by Morpurgo, Michael

Surviving in a cave in war-torn Afghanistan, Aman and his mother are separated from Aman's beloved dog, Shadow, when they flee for the safety of England, a situation that compels Aman to accept help from new friends to reunite with his dog.

Michael Morpurgo, a Member of the Order of the British Empire, is the author of over 100 children's books, including An Elephant in the Garden. His recent bestseller here and in Britain, War Horse, debuted on Broadway in 2011, and is now a film by Steven Spielberg.

After six years in Manchester, England, Matt's best friend and soccer buddy, Aman, 14, is denied asylum. Now Aman is held in a crowded prison with his broken mother, awaiting deportation and terrified of being sent back to the brutality in Afghanistan. Aman tells his story to Matt's grandfather, including the horror he and his mother left behind: his father and grandfather were murdered, and his mother was tortured by the Taliban before their desperate journey across the border to Iran, Turkey, France, and finally England, where they joined Aman's uncle. Now they are being sent back. Morpurgo humanizes the asylum story through one refugee boy's viewpoint. The heartbreak, brutality, and loss are intensified through the crucial role of a stray dog that comes to Aman in a cave and then never leaves him (hence the name Shadow). He turns out to be a champion army dog that saves the refugees, and the animal story, along with the personal war survival drama, is heartrending. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Two 14-year-old boys, one Afghan and one English, find friendship with each other and with two exceptional dogs. Aman and his mother have fled the horrors of life under the Taliban for asylum in England, only to face deportation six years later. His best friend in school and on the soccer fields is Matt, an English boy spending the summer with his grandfather and his grandfather's dog, Dog. Morpurgo tells the story through the voices of Matt, his grandfather and Aman. In the beginning, Matt convinces his grandfather to visit Aman, who is being held in Yarl's Wood, a detention center. His grandfather continues the story, gently persuading Aman to recount what happened in Afghanistan and during the long, treacherous journey to England. The grandfather then organizes a demonstration to protest the deportations, receiving help from sympathetic ministers and an exploding volcano. The titular Shadow is a spaniel, a sniffer dog, trained to alert soldiers to roadside bombs, and she just about steals the story. The dog had bonded with Aman after being separated from her British army unit. Morpurgo has long championed the plight of children and animals in wartime and here ably succeeds in dramatizing the far-reaching repercussions of the decades-old war in Afghanistan. Humanity triumphs over evil and bureaucracy in this heart-rending and heart-affirming story. (postscript, background information on Yarl's Wood and sniffer dogs) (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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