Charley’s Mum cries when Little Manfred, a toy dachshund on wheels which had been given to her as a child, gets broken. Charley doesn’t understand why this toy is so important until, one day, a chance meeting on the beach leads to the unfolding of a poignant story.
The toy had been made for Charley’s Mum by a German prisoner of war who had lived and worked on the farm where Charley and her family still live, until his repatriation at the end of the war. But he wasn’t just an ordinary PoW; he was one of just a few sailors to survive the sinking of the Bismarck. His remorse and anger about the destruction of British and German lives prompt his return to Britain in an attempt to come to terms with all that he has lived through. The 1966 World Cup Final serves as the backdrop to his return visit.
This book is classic Morpurgo – a touching, tender and emotive narrative about bravery and humanity. And as with so many Morpurgo classics, it is based on a true story. The dachshund, which was made by Manfred Heide and Walter Kreutz, was donated to the Imperial War Museum in 2005. It was then introduced to Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman when they visited to discuss a story project for the Museum’s Once Upon a Wartime exhibition. When a British sailor who had rescued Germans from the sinking Bismarck told Michael Morpurgo his personal story, the seeds of Little Manfred were sown.
Foreman’s iconic illustrations work in perfect partnership with the text to create yet another inspirational novel from one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers.