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King of the Cloud Forest by Michael Morpurgo
Published by Piper Books with 145 pages it makes a short read for an adult but is really aimed at children in the 9 to 13 age group I would suggest. ISBN 0330305603 . It is available at many book outlets and of course Amazon at 1p plus the £2.75 postage.
A Former Children's Laureate, Michael Morpurgo is one of the most successful children's authors in the UK. He has written more than forty books and won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and he has been short-listed for the Carnegie Medal four times. As a teacher I read many of his books to children and they were always well received.
WHY ARE YOU READING A CHILDREN’S BOOK?
I picked this book up from a Bookcrossing point in Derby as I do like Michael Morpurgo’s books despite the fact that they are written for children he has such a lovely simple yet pure style of writing that I do enjoy reading them.
The blurb on the back:
“’ This boy of yours will be a king, and soon. He will be King of the Cloud Forests. He will rule among the clouds.’ The words of the Tibetan wiseman had meant nothing to Ashley. High in the remote and icy Himalayan Mountains, he was too busy trying to stay alive.”
Ashley is the son of a missionary who feels he has to stay In China as the Japanese invade but he sends Ashley to escape with a close Tibetan friend known to Ashley as Uncle Sung. Uncle Sung with Ashley disguised as his mute son embark on a perilous journey across the Himalayas. After some freezing adventures Ashley finds himself alone in a cabin in the mountains, battling for his life. He is just about to give up all hope, when he has a mysterious and terrifying encounter with a yeti.
The Yeti save Ashley and revere him as their long lost king. I won’t tell you any more and spoil the story. You will have to read it yourself if you want to find oit about how Ashley lived with the Yeti in the Cloud Forests and if he ever came back to civilisation.
I found this another winner from Michael Morpurgo. His writing is simple but the characters are alive and as a reader we are drawn into their struggles. Morpurgo’s descriptions of the arduous journey across the Himalayas is so clear as to make us feel the cold and breathtaking world clearly in our imagination.
This is such a wonderfully heartwarming story as the relationship between Uncle Sung and Ashley develops on their journey their need for each other and their depth of love and caring that they feel becomes more as each obstacle is overcome.Their journey is not only one of distance, but wisdom, strength and love.
Then just as Uncle Sung and Ashley are so closely bonded Ashley loses his uncle and is so close to death that he is often hallucinating. His rescue comes in the form of the enormous mythical, mysterious red-haired giants that we know better as the Yeti.
These amazing creatures tend Ashley with gentleness and take him away from the cabin up high into the snow capped peaks of the “cloud forest”.
Because Ashley cannot speak to the Yetis simple emotion and gestures are used to communicate and using these build a strong and caring relationship. Ashley’s thoughts about the different Yetis are quite scientific and he has invented his own names for individuals and notes their specific characteristics and temperaments.
Morpurgo does not write like a fairytale, the story is written as though scientifically truthful. Rather like a scientist living with a group of chimps or gorillas Ashley observes the Yetis and tries to work out their family arrangement, how they sort out problems and even herd their goats.
The Yetis and Ashley develop a close bond which is written about in a very touching and sensitive way. We are able to learn that there are basic emotional elements that all creatures share as we watch the relationship develop between Ashley and the Yetis and also watch the Yetis go about their daily lives through the eyes of Ashley.
This book is a magical and inspiring story that will appeal to the younger reader but is still an enjoyable read for anyone prepared to suspend their disbelief about Yetis. Morpurgo says in the book,
"The people who live high in the Himalayas believe in them - and think of them as holy creatures to be respected and left alone."
This is a story written in a sensitive and sympathetic way. It is exciting as a pure adventure story but it is also unexpectedly moving. It is a testament to the author that he can write a book about a legend in a convincing and believable and quite exciting way. He also creates characters, both human and Yeti, that we really care about and become emotionally attached to.
I would thoroughly recommend this book for younger readers especially but if you come across it as an adult don’t reject it out of hand. Give it a read. It won’t take long as it is a short book and I read it one evening and was left with a lovely warm fuzzy feeling after I finished reading. It is a very caring and sensitive book but also has elements of ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure as Ashley is escaping with Uncle Sung and then again as he is rescued by the yetis. I think this would appeal to be male and female young readers as the story is exciting but written in a tender and sympathetic manner.
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