TITLE: Escape from Shangri-La
AUTHOR: Michael Morpurgo
PUBLISHER: Egmont Press
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1998
NUMBER OF PAGES: 207
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought in a box set
Everything was normal until a stranger turned up on the doorstep and said he was Cessie’s grandfather. He’s great, until he starts forgetting things and has to go to a nursing home. Cessie misses him a lot, but she still doesn’t understand the mystery of something he kept on saying: “Don’t let me go to Shangri-La, Cessie.”
I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I got through it pretty quickly. It was a warm and friendly story, about family and love and history, as much of Morpurgo’s works are. I didn’t feel that involved with this story, however, but I did enjoy it.
The plot is simple but effective: stranger on the door, mysterious place he doesn’t want to go, and then… argh, this is hard, that’s a great spoiler.
Escape from Shangri-La talks a lot about WWII and it’s based around the D-Day landings and the boats which were used, which is how the climax of the plot happens. Something I really like about Morpurgo’s work is that he takes unknown characters and/or situations and puts them into big historical events. There were so many boats on D-Day that a lot are often forgotten about, and he takes one of these “forgotten” (read: fictionalised, in this instance (at least, I think)) boats and makes them real and remembered.
I didn’t really get “into” the characters, aside from Cessie’s granddad as I loved the history and romance aspect. To be honest, I think one of the biggest character developments came from a very minor character!
Escape from Shangri-La is a nice little kid’s book, but I wouldn’t suggest it for older teens and/or adults like some of his other works (such as Dear Olly or Cool, which, although they are totally kids books, are great for adults too especially if you’re trying to explain something to both yourself and a child (Dear Olly deals with physical disability and Cool deals with a child in a coma)). It was a nice way to spend an afternoon.