Water Song by Suzanne Weyn
Emma and her mother were trying to go back home to their family estate, but then the war happened and Emma’s mother was killed. She ended up on her own back at the large family estate, but the war comes there too. She gets a letter from her boyfriend breaking up with her because everyone thinks her mother ran off from her father while he was away at war. This wasn’t the case; it was a planned visit. She throws her family locket, with the boyfriend’s picture, into the well and almost immediately regrets it. How will she ever get it back?
Meanwhile, there is a man in the war and his unit is under a gas attack. He finds the water, as he always does, and he gets away. He happens to end up in the bottom of Emma’s well. She hears someone down there and helps to get him out, but is immediately confronted by the enemy. The two must pretend to be husband and wife while making plans to get away. The man asks for a kiss and Emma doesn’t want to give it, but more hardships come and Emma learns more about things that are important.
What I liked
This was a retelling of The Frog Prince and it was an interesting take. I liked the more romantic part of this. The story made Emma out to be less of a brat than the princess was in the book, but Emma was still a bit of a brat. I would have never thought about placing this story during a World War. I think that was an interesting way to make this story more modern than it actually is while still giving it a little enigma of age.
What I didn’t like
This is one of those “Oh you’ll like me eventually” sort of love stories. That doesn’t always work out. Maybe if you are patient, someone would like you eventually, but you know, maybe not. Maybe their opinion of you always considers that you’re a friend, or annoying, and they’re not going to love you. You cannot simply annoy someone until they decide to like you. If anything, annoying them would probably make them less likely to like you.
She kissed a frog! Aw, how sweet!
If you knew that kissing a frog would turn him into a prince that liked you, would you do it, even though you knew you would get Salmonella poisoning?
What does kissing a frog mean to you?
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Joey remembers when he was taken away from his mother. He was a young colt then. His mother was sold off at the auction to the highest bidder and he could not go with her. Someone else bought Joey. He went to a farm with a young boy named Albert. This boy was nice to Joey, but Joey was unsure about the people as of yet. There was an older mare there who gave Joey comfort in his unfamiliar surroundings.
Some time past and Joey had grown to be fond of Albert, but money was tight and Joey was sold. There was a war going on. The soldiers who took Joey promised to take care of him. Joey made friends with another, older, war horse. He had to learn to walk among loud noises and gunshots. At one point he was taken by Germans, then lived with a girl named Emily, then taken again. Would Joey ever see a familiar face again amidst all of these loud noises and death?
What I liked
I thought this book was quite clever. It’s an interesting exercise to get inside the mind of an animal. War is tough enough, but war from a horse’s point of view must certainly be difficult. In looking at something human through an animal’s point of view, we lose that part of humanity that always has an ulterior motive. There are times when each and every one of us may justify a war, but would a horse, or a dog, or a dolphin, or whatever, ever justify a great war? An animal’s understanding of such a thing would be minimal. The animal would just see creatures who were the same type of creature, seemingly killing each other for no apparent reason.
The book was also emotionally touching. Horses are intelligent animals and I’m sure they can remember quite a bit. It’s a bit heart-warming to imagine a horse reuniting with someone they used to know.
What I didn’t like
Animal stories tend to be sad and this one wasn’t really an exception. Someone you grow to admire throughout the story always ends up dying, because they’re an animal and generally animals don’t have lifespans as long as those of humans. Sassy always goes over that waterfall, no matter how many times you watch the movie and it’s sad each time, let’s just be thankful she’s not actually dead. Mufasa always gets thrown off that cliff by Scar and it’s sad each and every time.
I forget where in the world I heard this, but there’s this saying that the US has never lost a war in which either horses or donkeys were involved. Maybe it was horses. I honestly think this quote was from one of the National Treasure movies.
If you reunited with a pet many years later, do you think that pet would remember you?
Would you send your pet to the war effort?