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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars42
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 August 2000
I have just finisihed reading this book to my three children, aged 9,8 and 5 and they all sat engrossed throughout not wanting me to stop. It is the story of the life of a Chelsea Pensioner and takes us from his childhood, as a football mad Chelsea supporter, through his WWII service to the present day. The book tackles some difficult issues, such as the concentration camps, but it is done in such a way that even the youngest of my children had no difficulty in dealing with the story. It is a truly wonderful book which takes the reader through the highs and lows of Billy's life and makes you laugh and cry throughout. The illustrations are excellent and when I finished reading it the children went back to look at the pictures again and again. I cannot recommend this book too highly.
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on 7 July 2006
I bought this book for my 5 and 7 year old boys judging that it was suitable for their age range based on the cover illustration (after all books don't often have age guidance on the backs!). Pretty soon we were into some fairly serious issues about war and alcoholism. I hadn't intended talking to them about the Holocaust until they were a bit older, but the main character is present at the liberation of Belsen.... so we had a lot of discussion about why people do terrible things to others. Anyway I had some concerns that the subject matter was a bit too old for them, but shortly after we finished the book something rather interesting happened that made me so glad we'd read it. As I left school one day a very drunk woman came staggering towards us swearing and shouting abuse. Of course, the children were fascinated and stood staring, whilst I was trying to drag them off before she started giving us too much attention. Later the boys couldn't stop talking about it, particularly her prolific use of the 'f' word. My son asked me if the woman was drunk, and when I confirmed that she was, he asked "Do you think something awful happened to her, like Billy the Kid, and that's why she's drinking, so she'll forget?".

Michael Morpurgo is excellent at developing imperfect adult characters - just like the adults in real children's lives, and I've seen how it helps them make sense of the world around them. We also saw him at the Hay Festival this year - he was wonderfully entertaining for both adults and children and again opened my sons' eyes to a whole new world..... I would recommend this book very highly, but be prepared that the subject matter is not easy.
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on 7 July 2006
This book was amazing! I really, really loved it. It was brilliantly written. I enjoyed it so much, even though I didn't think that I would. It is the moving story of a pensioner who fought in WW2, but had wanted to be a footballer.
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on 25 January 2014
Not a bad book but beware if reading it to your children. My sons school recommended monpurgo books and I read this to my six year old son but I wasnt ready for:

The main characters brother dying in the war
Italians who harboured the main character put up against a wall and shot at point blank range (together with an illustration of the shooting just in case the full horror hadnt sunk in)
Description of dying and dead people at a concentration camp
Main characters entire family being killed by a bomb falling on their house
Main character becoming an alcoholic

Really dont think this is suitable for primary age kids.
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on 26 February 2002
Like "Kensuke's Kingdom" Michael Morpurgo gently introduces his young readers to the horrors of World War II: this time through the eyes of a Chelsea Pensioner who was a crack player for Chelsea FC before joining up. Plenty of football for young fans but not too much. Moments of great joy mingle with episodes of great sadness; the illustrations by Michael Foreman are exquisite. My ten year old could not put it down.
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on 29 September 2011
Have just finished reading this to my 8 year old son who is studying World War 2 this term. I sobbed my way through the final third of the book - as I do with most of Michael Morpurgo's books. A perfect read and a perfect introduction for some of the more terrible events of the last century which cannot be ignored, however painful they are to address with your own children.
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on 11 June 2011
a life story as told by an old man

a life story with many feasible twists and turns

a life story which evokes different emotions

a life story that captivates the reader

a shortish story brilliantly written by michael morpurgo

the cover and title certainly encourages boys to read this book, but this book is for a wide audience of either listeners or readers

i preferred the hard covered version myself
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on 29 November 2015
My son, nine years old, choose this book from the School library as there he liked the soccer player on the title. He returned it after reading 70 pages and was seriously shocked. I read parts of the book together with him and I was really upset! Why does a rather sensitive nine year old boy need to get introduced to subjects as:
- prisoner of war camps
- executions (with illustration)
- concentration camps
- alcoholism and being homeless
at this age?
I give two stars for the book as it really nicely written, but I do not consider this a children's book at all. Maybe it would be nice to read for my teenage daughter, when learning about WW II, but I would not recommend this book to any children under 12 years old.
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on 26 March 2012
I love all Michael Morpurgo's books but this one surpassed all my expectations!!! Even better, if that is possible, than War Horse and Private Peaceful. Even if you don't like football, you cannot be unaffected by this amazing story.
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on 11 June 2016
When I think of Chelsea and books, I think 80s hooligans or 21st century mush and gush...billy the kid is the story that could put that club in a new positive light......the twists and turns....most tragic..war and another victim of terrible circumstance. A story of a life that anyone on our planet could endure. All at the hands of our twisted leaders!....great message about family..and how important to tell your kids ...we are all the same...Don't listen to they are a threat..invaded..or its good for the country..while getting us to wave flags....they who tell us are and always have been.....mad.!!!!!......all.human beings just and the same....national pride.?????? Billy the kid is warm, humane....sad...
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