Kid’s Book Review: In the Mouth of the Wolf

Kid’s Book Review: In the Mouth of the Wolf

About the Book and Author

This true story of two brothers against the backdrop of the Second World War is told by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo and wonderfully illustrated by Barroux. There is personal connection as it happens to be the story of the author’s uncles making it all the more poignant.

Francis and Pieter are brothers. As the shadow of one war lingers, and the rumbles of another approach, the brothers argue. Francis is a fierce pacifist, while Pieter signs up to fight. What happens next will change the course of Francis’s life forever … and throw him into the mouth of the wolf.

In the Mouth of the Wolf cover
Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s best loved writers for children with sales of over 35 million copies. He has written over 150 books and won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Award. In 2005 he won the Blue Peter Book Award for his novel Private Peaceful, which was also adapted into an acclaimed stage play.

Michael was Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005. The charity Farms for City Children, which he founded thirty years ago with his wife Clare, has now enabled over 60,000 children to spend a week living and working down on the farm. He was knighted in 2018 for services to literature and charity. You can listen to our podcast with him to find out more about his writing.

Barroux is a French graphic artist best known as an illustrator for children. He grew up in Morocco and has always wanted to create a book representing contemporary Africa. He settled on Alpha when he met an African refugee in his workplace in Paris. Barroux explains, “His name was – is – Togola and he came to Alice’s Garden with no official papers and unable to work although he had been in France for seven years. And I was talking to him and thinking this is so novelistic, you could make such an incredible book out of this man’s story.”

Book Review

My favourite character is Christine Granville, also known as Pauline...because she was brave and loved to cause mayhem and mischief

This book was based on the true story of Francis Cammaerts, Michael Morpurgo’s uncle. This is the story of his journey through the war from pacifist to spy.

At the start of this book, we are introduced to Francis at the age of 90. The book is based on his life and is telling us all the highs and the lows of his war journey. Each chapter focuses on a different part of his life from being a teacher to being a spy in enemy lines.

Although there are a lot of characters the main ones are, Francis, the pacifist and spy, Pieter, the pilot and brother of Francis, Pauline or Christine, the courier and one of the ‘three musketeers’. The three Musketeers is what Pauline, Francis and Auguste called themselves. Auguste is the bravest and best radio operator in all of France and he is mentioned at the start but then is not mentioned again.

My favourite character is Christine Granville, also known as Pauline. She was my favourite character because she was brave and like Francis said in the book loved to cause mayhem and mischief. When I read the follow up notes at the end of the book I found it heart-breaking that she had been murdered. I had really bonded with this character because Michael Morpurgo described her so vividly.

My favourite part of the book was when Francis got captured and Pauline came to his rescue. She captured his guards and interrogators. This was especially amazing because he was being held in the Gestapo headquarters and his interrogators were well known Nazi officials.

The book had a very good ending because we got to learn all the main characters backstories and reasons for becoming spies and it was also a good ending because we found out it was a true story and this was what made the book so gripping.

The book is also beautifully illustrated by French illustrator, Barroux. I loved the gentle pictures which seemed very simple but conveyed so much emotion. From the happiness of the little girl with the bunch of flowers to the destruction and sadness of the bomb falling on the farm-house. The illustrations added so much to the story.

I would recommend this book to 8+ but the hidden messages are more suitable for older readers.

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Reviewer Profile

Josh young reviewer
  • Name: Josh
  • Age: 12 years
  • Likes: animals, Minecraft and art
  • Dislikes: having to walk slowly and bad handwriting!
  • Favourite Book: Expedition by Steve Backshall
  • Favourite Film: We Bought A Zoo
  • Favourite Song: I'm Still Standing by Elton John