Jonah’s house had been filled with laughter and music, until his mother had an accident. Confined to their small cottage, unable to work, Jonah has now become her carer while trying to keep up with his school work. A loner at school, Jonah feels an outcast, like Valeria, a Russian girl at his school. When rehearsals for the school play take a nasty turn for the worst, Jonah finds solace in the school chapel. His school was built in 1935 to house children from the foundling hospital, or orphans. While in the chapel Jonah finds a button as he hears the organ begin to play. He meets Nathaniel, a ghost over 250 years old. Jonah learns of the ghost’s story, how he was left at the foundling hospital with only this button to link him to his mother. Nathaniel lived with foster parents until he was old enough to go back to the hospital for his education. He was then apprenticed as a stable hand and, after his master fell gravely ill, was moved to another estate. It was here he met the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They become inseparable in what is a heart-warming story of love, discovery and friendship. The button is lucky for both Nathaniel and Jonah, who seems able to perform miracles.
This is a lovely story in Morpurgo’s well written prose, peppered with beautiful illustrations. The characters are real and one gets to know them quickly. Nathaniel’s story is interesting and takes the reader back in time.
This story is the result of Michael Morpurgo becoming a Foundling Fellow in 2012. Information about the Fellowship and museum can be read at the back of the book.
This story will bring aspects of English history to many young readers. It would make an enjoyable and intriguing read aloud, encouraging much discussion.
Many thanks to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.