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

Sunday 23 September 2018

Review: Flamingo Boy

Flamingo Boy is one of Michael Morpurgo’s best works. It is set in the salt flats of Camargue in France, in a landscape where flamingos live and breed, at around the time of the German occupation of WW2. Here the autistic Renzo, a strange and unnatural child that didn’t belong in normal society, lives with his parents on their farm. He is wild and free; protector of the flamingos, and a healer of birds and animals; a person who could inhabit their essence and become who they were.

A painting that falls from the wall in Vincent’s room in England, leads him on a quest to Camargue after he discovers a message inscribed on the back. He sets out on his journey and while camping at his destination, becomes seriously ill. He is found by Renzo and taken to the farmhouse where he is nursed by the healer and Kezia, the only other occupant of the farm.

Through a powerful narrative, Kezia relates her life to Vincent in stages, from her childhood when she first met Renzo till the moment she came to live permanently at the farmhouse. He learns of her Roma background and their caravan, and how in the midst of the threat of invasion, is a carousel, hand-crafted by Kezia’s father, and painted by her mother that represented life to the town.

But when a tree falls and smashes the carousel, it signals the destruction of their lives and the shattering of everything they own and love with the coming of the Germans.

Within all this chaos, and with people going missing every day never to return, one German soldier stands out like a beacon of hope for the future.

Filled with compassion and love, this perfectly crafted story is full of humanity and hope. It’s about family and what defines it, friendship and fate, and how people who are outcasts – people with uncommon minds, are the ones that make a difference to the common person’s life.  

Title: Flamingo Boy
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Publisher: HarperCollins, $16.99
Publication Date: February 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780008134648
For ages: 9+
Type: Historical Fiction