Little Manfred By Michael Morpurgo Published by HarperCollins Children's Books ISBN 978 0 00 733966 2 One of Hollywood's blockbusters due to hit cinemas this Christmas is Steven Spielberg's War Horse, adapted from the book by one of youth fiction's favourite authors, Michael Morpurgo. His new novel, Little Manfred, also tells the story of an animal and a war, but in a different way. The dog in Little Manfred isn't even a real dog. It's a wooden toy stuck on four wheels. Morpurgo's story was inspired by a toy dachshund at the Imperial War Museum in London. Charley and her younger brother, Alex, live on a farm on the south coast of England. Their mother is very fond of a little wooden dog that sits on the windowsill, and the two children are about to find out why. The year is 1966. England has just won the World Cup against Germany. It is a glorious summer, and they meet a German who was a prisoner of war and who has come back to relive some memories. As a young sailor, he was captured and held captive in England. He worked on a farm and made a wooden toy dog that he gave to a girl. He now wonders what happened to both. Little Manfred is the simplest of stories, but it goes deep into themes of nostalgia, friendship and the nature of war. Morpurgo is experienced enough to keep the tale on the right side of sentimentality, and he is helped by the watercolour sketches of Michael Foreman.