Michael Morpurgo is one of today's most highly acclaimed children's
authors. His works cover the whole gamut of young people's
experience, from Arthurian fantasy to the foot-and-mouth crisis.
This brief novel belongs in a class of its own. A mere hundred or
so pages long, it's is a masterpiece of compassion, and the young
hero, fighting for his life in a Devon hospital, is an inspiration
to every child facing a time of crisis. Robbie Ainsley is just 10
when he is knocked down by a car as he attempts to rescue his dog,
Lucky. He is rushed to hospital, but remains in a coma, unable to
speak, move or see. However, he still has some of his senses -
hearing, touch and smell - as well as a quicksilver mind, and this
is Robbie's story of his life as experienced from his hospital bed.
He imagines what his nurse looks like; he recalls the sensation of
his Gran's powdery cheek against his own; he can smell his Mum's
perfume; he listens avidly to the recorded voices of his
classmates. But as the days and weeks pass by, Robbie shows no
signs of recovery, and slips deeper into unconsciousness. His
favourite Chelsea footballer visits him; the remorseful car driver
travels down from Scotland to sit by his bed; yet no one seems able
to trigger a response. As Robbie drifts into a deepening coma,
those dearest to him are drawing nearer to each other in their
distress. His parents decide to give their shaky marriage another
go, and for much of the book this seems to be what Robbie has
wanted above anything. Perhaps this can be the turning point - for
if it can't drag him back from the brink of death, what can?
Despite the humorous tone this is a deeply affecting novel, and one
which could be used in many classrooms to great effect. Robbie
faces despair, misery and frustration, yet his determination to get
better keeps him going, however wretched he feels. The adults in
this story all have something to learn from Robbie's example, and
his experience has a powerful influence on all their lives. Ages 8+
'Sometimes I tell myself that maybe I'm in the middle of a bad dream…I'm locked inside my head and I can't get out.'
Robbie lies in a coma, after a terrible car accident involving his dog, Lucky. He can hear, but he can't move or speak. He can't tell his family that he loves them, that he's going to be OK. Everyone comes to visit him – even the famous Chelsea footballer Zola. But Robbie is on the brink of death and nothing is working. Will they ever be able to bring him back?
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