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

Thursday 25 April 2019

Review: Our Jacko

Our Jacko is a poignant story, first published in 2014 as part of a compilation.

Michael Morpurgo's contribution to the anthology The Great War: Stories Inspired by Objects From the First World War, was Our Jacko, inspired by the metal helmet worn by soldiers, known as the Brodie helmet.

Four years later, Our Jacko has been released as a small, stand-alone edition, illustrated by David Gentleman, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

The story begins with an introduction to brothers Michael and Otto, who disagree on things, one of which is war.

Through their childhood there is an old metal helmet that was once a play accessory, then an animal feeder, and later a planter. They don't know where it came from, but it has always been useful.

When the boys discover the helmet belonged to their great-grandfather, they uncover a story, and an ancestor, they never knew: Lt Jack Morris. Sherwood Foresters. Son, husband, father, actor at Stratford, soldier.

It's the story of a man who lived and walked in the same places the boys do. A man who went to war, where he kept a notebook of thoughts of home and his favourite Shakespeare poems. A man who never came home from the war, killed on the battlefields of Ypres in 1915.

For the teenage Michael, whose pacifist outlook has been in conflict with Otto, Jacko's story is a revelation, generating understanding and a shared experience with his brother that brings them closer together.

It doesn't take long to read Our Jacko, and I recommend you keep some tissues handy, because there's a good chance you will need them. 

Michael Morpurgo says his stories are not so much about war, as 'the possibilities of hope and reconciliation that are borne from war'. That is never more clear than in Our Jacko, which is a multilayered story that can be appreciated by readers young and old.

Find a copy of Our Jacko and read it. It's a story that deserves to be heard, and you won't be disappointed.

Title: Our Jacko
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: David Gentleman
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.99
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781406366136
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior fiction