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Private Peaceful (After Words) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: After Words
  • Mass Market Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439636531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439636537
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7 Up–At 15, Thomas Peaceful, like many other English soldiers in World War I, is too young to fight, but he lies about his age. Now at the front in France with his older brother Charlie he stands a lonely nighttime vigil for reasons that are not explained until the book's end, watching the minutes tick by and reflecting on his past. Using first-person narration, Morpurgo draws readers into this young man's life, relating memories that are idyllic, sobering, and poignant. Tommo thinks upon the role he played in his father's accidental death, the adventures that he shared with Charlie, his relationship with his childhood friend Molly, and the experiences that he has had since entering the war. Finally, he describes how Charlie disobeyed a direct order to stay with him after he was wounded in action, fully aware of this decision's dire consequences. While this story is not based on any one individual, Morpurgo has personalized the British tactic of executing their own soldiers "for cowardice or desertion," memorializing these men without passing judgment. While readers see the events through Tommo's eyes, the author does not lose sight of the war's effects on the teen's friends and family. Reminders come in the form of letters from home, relationships with other soldiers, and observations of battles. This thoughtful novel touches on themes of humanity and duty, and features brilliant characters whose personal decisions have earned them their very own badges of honor.–Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. In this World War I story, the terse and beautiful narrative of a young English soldier is as compelling about the world left behind as about the horrific daily details of trench warfare: the mud, rats, gas attacks, slaughter. At 15, Thomas lied about his age in order to follow his beloved older brother, Charlie, to fight in France. Now, nearly two years later, as Thomas sits waiting in the dark for the horror he knows will come at dawn, he remembers it all. Growing up as a poor farm boy in a happy family, he was always close to Charlie and to their brain-injured brother, Joe, a character Morpurgo draws with rare tenderness and truth. Thomas and Charlie even loved the same girl; Charley married her, but she writes to them both. Thomas also remembers British brutality, from the landlord who threatened the family with eviction if Charlie didn't enlist to the cruel army sergeant who tried to break Charlie's spirit. Charlie may be too perfect, almost a Christ figure, but it's Thomas' viewpoint of the brother he loves. Suspense builds right to the end, which is shocking, honest, and unforgettable. Be sure to add this to titles in the Read-alikes, "War to End All Wars" [BKL N 1 01]. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain's best-loved children's book writers. He has written more than 100 books and has won the Smarties Prize, the Whitbread Award, and most recently the Blue Peter Book Award for PRIVATE PEACEFUL. He is also the author of WAR HORSE, which has been made into a Tony Award-winning Broadway play and a Golden Globe-nominated film. Michael was Writer in Residence at The Savoy Hotel from January to March 2007, and previously he was Children's Laureate from 2003-2005, a role that took him across Britain to inspire a love of reading in children. You can visit him online at

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Sad, sad, sad -- very well-written and suspenseful.
cathy nasenbeny
Michael Morpurgo's book, Private Peaceful, is an excellent work of historical fiction.
Ashley Goldberg
I read this book with my 13 year old son for a summer reading assignment.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Turner on May 21, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This short book is set in two contrasting locations the uglyness and agony of the First World War as well as the main character's home enviroment, the Devonshire countryside. The book tells the tale of two brothers growing up in a poor but suportive home environment, which gets progressivly worse after the death of their father. It shows how the local gentry could force those without resourses to do as they were instructed. This conflict between the gentry and the working classes is one of the main motive forces in the story. Michael Morpurgo shows how ultimatly the older brothers refusal to be broken in spirit led to his undoing. A very well written and enjoyable book, not just for young adults. Its a book that speaks up for those soldiers who were put to death by the the officer corp of the British Army.

A final thought on this topic; Back in 1997 Tony Blair seeking election as the next Prime Minister made an election promise to give posthumous pardons to these men. to date he still has not delivered on this promise.

OK so in the end Blair came through with the pardon when he was needing a boost the polls just before an election if memory serves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Private Peaceful has a very interesting premise: Set against the backdrop of World War One, we follow brothers Charlie and Tommo as they grow up and subsequently enlist in Britain's army to fight the Hun. Each chapter begins sometime during a very long night as Tommo remembers all the adventures and trials he and his family endured together. Morpurgo does an excellent job of building suspense as we learn slowly that Tommo is dreading the coming of morning, though the reason is unclear until late in the book. By then, we are so emotionally vested in this story that the realization of what's coming is devastating.

Private Peaceful (Peaceful is the family name) is a short book that packs a wallop of emotion. However, at times Morpurgo doesn't move the story along as quickly as I'd like, though of course war itself is like that. Tommo doesn't waver in his commitments, whether to his brothers, his soldiering, or his love for his brother's wife; it's this love for Molly that I found immature on his part. The brothers are realistic in their devotion to each other, and Morpurgo is skilled in bringing us to the climax that tests those bonds.

Overall I enjoyed this book, though I felt it might have done a little better with Tommo being less focused on his own feelings. The book would make a great addition to a history teacher's repetoire; it illustrates the devastation of trench warfare and the unrealistic notions of young men enlisting to fight an unknown enemy. Ultimately packing a powerful punch, this is indeed a book I find easy to recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Private Peaceful is a must read book by Michael Morpurgo and I would reccomend it to people from 10 years onwards. This is because it is a quite long book and has some complicated words.

The novel is about the Peaceful brothers , Charlie and Tommo, and their life story. The Peaceful brothers venture into war at a young age and the tension and excitment goes up from there.

The book is a novel of romance,war friendships and realationships. All of these features add to the exellence of the book.

GET THE BOOK NOW!!! Daniel,11,Wantage
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Kreed on January 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Peaceful is whiling away a long night remembering what his life has been like up to now. He narrates the events that brought him to France during WWI with his brother Charlie, a rebellious and good hearted soul. Tom has to lie about his age to join the army, but feels he has to come in order to keep his brother "out of trouble." But trouble comes anyway. Tom's memories serve to make the Peacefuls and their close bond real, and help the reader to understand just how alien his war experience is to him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When Tommo's brother Charlie is about to get executed, Tommo thinks about the 18 years of his life with Charlie the night before Charlie dies. They are in France in the British Army in WW I. Charlie is about to get executed because he did not listen to his Sergeant. Charlie did not go out on the battlefield because he saw his brother get hurt and wanted to take care of him. Tommo thinks about being friends with Molly. Tommo and Charlie met Molly at school. Molly became Charlie's wife. Tommo was in love with Molly. Also Tommo thinks about all of the things he did with his family, Mama, Papa, Big Joe, Molly, Charlie, and Great Aunt Wolf. Tommo is also thinking about how Charlie and he annoyed their great aunt. They used to let mice in the house because their great aunt hated mice. Tommo thinks that it was his fault when his father died. He did not notice that a tree was falling and he was in the way. His father had to push him out of the way and the tree fell on his father. Finally, Tommo remembered that Charlie would take him to school and would teach him things. I feel that this is a historical fiction book for kids 10+. The reason I feel that is because it involves war and execution. I have no feelings for the book. One thing that would make the book better would be to have the story happen in order from beginning to end instead of almost end to beginning to end.
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