Morpurgo (The Sandman and the Turtles, 1994, etc.) chooses a British preparatory school in the 1950s as the unlikely setting for the second coming of Christ in an engrossing, imaginative tale. Although Toby dreads another year at the strict and austere Redlands, his anxieties fade in the face of his friendship with Christopher, a new boy who is brave enough to stand up to the overbearing headmaster and compassionate enough to reassure a homesick younger boy. When Christopher admits his belief that he is Jesus Christ, Toby is stunned, but in the face of various miracles and foretold events, his skepticism shatters into the faith of a true believer. Toby becomes ensnared in a series of skirmishes between the Redlands students and the locals that threatens to flare into all-out war. Christopher's attempts at peacekeeping work, but he is expelled for claiming to be God. His example prevails, and the cadre of Redland boys who followed Christopher convince their fellows that further bloodshed will settle nothing. Morpurgo is unhindered by the undeniably British locale and characters: He has written a rare novel that has the capacity to teach its potent lessons of altruism to many readers.