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Michael Morpurgo is an author who has written over 100 books for children and teens. Published in 2006, Private Peaceful was his 100th book. Recommended for grades 7 and up, Private Peaceful tells the story of Thomas Peaceful, an English teen during World War I who was too young to fight, but lied about his age to join the war effort. It is haunting the way this book draws the reader into Thomas's life both before and during World War I. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about his early years, his relationships with his family, his motivations. In the end we see just how devastating the war was on Thomas's friends and family.
There is definitely an unexpected twist in the story, and it leaves you feeling sad. I don't want to go into more detail than that because I don't want to spoil the story (the twist is not what you might expect from a war book). Private Peaceful is an interesting read, but not really a feel-good one. I'd recommend it for the valuable reminder it gives us of the devastating effects of war, and as a memorial to those who gave up their childhood and their lives in World War I.
Michael Morpurgo. Private Peaceful. Scholastic, 1 May 2006. 224 pp. $6.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-0439636537.