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Journey into the unknown

Michael Morpurgo has a rare talent for full-blooded adventure stories which reflect on some of life's major issues. His longer novels carry older primary children into the choppy waters of complex emotions on the back of irresistible storylines. Dear Olly (Collins Children's Books pound;9.99) is a moving story told in three voices, which marries two hazardous journeys: a swallow's trip to southern Africa, and the decision of a talented young man, Mat, to break away from his family's ambition for him to become a vet so that he can work in a poor community in Africa.

Weaving these two stories together is the voice of Olly, Matt's younger sister, who bravely bears her anxieties about the fate of these two travellers. Dear Olly deals with the harrowing consequences of the use of land-mines as well as the emotional roller-coaster of family life. A challenging and memorable read.

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