War Horse

Last updated Monday, February 22, 2016

Author: Michael Morpurgo
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0439796636
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2015

Synopsis: In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you ever had a pet? Do you treat your pet like family?
•  Have you ever ridden or been close to a horse? Do you like horses?
•  How were animals, like horses and dogs, used in the war?
•  What do you think the title means?

•  haggling-arguing over money
•  consolation-comfort
•  nickered-neigh/laugh
•  vicious-mean
•  nuisance--annoying thing
•  suckle-to nurse at an udder
•  intrigued--interested
•  obstinate-stubborn
•  gawkishness-clumsy
•  foreboding-fearful sense of something that may happen in the future
•  stamina-ability to maintain a physical or mental effort over an extended period of time

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Who was telling the story? Joey or Albert?
•  Why were horses important in 1914? (answer--they were the main source of power for transportation and farming)
•  Do you think animals can feel love or other emotions?
•  Have you ever lost or had to give away a pet you loved? How did you feel?
•  Where do you think the the story is set?
•  Do we still use horses in war?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Horse Silhouette---tear strips of colored paper and glue to paper; cut out a silhouette of a horse and glue onto the decorated paper; Draw or glue on a saddle or other items a horse would wear in war.
•  Draw a picture of Warhorse in battle.

Special activities:
•  Word Search

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!