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The Wreck of the Zanzibar

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In 1907, fourteen-year-old Laura, living with her family on one of the stormy Isles of Scilly, records in her diary how her dream of participating in a shipwreck rescue is finally realized.


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In 1907, fourteen-year-old Laura, living with her family on one of the stormy Isles of Scilly, records in her diary how her dream of participating in a shipwreck rescue is finally realized.

30 review for The Wreck of the Zanzibar

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I really enjoyed this. It's been a long time since I read any Michael Morporgo and really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed this. It's been a long time since I read any Michael Morporgo and really enjoyed it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hulaimat Iyabo

    Michael’s Great-aunt Laura has just passed away and the family are on their way home to the Isles of Scilly for her funeral. In her will, Great-aunt Laura has left him her precious diary and he later finds out why it was so dear to her. The diary dates back to when Laura was a young girl and of her troubled family life, which led to her twin brother running away to sea. This event devastated young Laura as she felt alone and lost without the closest person in her life. One day, Laura finds a lea Michael’s Great-aunt Laura has just passed away and the family are on their way home to the Isles of Scilly for her funeral. In her will, Great-aunt Laura has left him her precious diary and he later finds out why it was so dear to her. The diary dates back to when Laura was a young girl and of her troubled family life, which led to her twin brother running away to sea. This event devastated young Laura as she felt alone and lost without the closest person in her life. One day, Laura finds a leatherback turtle washed onto the shores. The turtle was injured and she tries desperately to push it back into the sea but the turtle was too heavy. She confides in the turtle and for the first time since her brother left, she is able to speak of her troubles. With the help of her Gran, she manages to push the turtle back into the sea. Soon after, a terrible storm devastates the Scilly Isles. Houses are destroyed, livestock perished and fishermen could not go out to fish. Life became bleak for the Islanders and food was scarce, until a boat wreck saves the people of the Isles and brings Laura’s brother home. This book fits nicely into themes my Year 5 class are learning in topic. The children are learning about Leatherback turtles, seas and islands. This book can be used for guided reading as it is short and easy to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Pinkett

    An emotional read at times. Enjoyable for all ages

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Read to Sam over a few days. At times i found this story very moving and emotional, but a lot of the rest of the time it was somewhat dry. Maybe aimed at children a little older than he currently is.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Louise Andrews

    A lovely book that I read with my son. Some real tear jerking moments and a lovely ending. My first Michael Morpurgo finished and I hope it won’t be the last we read together.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Another lovely read from the fantastic Michael Morpurgo. I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of his others (Kensuke's Kingdom, Billy the Kid), but it was a nice young person's fiction to whiz through in-between some larger reads. The story is interesting (about a young girl whose family experience turmoil when her brother leaves to sail around the world). The imagery created is excellent and Morpurgo certainly knows how to write a story of adventure, introducing sensitive themes, yet pitchi Another lovely read from the fantastic Michael Morpurgo. I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of his others (Kensuke's Kingdom, Billy the Kid), but it was a nice young person's fiction to whiz through in-between some larger reads. The story is interesting (about a young girl whose family experience turmoil when her brother leaves to sail around the world). The imagery created is excellent and Morpurgo certainly knows how to write a story of adventure, introducing sensitive themes, yet pitching it just right for young readers. It does not get too upsetting yet the storyline can be quite sad and does urge you to read on! All in all, 'The Wreck of the Zanzibar,' is a charming, easy read and one I would recommend to a friend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I read this in year 6 and I would recommend it to that age group. It features some tough topics, like a sense of abandonment, isolation, and loneliness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anne Hamilton

    The island of Bryher is bleak and barren. Laura's father, a harsh and taciturn man, has turned his son Billy against island life with his incessant demands. Billy wants to see the world outside. Laura just wants to crew the island gig but her father is adamant in his refusal. No girl on any of the Scilly Isles has been an oarsman on a gig and no daughter of his is going to be the first. When it comes to a choice between the rough, unrelenting work under his father's stern eye and the promise of a The island of Bryher is bleak and barren. Laura's father, a harsh and taciturn man, has turned his son Billy against island life with his incessant demands. Billy wants to see the world outside. Laura just wants to crew the island gig but her father is adamant in his refusal. No girl on any of the Scilly Isles has been an oarsman on a gig and no daughter of his is going to be the first. When it comes to a choice between the rough, unrelenting work under his father's stern eye and the promise of adventure held out by Joseph Hannibal, a sea-faring visitor, there's no contest. Billy leaves in secret on the General Lee. The hardship on the island deepens when a storm rips off roofs, smashes houses and drowns the few cows on which the islanders are dependent for their milk. Hope disappears. Even Laura's parents are estranged from each other because of Billy's departure. Then Laura finds a turtle, upturned on the beach, pecked by seagulls. With immense effort, she and her granny get it back to sea. It's not long before things are so desperate Laura wonders if she'd have pity on the turtle if it were to happen again. Turtle soup might help feed the islanders and restore granny as she sinks into a state approaching death. A miracle is needed to save the island, to save granny and to save the marriage of Laura's parents. In the middle of a ferocious storm, a ship is spotted foundering out to sea. It's the Zanzibar... A great story of hope restored, against all odds. The framing story of Great-Aunt Laura's will, while it works wonderfully to link the turtle with the Zanzibar, again creates that curious anomaly: a story that's more for adults than children, even though it's marketed as a children's book. Michael Morpurgo himself calls these 'crossovers' - and I wonder about them. Somehow for me, they dilute my enjoyment. I can't slip into 'one age' in the story and appreciate it at that level. I become conscious of story technique rather than the story itself. It was for this reason I marked it down a star.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    I'm usually fine with not a lot happening in a story but this didn't work for me when I read it. On saying this, discussing Billy's adventures would be exciting for children and perhaps the simple and rather dull aspect of life on the Scilly Isles at the turn of the 20th century was a true reflection. I liked the idea that the story closes with Michael, just as it opened with him. Morpurgo does this A LOT - a story within a story. I thought the opening was lovely and the chapters are brief with I'm usually fine with not a lot happening in a story but this didn't work for me when I read it. On saying this, discussing Billy's adventures would be exciting for children and perhaps the simple and rather dull aspect of life on the Scilly Isles at the turn of the 20th century was a true reflection. I liked the idea that the story closes with Michael, just as it opened with him. Morpurgo does this A LOT - a story within a story. I thought the opening was lovely and the chapters are brief with the first person narrative flitting between Michael and Laura. Elements of the story reminded me of Why the Whales Came which I thought to be far better. Written as a diary entry - I like the idea of doing up the classroom like a set from the book and using maps to find out where the Scilly Isles are and what they look like. Puzzle: The child in the story has a bond with a turtle around half-way through the book and I couldn't help wondering whether this was the beginning of Morpurgo's slight obsession of child-animal partnerships.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo a great read. Laura Perryman lives on Bryher Island and her dream is to use a rowboat but unfortunately, it's just not the thing a girl should do in the early 1900's. But Laura is still determined to achieve her dream and when a wrecked ship and a ferocious storm give her the chance to do this and save the island, she takes it. This book is another one of Michael Morpurgo's wonderful short reads. I recommend The Wreck of Zanzibar to someone who is fan The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo a great read. Laura Perryman lives on Bryher Island and her dream is to use a rowboat but unfortunately, it's just not the thing a girl should do in the early 1900's. But Laura is still determined to achieve her dream and when a wrecked ship and a ferocious storm give her the chance to do this and save the island, she takes it. This book is another one of Michael Morpurgo's wonderful short reads. I recommend The Wreck of Zanzibar to someone who is fan of Michael Morpurgo, someone who wants a short read or someone who just needs a book! I give this book a four stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Titilope

    I was forced to read this book in Year 6. My school had two year 6 classes, and we both had to read a Michael Morpurgo book for reasons unknown. Anyway, the other class got to read Kensuke's Kingdom and we were stuck with this. To put it simply; it's not really the most enjoyable book for an 11 year old. Pretty stale. I was forced to read this book in Year 6. My school had two year 6 classes, and we both had to read a Michael Morpurgo book for reasons unknown. Anyway, the other class got to read Kensuke's Kingdom and we were stuck with this. To put it simply; it's not really the most enjoyable book for an 11 year old. Pretty stale.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Discoverylover

    A friend of mine has expressed interest in reading these, so I'm reading them to give to her next time I see her. I enjoyed this one! It was interesting to read one that wasn't set during a historic event as such, and it was nice having no clue what was going to happen next! A friend of mine has expressed interest in reading these, so I'm reading them to give to her next time I see her. I enjoyed this one! It was interesting to read one that wasn't set during a historic event as such, and it was nice having no clue what was going to happen next!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Read because I will be using this book in my classroom as part of our 'Storms and Shipwrecks' topic. I very much enjoyed this book. The main character is really interesting and very believable in her actions. Looking forward to seeing how my children will react to this book. Would recommend. Read because I will be using this book in my classroom as part of our 'Storms and Shipwrecks' topic. I very much enjoyed this book. The main character is really interesting and very believable in her actions. Looking forward to seeing how my children will react to this book. Would recommend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Candycloud

    I cried.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Another nice historical fiction story by Morpurgo, set during 1907 with a shipwreck on the Scilly Isles. A simple enjoyable read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I still love Michael Morpurgo's children's books but I was expecting more from this one, there wasn't much going on. Still a nice story though. I still love Michael Morpurgo's children's books but I was expecting more from this one, there wasn't much going on. Still a nice story though.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Mills

    A lovely tale and I like a happy ending.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Toni Pearson

    The Wreck of the Zanzibar was one of my favorite books when I was around 10/11 I think. I was asked to take part in a special assembly to read my extract from and won a book voucher (which was like I had won the lottery at that age). I still have the book and opening it this morning I still have the scrap piece of paper that I wrote my introduction speech on. I loved the way in which Michael Morpurgo wrote the story, reading Laura's diary entries I felt that it was more personal and carried a lot The Wreck of the Zanzibar was one of my favorite books when I was around 10/11 I think. I was asked to take part in a special assembly to read my extract from and won a book voucher (which was like I had won the lottery at that age). I still have the book and opening it this morning I still have the scrap piece of paper that I wrote my introduction speech on. I loved the way in which Michael Morpurgo wrote the story, reading Laura's diary entries I felt that it was more personal and carried a lot more emotion. The story begins with Michael's great aunt Laura who has just passed away, who has left him her diaries for him to read. The diary is written over a year when Laura was 14 years old and documents her troubled family life that led to her twin brother running away to sea. This truly broke Laura's heart. The diary entries tells the story of this time for Laura and the events that led to Laura saving the day not just for her family but for everyone that lived on the the island of Bryher. Lots of people may think that this book is too depressing for children so young but I felt reading it as a child I was able to relate to elements of the book, as they weren't to different from experience I was dealing with at the time. This book can be quiet dark and depressing at time but like in life if you continue to persevere and try your hardest things will get better. I think this is great for children in upper Key Stage 2.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I read this book as a child when I was at Primary School and oh, did I love it. I never ever forgot it and I'm sure it's because of the injured turtle that Laura find's out on the shores. The poor thing was injured and Laura tries to help it back into the sea but cannot do it on her own, she confides in the turtle about the difficulties she has been facing. I found it really lovely, the thought of a young mind sharing their thoughts and feelings with animal, the way I would do with my pets. The I read this book as a child when I was at Primary School and oh, did I love it. I never ever forgot it and I'm sure it's because of the injured turtle that Laura find's out on the shores. The poor thing was injured and Laura tries to help it back into the sea but cannot do it on her own, she confides in the turtle about the difficulties she has been facing. I found it really lovely, the thought of a young mind sharing their thoughts and feelings with animal, the way I would do with my pets. The book has some other interesting parts relating to Laura - the great aunt of Micheal who has recently passed away and in her will, has left him a diary. I love diary related stories, such a great way of capturing a person in a most intense way, it's easy to write down one's feelings and be completely honest about all the emotions being poured out and etched on to the paper. It has some obvious events in the pages, but I won't go into all of them, other wise there's no point in reading it, if I'm just going to paraphrase the whole book in my review, but I just found it such a lovely little book. I couldn't resist in buying it to place on my bookshelf. Though it is a short little story, I find it an immense pleasure to read even now, I am all grown up. I think this book could be read by all, but I love it most because I connected with as a child.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Prudence and the Crow

    Morpugo is such an atmospheric and prolific author, it feels mean to not enjoy his books, which is, perhaps, part of the problem I had with this. I always think I'll love the work, and then sometimes I simply don't. Perhaps with this it's because there really isn't much to tell in this story, and perhaps in itself, that is a good change to have. There's a lot to think about, for younger readers, and a lot of putting oneself in the central character's place - imagining a kind of desolation it's h Morpugo is such an atmospheric and prolific author, it feels mean to not enjoy his books, which is, perhaps, part of the problem I had with this. I always think I'll love the work, and then sometimes I simply don't. Perhaps with this it's because there really isn't much to tell in this story, and perhaps in itself, that is a good change to have. There's a lot to think about, for younger readers, and a lot of putting oneself in the central character's place - imagining a kind of desolation it's hard to conjure up in an increasingly globalised world. The illustrations are gorgeous, for their part, though, and really very enjoyable as an alongside. It's a small, distant story, and it does have a very significant (and, as it transpires, titular) turtle storyline so if you happen to find those traumatic, even by mention, this might cause more strife than you were expecting. Not my favourite, not for me, but could be a good one for collaborative or imaginative reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janette Townend

    After the death of Michael's Great-Aunt Laura Perryman he inherits her diary and the story of the Zanzibar. Through the diary we learn that life is hard on the island of Bryher in 1907 for everybody and Laura and her twin brother Billy must do their bit to support the family. There is friction within the family and they must deal with first the upset of the disappearance of Billy, and their cows dying in a storm which devastates everything. Laura finds a turtle washed up on the shore and is dete After the death of Michael's Great-Aunt Laura Perryman he inherits her diary and the story of the Zanzibar. Through the diary we learn that life is hard on the island of Bryher in 1907 for everybody and Laura and her twin brother Billy must do their bit to support the family. There is friction within the family and they must deal with first the upset of the disappearance of Billy, and their cows dying in a storm which devastates everything. Laura finds a turtle washed up on the shore and is determined to rescue it, she knows that if she tells anybody they will kill the turtle for food, but the turtle is exhausted and will not eat. People are running out of food and all seems lost til another storm stops them leaving ... This little book is delightful written by a master story teller, a story of hope it would be a perfect bedtime read for adult and child. A winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award in 1995.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arti

    A short story - easy to read... The story is based in a small island (Scilly) that is struggling to survive after a storm devastates everything - boats are broken, houses have collapsed, animals are swept away and there is shortage of food... when all hope is lost a ship wreck saves them - bringing timber for repairs, livestock for livelihood and food... and the place starts to get back on its feet... an irony that someone's tragedy is another's saviour... The story told from the eyes of a young A short story - easy to read... The story is based in a small island (Scilly) that is struggling to survive after a storm devastates everything - boats are broken, houses have collapsed, animals are swept away and there is shortage of food... when all hope is lost a ship wreck saves them - bringing timber for repairs, livestock for livelihood and food... and the place starts to get back on its feet... an irony that someone's tragedy is another's saviour... The story told from the eyes of a young 14 year old girl captures the mood, the emotions, the hardships... but it is her attempt to save a turtle (despite her own hardship and hunger) that shines true... a heart warming anecdote of putting others ahead of your own needs, helping those in need with no expectations in return... a simple message that a good deed always comes back to you and in the end u get what you deserve...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    The Wreck of the Zanzibar had some interesting aspects to it but overall it just didn't appeal to me a great deal. Even though it is a young adult book, I still think it was too short. The brevity of the book simply didn't allow enough character development to make it more interesting. The part of the book I did like was what it revealed about life in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of England in the early 20th century. The importance of shipwrecks to the islands' economic survival was somethi The Wreck of the Zanzibar had some interesting aspects to it but overall it just didn't appeal to me a great deal. Even though it is a young adult book, I still think it was too short. The brevity of the book simply didn't allow enough character development to make it more interesting. The part of the book I did like was what it revealed about life in the Isles of Scilly off the coast of England in the early 20th century. The importance of shipwrecks to the islands' economic survival was something I hadn't been aware of before.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Sayer

    Michael’s Auntie Laura has died and she has left everyone a parcel. Inside Michael’s parcel is a letter and Laura’s diary. During these flashbacks of Laura’s diary we find out lots of things about Laura’s life in Scilly in 1807. I read this with my class and we all loved it. We all loved the descriptive writing and it inspired us to write some of our own. We are now on the look out for our next Michael Morpurgo book to read together.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Azrael

    An easy to read children's story presented in a diary format. It is simple and light, a well structured book. There is little in the way of a plot, but there is a underlying story of hoping her brother will return and trying to find a way to stay on the island that is their home. There are times when it is emotional and rife with hardships, but it is a sweet little book that is easy to enjoy and quick to be read. An easy to read children's story presented in a diary format. It is simple and light, a well structured book. There is little in the way of a plot, but there is a underlying story of hoping her brother will return and trying to find a way to stay on the island that is their home. There are times when it is emotional and rife with hardships, but it is a sweet little book that is easy to enjoy and quick to be read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie Adams

    Read this because it apparently inspired Kensuke’s Kingdom. Must admit that I can’t quite believe it. The book was very short, and I felt there was no time for the plot to really develop. I kept waiting for some action and excitement, but everything that could have been built up sort of just passed by with a slight mention. Not a fan of this one.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tia

    I finished this book in one day and I really enjoyed it. I went into it blind and it was a very emotional as well as deep read however I really liked it. It is short and just a quick read. I am not really into historical fiction and didn’t even realise it was till the end so it was just great.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Another engaging tale from this reliable author. This gives a keen insight into the harsh lives of the people living on the Scilly Isles and the joy of a shipwreck which offers the islanders access to all kinds of goods and materials to help keep them going. Morpurgo tackles some serious issues in a way that is accessible to younger readers but doesnt make them too candy coated.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Lovely gentle story with all of Morpurgo's great characters and beautiful writing. His characters and relationships are so real and believable. All the Morpurgo trademarks are there - an animal in trouble, a sad and lonely child, a wise elder and a wild and unforgiving landscape. Its a short book - you could read it and enjoy it in a single sitting. Lovely gentle story with all of Morpurgo's great characters and beautiful writing. His characters and relationships are so real and believable. All the Morpurgo trademarks are there - an animal in trouble, a sad and lonely child, a wise elder and a wild and unforgiving landscape. Its a short book - you could read it and enjoy it in a single sitting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I really liked a lot Michael Morpurgo's Shadow book and that's why I picked The wreck of the Zanzibar book from a library. I think I had too high hopes for this story. This story wasn't bad but it was pretty average for me. I really liked a lot Michael Morpurgo's Shadow book and that's why I picked The wreck of the Zanzibar book from a library. I think I had too high hopes for this story. This story wasn't bad but it was pretty average for me.

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