Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Morpurgo (War Horse) fuses the devastation of war, anguish of the refugee experience, pain of losing loved ones, healing power of friendship, and redemptive influence of a dog's loyalty in this multifaceted novel, first published in 2010. The author also effectively balances three narrators: Matt, an earnest British 14-year-old; his best friend Aman, who escaped to England from Taliban-occupied Afghanistan six years earlier and is now awaiting deportation; and Matt's compassionate grandfather, who uses his skills as a journalist to fight Aman's deportation. Aman's flashbacks to life under the Taliban (who killed his father, imprisoned and tortured his mother, and blew up his home) and to his arduous flight to England with his mother make up the novel's most harrowing passages. At its emotional core, though, is Aman's relationship with Shadow, a remarkably intuitive spaniel with a surprising past that wanders into his family's cave in Afghanistan and guides Aman during their escape. Despite many sobering plot elements, the novel's subject matter never overwhelms Morpurgo's streamlined storytelling and subtle characterizations. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-When Matt's friend Aman is threatened with deportation, Matt's grandfather visits Aman in prison, hears how an army sniffer dog helped the boy and his mother escape from Afghanistan, and brings the family's plight to the attention of people who can assure their asylum. Movingly told from multiple perspectives. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
As Aman, a young asylum seeker from Bamiyan, Afghanistan, sits in a British detention center waiting to be deported, his best friend Matt is determined to help. Matt tells his retired-journalist grandfather of Amans plight and persuades him to visit Aman in the deportation center. There Aman tells Matts grandfather the story about the talented spaniel (he could sniff out IEDs) he once saved in the caves of Bamiyan. Aman remembers everything: the destruction of the famous stone Buddha sculptures of Bamiyan, the Talibans firm grip, family members deaths and disappearances, landmines, and that amazing dog (called Shadow by Aman and Polly by his British-soldier trainer). Grandfathers dormant journalistic skills are awakened. Not only does he listen to Amans stories but he orchestrates a protest at the deportation center and reunites Aman with the dog and soldier-trainer from Afghanistan. The tale is filled with coincidences, prayerful hopes, and prophetic dreams, all of which come together to lift this story without becoming unduly sentimental. Shadow is the perfect book for classroom teachers looking for a contemporary tale of the old, sad story: wars devastating ramifications for everyone, including children. robin l. smith (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
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 Reviews, used with permission.