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Homecoming by Michael Morpurgo
Mrs. Pettigrew lives an idyllic life in a railway carriage in the marshes with her donkey, dogs, bees and hens for company. But nothing stays the same forever and her peace is threatened when plans are made to build a nuclear power station near her home.
Inspired by the area where Michael Morpurgo spent his childhood no more than a stone’s throw from the sea Homecoming paints a vivid picture of the countryside and the people who lived there, each character vividly defined in the first few pages.
Mrs. Pettigrew was unlike anyone else and ageless too. She was “foreign”, from somewhere near China. She was also kind and compassionate.
When Bennie and his friends push Michael into the gorse and steal his sweets it’s Mrs. Pettigrew who comes to his rescue and their beautiful friendship begins.
But the blissful life she leads in her marshland home is soon to change and all too common with campaigns for “progress” communities are divided. People who had been friends for life would no longer speak to each other. Michael’s mother and Mrs. Pettigrew become targets for vandals as the two brave women protest to keep the marsh in its natural state.
Tragically they lose the battle and Michel, his mum and Mrs. Pettigrew end up leaving the village.
Now fifty years later Michael re visits the past and as he walks into the village he sees “the great grey hulk of the power station across the fields.”
Exquisite line drawings and double page illustrations by Peter Bailey match the story perfectly. Though suited to a reading age of 8 or 9 this would be an ideal choice for parents to read along with their children because of its environmental and conservational themes and also because it’s full of heart felt emotions dealing with friendship and the loss of loved ones.