Sharon reviews AN EAGLE IN THE SNOW by Michael Morpurgo, Feiwel and Friends, 2017, 133 pages 

Is mercy ever the wrong choice? 

It’s the middle of the second World War.  London is being bombed, and Barney’s home has been destroyed.  He and his mother are traveling by train to the country to escape the danger.  Riding on the train with them is an old soldier from the first World War.  When war planes strife the train, the conductor pulls into a tunnel to wait until the attack ends.  Barney is very afraid of the dark.  To ease his fear, the old soldier tells him a story.  As he tells the story, the old man lights matches to further alleviate Barney’s fright. 

During the first World War, a British private was faced with a wounded German soldier.  He chose to spare the life of this soldier.  Private Tanney went on to be the most decorated private of the war.  In later years, the German soldier would in turn become one of the most hated people in history, starting the second World War and responsible for the death of millions.  Private Tanney was driven to wonder if compassion was, in the end, the right decision.  What would you do? 

When the train leaves the tunnel, the old soldier was gone.  But the burnt matches were still there.