Alone on a Wide Wide Sea – Michael Morpurgo
Harper Collins 2006
Paperback 312 p.
It is serendipitous when you pick up a book by one of your favourite authors at an op shop – and you have not yet read it. Michael Morpurgo is always the consummate storyteller. He is an author generally commanding a read-it-in-one-sitting approach. In this novel for older readers, Morpurgo combines two narratives.
The first is the history of Arthur Hobhouse, boat builder, who arrived in Australia as one of the British child migrants following World War II. Somewhere between 7 000 and 11 000 children are estimated to have been shipped around the world between 1947 and 1967. While many of these were welcomed into kind and loving environments, there are many dark and disturbing accounts of those who were exploited and mistreated. Arthur was one of these unfortunate victims but happily is rescued and set on a path to full and happy life, as a master boat builder.
The second half of this superbly crafted recount is the journey of Arthur’s daughter, not yet twenty and undertaking a lone world voyage on the Kitty IV, the yacht lovingly built by her father for this very purpose. Her mission is to find her dad’s long lost sister, Kitty. Allie’s story is told through her journal account of the voyage with all attending risks, misadventures and triumphs.
At all times gripping, sometimes poignant, adventurous and inspiring and with dashes of humour, this book would sit well on any secondary library shelf.
Recommended for both male and female young adults (as not confined to a single protagonist of either gender) – capable readers of 13+ should enjoy this thrilling story.