Morpurgo’s latest novel begins with two brothers, Francis and Pieter, each as different from the other as one can imagine. On the evening of his ninetieth birthday, Francis looks back on his experiences in the Second World War and the events and people that would shape both of their lives forever. This takes him from Cambridge, to a farm in the countryside and beyond to places he never thought he would go.
Yet again, Morpurgo displays his ability to show a personal side to history. Recollection is used to great effect in the novel’s structure; Francis’s narration lends the story a unique point of view. Barroux’s illustrations make a beautiful addition to the novel’s form; light and dark tones are used to mirror the written text, with illustrated portraits supporting the sense of personal history.
Morpurgo should also be commended for his choice of subject matter in this novel. Francis is a pacifist and the story tells his wartime experience from this point of view. Morpurgo presents a fresh historical angle, one that is not often depicted in children’s fiction about this period of history. This is not done, however, at the expense of the plot. In the Mouth of the Wolf is an exciting and engaging story about the individual lives that made up extraordinary times.