Review: ‘Twist of Gold’ by Michael Morpurgo

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Monday, October 25, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

Title: Twist of Gold

Author: Michael Morpurgo

Published: Egmont, 2001, pp. 300

Genre: Young adult historical fiction

Blurb: Sean and Annie have fled the potato famine in Ireland for America, leaving their dying mother behind.  They are the only O’Brien children to have survived their family’s suffering.  The worst is not over as they embark on a hard and dangerous journey all the way from Cork to California.  One thing gives them the courage to go on: the hope that they might at last be reunited with their father.

When, where and why: My mother was kind enough to pick this one up for me and get it signed and dedicated by the author from a bookfair that I wasn’t able to attend.  I was in the middle of university at the time, and so this book was pushed aside by other books on which I had to write essays.  I picked it up now because I wanted something short and light to follow The Woman in White.  It’s book 24/50 for my Books Off the Shelf Challenge.

What I thought: I’ve loved every single one of Michael Morpurgo’s books that I’ve picked up since I first read Why the Whales Came many years ago.  He is, in my opinion, one of the best older children’s authors still writing, and Twist of Gold serves as a wonderful reminder of why that is.

The story of Twist of Gold follows two children as they journey from Ireland to Boston and then onwards through America in search of their father.  Along the way, they are helped by a string of supporting characters who are all well-drawn and engaging.  Morpurgo is able to make the reader warm to each of these people in a very short space of time and each one is a carefully crafted individual so that although the story develops in a fairly formulaic manner (children get into trouble and are rescued by kindly person) it never feels repetitive or dull.  I was also pleased that Morpurgo doesn’t feel the need to tie all of these characters into the ending in a contrived manner, but leaves them as steps along the journey.

The writing, as always, is very skillful and the sort which can be enjoyed by readers of any age, which for me is the mark of a good children’s book.  His vocabulary choices are sometimes challenging but always appropriate to the age range for which he writes without ever feeling dumbed down.  His descriptions are full and evocative, instantly conjuring up arid deserts or crowded city streets.  The story is full of adventure but is sufficiently grounded in reality to be believable.  I would definitely recommend this book for children of eight and up.

Where this book goes: Even if it hadn’t been signed, this book would still be staying with me as it’s a lovely story.

Tea talk: As I read this book in one sitting on the train between home and London there was no tea in sight.  Train tea is unpleasant, and even if it weren’t, the buffet service has been inexplicably removed from my train in the mornings, so no opportunity to buy it anyway.

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