War Horse is a children's novel set in Wartime Europe, from before the declaration of World War One to shortly after the Germans surrendered to the Allies.
The narrator of the novel is a horse called Joey, an anthropomorphic cavalry horse who begins his story as a foal growing up on a farm and becomes a central player in the War, going to France with the English Army before being captured by the Germans and being put to work first with the Cavalry and later pulling the ambulance cart that transported the wounded.
The novel carefully documents the reality of the battles in France, with its frightening gun positions dug deep into trenches, and it's open spaces of muddy ground bordered on all sides by barbed wire, No Man's Land between the British and German armies where much of the fighting took place. The novel describes the harsh terrain, treacherous weather and the devastating casualties of war. Our narrator Joey has an eye-witness account to share with the reader and his unique perspective provides a thought-provoking observational of the futility and terror of World War One.
Joey is first introduced to us as a foal who lives in the South West of England, in the county of Dorset. Doeset is the neighboring county to Devon where Michael Morpurgo, the novel's author, lives, and much of the area's wartime history and it's countryside character are well known to him as a local. Morpurgo is an equine advocate and founded a charity enabling inner city children to experience living and working on a farm in the heart of the countryside. This passion for the traditions of farming inspired many of the settings in the novel. Morpurgo is a former Childrens Laureate, the highest honor a children's author can receive in Great Britain.
War Horse is widely considered to be a modern children's classic and has been made into both a movie and a stage play.