Wednesday, 7 March 2012
By Michael Morpurgo
196 pp. HarperCollins. £6.99. (Ages 8 and up)
Rating: 5 Stars
Michael Morpurgo is FAMOUS. Michael Morpurgo is so famous that at today’s book fair everyone was shoving past each other to try and find one of his books. However, “Running Wild” sat on my shelf for over a year unread. It is by Michael Morpurgo and I am not interested in most of his books, unlike most people in my class who have his whole (or nearly whole) collection. Michael Morpurgo’s books are less appealing to me for three reasons: most of them are about domestic animals, most of them start off with an adventure but then they quickly detour into drama before getting on with the story, and because he uses some description that is not needed.
This book was set in the Indonesian rainforest. It is about a boy named Will who is saved from a tsunami by a very unusual elephant called Oona. Will has to try and learn how to survive in the rainforest with the help of Oona. You might guess that I read this book because of the adventurous cover, which is actually misleading because the cover looks Indian, although the story is set in Indonesia. Anyway the actual reason I read this book is because my mom urged me to after reading it herself and liking it, and because we were going to The Red House Book Awards and we wanted to have read it before having it signed by Michael Morpurgo.
I think that the story would be much better if Michael Morpurgo took out the first two chapters. They have absolutely nothing at all to do with the rest of the story and don't even really make any sense. You might not figure out how good the rest of the book is if you start snoring before you are even on the second chapter. Besides taking away the first two chapters, I think he could expand the part about the bad people who catch him in the forest. The villains are based on real-life threats to the rainforest. The baddies cut down the forest to plant palm oil trees, kill mommy orangutans to steal their babies and sell them as pets, and kill tigers to sell their fur.
I really liked how the author noted some real life problems like illegal hunting and burning trees to grow palm trees in place of them for palm oil. I wish the writer would write more about the growing of palm trees in place of the rainforest because that applies to the whole forest and is serious. The author gave some hints about his own opinion because most writers make the main characters have the same opinions as themselves. I discovered from the subtle hints in the book that the writer thinks that what people are doing to the rainforest is bad and I completely agree with his opinion. The reason I agree with the author is because I've actually been to the Indonesian rainforest. While I was there I learnt about what people were doing to the rainforest and how it was affecting the orangutans, gibbons and lots of other animals. I thought it was really sad. I even saw illegal logging and saw people cutting down the rainforest.
The writer may think that he can write about just any animals and no one will notice but he is completely wrong because in Indonesia they do NOT have any long tailed lemurs or any humming birds! In spite of these big differences between my adventure and Will’s adventure, there were some similarities, for example he did see some of the same animals as we saw such as gibbons and poisonous snakes. When I came to the part where the bad people had him locked up in a cage and were deciding what to do with him I started to shiver with fright that the boy and the three orangutan babies would never get out again and felt a bit like I was there, in that situation.
Meanwhile the writer could have written about the characters in much more detail because sometimes I didn't understand what the characters look like or who they are. Provided the information I did get about the characters, I think Oona was a bit like the guide we went to the rainforest with, and I think that Will is a bit like ME. I think that the writer made the characters a little bit unrealistic because wild orangutans do not just come down and hold peoples’ hands, people cannot swing in trees that well, and elephants don't understand humans. Besides these things that make the story unrealistic, there are some things that make Will realistic, like feeling sad about death, not knowing what to do, and getting angry from sadness.
I think that this book is similar to “The Primate Puzzle” because they are both about going to the rainforest and trying to save the animals. For anyone who has read this book and liked it, I strongly recommend to you “The Primate Puzzle”.
This book was so good that I wish the writer would write more good stories like it. I think you should be at least nine to read this book because you may not understand the boring parts and it will be twice as boring for you if you are not nine and up, even the exciting bits might be a little bit boring if you are too young. This book has taught me that Michael Morpurgo is actually quite a good writer and has inspired me to read another book by him ("Escape From Shangri-la") and swap one of my books for his book ("Adolphus Tips").