This may only be a short story, but Michael Morpurgo packs a lot of action into it.
Robbie McLeod has the misfortune to be orphaned at a very young age and is brought up for a while by his heartless uncle. He is also born into a difficult age, being young and idealistic, in Scotland, at the time of the Jacobite Uprising in 1745. That's when Bonnie Prince Charlie came back to Scotland out of exile in France, to claim the throne which was rightfully his.
The charismatic Prince swept through Scotland calling men to arms as he went, and Robbie joined them. Robbie was there at Culloden, when the Scots were overwhelmed by the English, and Robbie ran for his life from the field of battle.
And he became a hunted man. Except he was still no more than a boy of sixteen. The English redcoats hunted the Scots mercilessly.
Robbie hid in a distant and remote glen, and it was there that he made the best friend of his life, Charlie. Now, not everyone would be able to make a friend from a wild wolf, but Robbie did. And if you want to know how he did it, you will have to read the book.
He grew quickly from a pup into a young wolf, and as he did so came to know me and to love me, perceiving me now as his provider and his friend, so that he would follow me wherever I went, his nose touching the back of my leg as if to remind me constantly of his presence, of his reliance upon me, of his affection for me. In my turn, I came to look upon Charlie as my only friend in a world full of enemies. I had no other. Wolf and rebel, we were inseparably bound together by the very nature of our common plight.
And if you want to know how Robbie and Charlie, together, outwitted the English redcoats and made it safely across the Atlantic Ocean to the great free land that is America, you will have to read the book.
A beautifully told story, in Michael Morpurgo's unmistakeable, quiet voice.
Ed, boy, age 13, from swanage, United Kingdom, on 10th June 2006. Rating:
Grandpa McLeod is getting on in years. And his health could be better. He has been cooped up in his flat after a bout of pneumonia, under doctor's orders to take things more easily. And he's going stir-crazy. Encouraged by his granddaughter, Miya, he decides to become a silver surfer and research his family tree. And this is how he discovers the story of Robbie McLeod, a distant ancestor. Robbie's story is a sad one. Orphaned as a baby, Robbie lived with his uncle, a violent, abusive man. As soon as he was old enough, he ran away from his uncle's farm and spent years on the run, stealing to feed himself. Inside, Robbie knew that the life of an itinerant petty thief was not for him, but he saw no way of extricating himself from that downward spiral. Until one day, he met a loving couple, Sean and Mary, who are unable to have children of their own. Sean and Mary took Robbie into their home and treated him as their own son. Under their kind care, Robbie flourished. But sadly, his happiness did not last. Robbie's Scotland was the Scotland of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Sean died at the battle of Culloden and Mary died at the hands of the brutal English soldiers. A fugitive once more, Robbie discovered an orphaned wolf cub and together they evaded the vicious redcoats, for at this time wolves were hunted down by the English in the same way as were the Jacobite rebels. Boy and wolf discovered a remarkable bond and together they needed to find a way to flee the country… Gosh, you know, it's a page-turner, The Last Wolf. It is packed full of action. From Scotland to the high seas, to the United States, it's a roller coaster of a ride. A short novel for younger readers of six to nine, Michael Morpurgo's book had my son and I utterly hooked. And boy, were we rooting for Robbie and Charlie. It is a classic tale of adventure, of triumphing against the odds and The Last Wolf had us entranced from the first few pages. The friendship-born-of-adversity between Robbie and Charlie is such a strong one and such a sympathetic one that we identified with them very easily. We found ourselves right in the middle of their adventures of long ago. It was an exciting, exhilarating read. And yet we were aware, all along, of that quiet, but unmistakeable voice Morpurgo has, and we knew that at some point both boy and wolf would need closure. We so wanted that closure to be happy for both of them. Also, we wanted Grandpa McLeod to find the end of the story. We were not disappointed. Morpurgo has that happy knack - so important in a good writer of books for children - of engaging his readers into his narrative while asking serious questions and making them look for the answers. It is a great talent. Kieran and I enjoyed this story of Robbie McLeod and his wolf, Charlie, and we enjoyed trying to answer the questions it asked of us. It really is a lovely book, The Last Wolf. It is full of the sort of swashbuckling, high adventure that children love. It has an underdog – if you'll pardon the pun – and children love tales in which an underdog wins through. It is also a touching, heart-warming story. Generally, I would recommend this type of shorter novel for six to nine year olds for library borrowing and not for buying. There are so many of them from so many prolific contemporary authors – Anne Fine, Dick King-Smith, Morpurgo himself, to name but a few – and they are read and gone so quickly, it is probably not worth the outlay to purchase. Neither are they – usually - the kinds of books a child will remember with fondness right through to adulthood. They are consumables really. This one, though, The Last Wolf, I think you should consider buying. There are a number of reasons for this. The hardback edition is presented beautifully. The dust jacket is orange with a cut out showing Charlie, blue, and howling in the moonlight. The cover itself is simply gorgeous, bearing the full Michael Foreman illustration. It would make a lovely gift for any child who likes to read. The book is also such an impressive finished product. It has that interesting hook to and from the present day between Robbie and Charlie and Grandpa McLeod. In addition, Morpurgo has included a lengthy Author's Note that talks about the historical background to his story and about how he came to write it. There are also some strong messages about injustice and the meaning of true friendship. These things lift The Last Wolf above the standard – albeit well-written – fodder of short novels for new, young readers. My son and I enjoyed the story immensely. We were also inspired to research the internet for more stories about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Redcoats and to sit for hours making a family tree of our own. We did these things for fun, but in a class or home-educating environment, The Last Wolf clearly offers many similar opportunities for study. Therefore, I am recommending it not as a consumable, but as a keeper.
jessica , girl, age 9, from norfolk, United Kingdom, on 13th May 2005. Rating: 10/10
I think the book is very good and Mickael Morpurgo is a very good book writer and i would give it 10 stars.
Member of owl class-nayland school, girl, age 8, from nayland suffolk, United Kingdom, on 10th January 2005. Rating:
I thought this book is one of the best michael morpurgo books ever. I could not put it down. I think that everyone should read it, they would certiantly enjoy it!!!!!
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Michael Morpurgo has written a lot of books for young readers of all ages. If you enjoy this short story form, you might like to look at:
If you fancy trying a longer story by Michael Morpurgo, I think you might really enjoy either of these:
I think some of Michael Morpurgo's inspiration for this story might have come from the classic story, Kidnapped, by R L Stevenson. You might like to have a look at these:
If you really enjoy the idea of boy and dog working and travelling together through difficult times, you could have a look at this story set during the Second World War: