From the Publisher
Michael Morpurgo is the author of more than 60 children’s books, including Waiting for Anya and Kensuke’s Kingdom. Michael Foreman, whose books include the acclaimed War Boy, is a recipient of the Whitbread Award, the Writers’ Guild Children’s Book Award, and the Smarties Prize; he was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
School Library Journal
As a youngster, Antonito lived on a small farm outside the village of Sauceda. His father raised strong black bulls for the bullring, or corrida. The boy bonded with a newborn calf after its mother died, and in order to save it, he led Paco into the surrounding hills. While they were away, Franco’s soldiers bombed the village. Leaving Paco behind, Antonito returned home, discovering the farm in flames. He escaped back into the safety of the countryside, but couldn’t find the calf. Weeks later, suffering from hunger and exhaustion, he was found by his Uncle Juan, a Republican soldier, and nursed back to health. While recuperating, he heard a tale of a large black bull that chased down Nationalist soldiers, and he hoped that it was Paco. Years later, after he dreamed that the creature rested next to him while he slept in the forest, he awakened to discover hoof marks of a massive bull in the still-warm grass. Morpurgo’s action-filled novel packs an emotional punch. The author gradually reveals the historical information and narrates the tale with the careful detachment of someone relating a story so awful that he can hardly bear to tell it. Ideal for reluctant readers, this book focuses on the loss and grief that grows out of times of war.-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A young child sees violence done in the bull ring, and worse violence to his small town, in this powerful, simply written tale by Britain’s Children’s Laureate, set during the Spanish Civil War. Horrified to learn that the corrida involves not just a dance, but a death, six-year-old Antonito returns to his father’s farm outside the village of Saucedo, determined to save his beloved bull Paco from such a bloody fate. But by sneaking out to free Paco and the rest of his father’s herd early one morning, he becomes a witness as Saucedo is bombed, and the survivors massacred, by Franco’s forces. Foreman ably captures Antonito’s innocence, devastation, and slow recovery in black-and-white vignettes; Morpurgo likewise delineates the close relationship between boy and bull, and the shock of being swept up in war, in ways that will resonate with younger readers. Compelling. (Fiction. 9-11)