War: Storiesof Conflict, Ed Michael Morpurgo

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Here is a varied collection of war stories which proves, not that proof was needed, that children's fiction can tackle the big themes. Settings range from the Crusades to the Great War and from Iraq to Palestine. There isn't a dud story here, but special mention should go to Michael Morpurgo's own story, "Half a Man", about a boy's grandfather burned in a naval battle in the Second World War; Nina Bawden's wonderful, tear-jerking "Our Italian Prisoner", about an Italian PoW in South Wales; Joan Aiken's last ever story, "Albert's Cap", an eerie tale set in the Blitz; Eleanor Updale's thought-provoking story about a consequence of war upon successive generations; and Robert Westall's gritty, autobiographical "Hard Ship to Egypt".