“ Author: Michael Morpurgo / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 06 February 2006 / Genre: Children's General Fiction / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips / ISBN 13: 9780007182466 / ISBN 10: 0007182466 „
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I love reading good children's literature and as well as reading with my young daughters I am often on the lookout for slightly older fiction to pass on to my niece and nephews. Michael Morpurgo, who was the Booksellers Association Author of the Year 2005, is a fabulous children's author and has a wide appeal for most children. Also, he covers a wide range of subjects so that there is nothing formulaic about his writing.
I have recently read The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, which is a wonderful story, set in the village of Slapton during the Second World War. It tells the story of a young girl called Lily Tregenza and what happened in 1943 when the Yanks came to town and virtually took over the whole village so that they could rehearse major strategies for the war and particularly for the D-day landings. All the villagers are told that they have to leave their homes and Lily's family leave their farm to go and stay with a nearby uncle. Sadly though, on the moving day, Lily's cat Tips goes missing, and from then on she keeps trying to find him often venturing into forbidden dangerous areas.
As part of her adventures Lily makes friends with an evacuee called Barry who comes to live with her family and an American soldier called Adolphus T Madison who helps her look for the cat. Later, as a tribute to him, she names her cat after him hence the name Adolphus Tips.
This is a wonderful story that covers a number of themes. It really does help children to understand some aspects of the war and it would be a great book to read along side doing a World War 2 project at school. I was fascinated to read about how the Americans took over the village and particularly the beach as that was something that I knew nothing about. Also, it touches on what it was like to be an evacuee in the war and Lily often picks out differences between the village children and the 'townies'.
Lily's father is in the army so the book also explores what it was like to be missing a family member, how much they worried and missed him and the joy they felt every time a letter arrived which was quite spasmodically. Also, about halfway through, Lilly's father arrives home for a few day's leave and she expresses how she feels that she does not really know him very well any more. In contrast to this, poor Barry's father has been killed in the war, and also their teacher, Mrs Blumfield's husband is killed so the book also covers the sense of loss that those characters feel. It might be a difficult book for some children to read if they have recently lost someone although, on the other hand, it might help as this theme is dealt with very sensitively.
Interestingly, the story I have just described is actually a story within the story. The book actually starts in the present day with a young boy called Boowie who receives a letter from his grandmother telling them of something she has recently done that might shock the family. She asks him to read the above story, that is actually the diary that she wrote as a child, which should go some way to explaining what she has done - which it does! The diary is written as you would expect - in the first person with lots of personal opinion and this is a really good model for children who might be learning about diary and journalistic writing at school. The diary story takes up most of the book but at the end, it reverts back to the present as we see how Boowie and his family react to what his grandmother has done.
Although this book is written for children, as an adult I really enjoyed it too. I would think that it's probably most suitable for children at the upper end of KS2 and even into KS3. It is about 180 pages long so it is not too daunting a read for more reluctant readers. I think that there is a lot in it for all kinds of children and should prove to be a very enjoyable but thought provoking read. I thoroughly recommend it.
The paperback is available on Amazon for £3.99.