Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo
For a long time I would be recommended Michael Morpurgo books whenever I asked a friend or teacher for a suggestion. Although I never particularly disliked them, he would never have been my first choice of author when choosing a new book. After reading ‘The Wreck of the Zanzibar’ as a class read in Year 5, I decided to read ‘Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea.
Inspired by the English orphans transported to Australia after WWII, Michael Morpurgo tells the story of Arthur Hobhouse. Forced to leave his sister Kitty and the orphanage he grew up in, he is made to work at a farm called Cooper’s Station, tyrannized by their cruel foster father. Eventually, Arthur and his friend Marty are able to escape, and taken by bushmen to Aunty Megs who looks after injured and orphaned animals. The boys attribute their luck to a key Kitty gave Arthur, and treasure it.
After becoming an apprentice at a boat-building business and developing a love of the sea, Arthur becomes ill, however meets his soon-to-be wife and has a beautiful daughter, Allie. Allie is determined to undertake a dangerous solo voyage to England to find Kitty and give her the key, on a boat she built with her father.
The second half of the book is narrated by Allie, as she embarks on her trip following her father’s death. She finds comfort in the presence of an albatross, believing it to be her father’s spirit, and begins to interact with an astronaut on board the International Space Station.
Despite the complex story, the book is filled with beautiful imagery, mapping the changing nature of childhood time, and exploring what could have been the story of any one of the young children sent to Australia following the war. Although it deals with some difficult themes, I would recommend it to anyone upwards of 10, but I would expect it to be enjoyed best by an 11 or 12 year old.
FictionFan1 Rating: 9/10
If you liked this author you might like: Adam Silvera, E B White
About the author: Sir Michael Morpurgo has written over 100 books for various age groups, and also won several medals and awards. His works are often regarded as some of the best children’s literature available, due to the constantly relevant and accessible themes.
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