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The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

In Brief: A quiet and readable story about the changes wartime brings. Loyalty and friendship. Breaking a serious promise.

Cover of The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tipps

Author: Michael Morpurgo

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published in: 2005

Age Range: Pre Teens

Period: Mid 20th C

Setting: A British south coast village

Genres:  Growing-UpHistoricalWar


Characters:

  • Boowie, the 12-year-old narrator who recounts the story his Grandmother tells him of her village during the War.
  • Lily is Boowie's Grandmother, a young girl during the war.
  • Barry is an evacuee from London, taken in by Lily's family, who finds a passion for farming.
  • Adie is a cheerful American soldier who befriends Lily and her family.

Synopsis:

Lily and her family and friends are told that they have just a few weeks to leave their village which is to be used as a training ground for the D-Day Landings. Lily's cat Tipps is left behind, and some American soldiers stationed nearby help her look for her, in the process befriending Lily and her family.

Notes:

Michael Morpurgo does his usual thorough job of presenting an adult's story through a child's eye view, in this case through Boowie's young eyes reading his Grandmother's diary. The themes of the story: the impending D-Day Landings with the corresponding build-up of tropps; the south-coast villagers forced to leave their homes and knowing that they might not return; the uncertainty and dangers of war; the sacrifice made by those left behind, and their corresponding generosity. All these are portrayed vividly and simply.

All the characters are sympathetically portrayed although filtered through a child's prejudices. It is only, for example, when Mrs Blumfeld the foreign supply teacher comes to their farm and persuades Ivy's grandfather to move from the place he's spent his life, that she changes in Ivy's eyes from being a teacher, ridiculed for her foreign accent and humorous name, to being a real human being with a rather tragic history.

Lily's cheerful loyalty is her greatest virtue. She sticks by Barry, who lost his father at Dunkirk, even when he's moody. “He didn't want to talk. He didn't want to look at me even. He did want me to stay though; I could tell. I sat down beside him and we said nothing to one another for a long time, which is what only true friends can do.” She can't bear to see her cat lost and goes looking for him in the now prohibited village despite her promise not to. When she feels guilty over her lack of enthusiasm at her Dad's leave, she promises herself to pray for him every night.

Themes:

  • Generosity & Sacrifice in wrtime
  • Military secrecy and honourable disclosure
  • Was Lily right to break her promise and go looking for Tipps?

Mrs Blumfeld was right. The Yanks are practising almost every day now. Most days now you can hear the whoosh and thump and crump of the bombs in the distance. I was coming up the lane with Barry after school today when we heard it again. it wasn't close enough to make the earth shake, not like before. But we were close enough to hear the cracking and spitting of rifle fire, and Barry said it sounded more like they were machine guns because they were firing so fast. It sounded to me like a whole orchestra of war. It was far away but it was still frightening, and the strange thing was the birds were joining in too. It doesn't seem to frighten them at all.

Saturday 29th July 2006