Saturday, 13 April 2013


Homecoming by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Peter Bailey (Walker Books)
PB RRP 14.95
ISBN 9781406341072
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Mrs Pettigrew is a loner who lived in a railway carriage by the sea wall. She knows all the birds of the air that nest in the surrounding marsh and their calls, and which animals inhabit the sea ahead and the marsh areas. This story is about her unconventional life, her fierce bond with the surrounding natural world, and a boy called Michael.

Michael returns to the place of his past to revisit his memories and is flooded with the remembrance of all the people and the happenings both good and bad, of a youth made richer by having known Mrs Pettigrew. He is confronted by the monstrosity that is the closed atomic power station, a permanent reminder of what was lost in the name of progress. He remembers the impassioned speech given by the usually silent Mrs Pettigrew on the disaster that awaited the town should they consent to the power station being built.

Michael recalls the cheers of support first given in the hall, and how at the end only his mother was left standing with Mrs Pettigrew holding the banner of protest against the power station. He sadly brings to mind the unexpected climax that separated all that was with all that was to be. These memories, especially those associated with Miss Pettigrew and what she stood for, are all recalled in exquisite and superbly moving prose.

This tender recollection of memories is juxtaposed with the lies and deceit marketed as progress that ultimately ends in environmental destruction. Morpurgo’s challenging themes together with the outstanding illustrations by Peter Bailey in double-page spreads complement the important messages in this book.

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