* Prices may differ from that shown
Review of Born to Run, a novel by Michael Morpurgo
I am reviewing the paperback version, published by Harper Collins Children's Books, ISBN 978-0007230594, 240 pages, cover price £7.99.
Born to Run is a children's novel aimed at youngsters of 10+.
The book is currently available from amazon in hardback, paperback, Kindle and audio book formats. Pricing is from £2.99 -£11.49 for a new copy or from just 0.01p for a used version.
I originally purchased this book for my eldest grandchild three years ago. My reasons for buying her the book were twofold. Katy is a very intelligent girl, but unlike her mother and I, she does not tend to read for pleasure. As a family we have always kept dogs, especially greyhounds and as at the time we had recently acquired our current retired racing dog, I felt the story may resonate with Katy and encourage her to read.
The story covers the life of a greyhound. Michael Morpurgo leads the reader through the dog's life from puppyhood to senior adult. The dog is rescued from a canal; he and his litter mates have been tied into a sack and thrown in the water to drown. Patrick, a shy insecure boy leaps into the water to retrieve the sack when he realises it contains something alive. Patricks finds himself feted as a hero and after much begging and pleading with his parents, he is permitted to keep one of the puppies. He chooses a fawn coloured male pup and names him Best Mate. The boy and his dog are inseparable and very soon Best Mate grows into a lean, mean, running machine as greyhounds tend to do!
Unfortunately, Best Mate comes to the attention of an unscrupulous greyhound trainer who kidnaps the dog and takes him away to train as a track racer. Patrick is devastated.
The story then progresses through the dog's successful racing career which ends with the sad demise of his kennel mate champion racer, Alfie. Alfie's death prompts drastic action from the step daughter of the trainers and Best Mate's life takes another turn.
Many more adventures are in store for Best Mate and the humans he encounters, but I will not discuss these for fear of spoiling the novel for others!
British author Michael Morpurgo is a fantastic story teller. Born in 1943, he is the father of 3 children and a grandfather of 6. He has produced over 100 children's novels, mainly based around animals. Possibly one of his best known novels is 'Warhorse' which has been made into a Stephen Spielberg movie.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
Michael Morpurgo writes a gripping tale. He really draws young readers into his story line from the very first sentence. This particular novel compares very well to other Morpurgo books, although I would warn that as with many of this author's works, there are some dark moments that may upset some children. The deeper elements include the attempted drowning of a litter of puppies and the shooting of an injured greyhound, so parents should decide whether their child is mature enough to deal with the fact that there is cruelty towards animals in the world before presenting them with this book.
Personally, I feel that these elements are entirely relevant to the subject matter and as the books are aimed at the slightly older child, the author was right to include them, as life is not all sweetness and light and the darker moments are not presented in a gratuitous or unsavoury way.
My warning duly covered, I consider Born to Run a heart-warming, yet tear jerking tale. The story is of a dog and the people who come in and out of his life and is written both from the humans' point of view and from the dog's perspective. The switches in writing style work very well and add depth and interest to the story.
The novel is well written and the characters are superbly drawn. The book is written in a fast moving and easy to read fashion, ideally suited to the age range. That said I read this yesterday, after coming across it again and thoroughly enjoyed the book myself.
I am pleased to note that my granddaughter has read the book several times and for a child who does not particularly enjoy reading that is an achievement in itself. She brought the book with her when she stayed with us last weekend and left it behind. She is now a grammar school pupil aged 13 1/2, so obviously in the upper end of the age range the novel is aimed at.
I have to admit that I read this book within in an hour as I am a fairly fast reader, but I am sure the average 10 year old would take much longer. I feel it is to the author's credit that adults too can enjoy his books.
To conclude I would recommend this book to others with the proviso that there are (possibly) upsetting scenes and am awarding the novel a 5* rating.
Thank you for reading
©brittle1906 July 2013
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.
I read Michael Morpurgo Born to run when I was 12 years old. I think it is a brillant book! I am very fond of Michael Morpurgo's style of writing, because it is so interesting but simple aswell.
Born to run is about two main grey hounds and their relationship and loyalty to their owners. Throughout the book you get to see how amazing these dogs realy are and how close they are with thier owners. There are some very sad parts in this book like the deaths of the dog, so would say that it is suitable for 11+. Some parts of the book are very emotonal, but it really shows the imprtants to the reader of dogs.
My worst part of the book, was how cruel some people were to the dogs, as it was really upsetting.
My favorite part of the book would have to be how well the owners treat the dogs through the thick and thin times. I also loved that the dog had thoughts alound so you really got to know the dogs well throughout the book.
I read this book a few years ago when I was about 12 and it really touched me because I had never read anything quite like it. The story is told by different characters throughout the book, usually a different chapter is told by someone else (including the dog!). I loved it because I have a dog myself and can relate to the characters in this book loving the dog and wanting to look after it. At times parts of the story are quite emotional because there are both happy and sad times. The book basically starts off with a young school boy finding a sack of greyhound puppies in a river. He keeps one of the dogs and looks after it well, they become very close and it basically takes you through the story of this dog's adventures and people he comes across in his life.
I think this book is mainly aimed at young teenagers but anyone could enjoy it.
"Born to run" by Micheal Morpugo is a story about the life of a greyhound and the experiences he encounters. The book is a children's book I would probably guess it is aimed at young teenagers. However the book was given to me by one of my friends at work and she is 31 and absolutely loved it mainly because she is a big dog fan and she would love a greyhound (but instead is having a baby although she still hopes to have a greyhound one day!) She told me I just had to read this book because it was great but also very sad.
The story begins with Patrick a young boy who whilst walking on his way to school sees a bag floating in the canal which seems to be moving. Without any concern for his own safety he jumps into the canal and gets the bag onto dry land where he discovers the bag is full of little greyhound pups. He becomes a hero in his school and after much deliberation on his parent's side they allow him to keep one of the puppies who he names Best Mate. And that is exactly what they become, unseparable enjoying each others company. What Best Mate loves to do is run and Patrick and him love to run in the park.
However one day something happens to change all that and Patrick and Best Mate become separated. Best Mate begins a new life as a racing dog and becomes called Bright Eyes in this new life he meets new friends Alfie another greyhound and Becky a young girl who lives at the kennels. Although Best Mate or Bright Eyes as he is now called misses Patrick he settles into his new life and becomes a champion racing greyhound.
Life for Best Mate however seems always set to change and due to various circumstances he finds that he is without a home and is then taken in by Joe who runs a baked potato van and he names the dog Paddywack and so begins another chapter in Best Mates life.
I thought this was a lovely book. It is quite clearly written for children yet it still has an appeal to an older reader if you love dog stories. The book has 240 pages of story but the font is quite large and I read the whole book in an evening. The story is very charming and the characters are larger than life. I have to confess that despite this book being a child's book it did have me in tears! There are some very sad moments. This book isn't really suitable for young children it tackles some serious issues one being children running away and the other that sometimes racing greyhounds are shot when they become too old or injured to run. This was a topic that I did not expect to find in this book but the author describes in clear detail that you are under no doubt what happens to the poor dogs. I felt this was worth mentioning as many people will find this quite upsetting to read. It was in fact an article in a newspaper about this practice that prompted the author to write the book in the first place. He had a rescue dog himself and it got him thinking about the life story of a greyhound.
The book also has a really good section at the back which will appeal to dog lovers. There is a bit by the author about why he wrote the book, information about the retired greyhound trust, a fun quiz to find out what kind of dog you are most like, information on animal charities, interesting dog facts, famous dogs, most common dog names and how you can get involved in helping dogs. Another little touch I liked is that at the bottom right of each page throughout the book is a little picture of Best Mate and if you flip through the pages it makes him run! I am easily amused!! There are also illustrations throughout the book and a lovely photo of a retired greyhound on the front cover.
I think this is a lovely story about a greyhound who has a lot of difficulties thrown at him but who is a great character and loyal to the end. It is a story that will appeal to dog lovers but is a book that isn't really suitable for young children. If you are going to give it to a child be warned they will probably want a dog after reading it if they didn't before. It's a charming story and as its only £3.64 in Amazon at the moment is an excellent buy.