FICTION

A Medal for Leroy

144p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250039804; pap. $6.51. ISBN 9780007339686.
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Gr 4–8—Michael lives in London in the 1940s with his French mother, who became a war widow before he was born. On a regular basis, they visit Auntie Pish and Auntie Snowdrop, who raised his father. A letter written by Aunt Snowdrop arrives several years after her death, and as Michael reads it, he discovers the truth about his heritage, about his family, and about the bravery of his grandfather, who was black. This letter creates a story within a story, in which Morpurgo deals honestly with themes of war, death, and the racial injustice. According to an author's note, the novel is inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, a black officer in the British Army in World War I, who, although courageous, was never awarded a medal due to the color of his skin. Even though it's short and simple to read, appealing to reluctant readers, this novel offers readers of all ages a beautiful multilayered story of compassion, loyalty, and courage.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
This tale about family secrets and well-intentioned lies is inspired by the real-life experiences of the first black British Army officer, who was prejudicially denied a medal for his actions during WWI. Though the focus of the book is on family relationships and the stories people invent to protect their loved ones, Morpurgo also offers an understated, unexpectedly gentle meditation on prejudice.

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