Since I read this years and years ago, this book has been one of my favourite books. I really don’t know what it is about it, but the story touched me in some way and I’ve never been able to forget it. I’ve picked it up and re-read it that many times, and I enjoy it just as much every time. A wonderful book, in my opinion. Of course, being a Morpurgo book it is a slightly younger reading age/style but I do really love it. I hope you do too.
Part 1: In AOaWWS, is the story of an English orphan, Arthur. Separated from his sister Kitty, Arthur is sent to Australia on a boat. He makes a friend in a boy called Marty whilst on the boat, and they refuse to be separated in Sydney. Eventually, they end up on a farmhouse with a group of other boys, under the command of the ruthless Piggy Bacon. After a long while of beatings and toil, the pair escape through the Australian bush, and come under the care of Aunty Megs. She looks after them for a time, but ultimately sends them away for work at a Boat Yard. From there, events transpire for both boys – young men now.
Part 2: Arthur now has a wife, and a daughter Alexis ‘Allie’. After hearing his story, Allie makes Arthur promise her that they would sail to England and find his sister Kitty (her Aunty). Together they design a boat – the Kitty 1, a bath toy. Kitty 2, a pond boat. Kitty 3, a river racer. Finally, there is Kitty 4, a full sea-boat. Unfortunately, Arthur dies before he can make the journey. Allie vows she will continue with the search, and sets off alone on the Kitty 4 for England, her progress tracked by the Kitty 4 website.
The book is, as above, split into two halves. Whilst the first is the base of the story, it is the second that it the true tale, in my opinion. The plot is neither fast nor slow moving, but unfolds at an average pace. A faster, more complex pace would leave the child reader behind, of course. The plot is not at all hard to follow, yet it is not simplistic. It is enjoyable to read, and is in fact quite an easy read for older readers (I won’t try to read that tongue twister out!). However, the themes that chime through the book make it a richer experience for those more attuned to the ways and whims of life. I think that that is one of the reasons I still enjoy reading it so much – every time I come back to it, I understand a little more of it. I think that it’s a book with lots of scope for many different people to enjoy.
The characters in the book are fairly simplistic, they don’t have huge depth. We don’t get huge insights into the minds of the characters, Morpurgo has us make our evaluations of the characters by their actions and not by their thoughts. No, the characters are not paper cut-outs, they aren’t that bad. They just aren’t quite as good as a character can be, That’s the thing with one off books, you see. Authors don’t invest as much time in their books, which is why I generally prefer series. However, the characters are not the focus of this book, it is more the plot itself and the story of the young orphan from London that makes this book shine. Enjoy it.
The book is one I enjoy greatly, as it sits a place in my heart. I can’t express it in words, but I hope you can find it in your money to fork out £5.24 (paperback) or £2.99 (kindle) to read this book. It’s worth it, I promise you. Morpurgo is a good writer, although my opinion of him is slightly lowered since he bowed to film companies in writing a sequel to War Horse, just so as they can make a move for it. Of course, it probably secured him an ample amount of money, but I was happy with War Horse as a standalone novel. Anyway, I digress. AOaWWS is a brilliant book and I think you should read it, though it is a departure from my normal fantasy footing!
I’ll give this book an 8/10. I really did enjoy it!