, but it would make an incredible gift for grown horse-lovers (or literature lovers), too.

Title: War Horse - Illustrated Edition
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Rae Smith
Publisher: Hardie Grant, $26.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 October 2013
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9781405267960
For ages: 8+
Type: Illustrated Junior Fiction, Middle Fiction