SHADOW by Michael Morpurgo
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 9 - 14
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Two 14-year-old boys, one Afghan and one English, find friendship with each other and with two exceptional dogs.

Aman and his mother have fled the horrors of life under the Taliban for asylum in England, only to face deportation six years later. His best friend in school and on the soccer fields is Matt, an English boy spending the summer with his grandfather and his grandfather’s dog, Dog. Morpurgo tells the story through the voices of Matt, his grandfather and Aman. In the beginning, Matt convinces his grandfather to visit Aman, who is being held in Yarl’s Wood, a detention center. His grandfather continues the story, gently persuading Aman to recount what happened in Afghanistan and during the long, treacherous journey to England. The grandfather then organizes a demonstration to protest the deportations, receiving help from sympathetic ministers and an exploding volcano. The titular Shadow is a spaniel, a sniffer dog, trained to alert soldiers to roadside bombs, and she just about steals the story. The dog had bonded with Aman after being separated from her British army unit. Morpurgo has long championed the plight of children and animals in wartime and here ably succeeds in dramatizing the far-reaching repercussions of the decades-old war in Afghanistan.

Humanity triumphs over evil and bureaucracy in this heart-rending and heart-affirming story. (postscript, background information on Yarl’s Wood and sniffer dogs) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-312-60659-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2012


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