After War Horse some of my Year 9s requested to read the sequel Farm Boy, having enjoyed the first novel. We were all surprised by how very different this book is. It is much, much shorter than War Horse. It's a thin tome anyway, but it also contains a great many illustrations, making it even shorter than it appears. It is a much easier read too - I would say a reading age of less than 10.
It also isn't really a sequel, more a spin-off, I would say. It's like Joey to War Horse's Friends. We all enjoyed it as a story - it's heart-warming and entertaining, but it doesn't pack the emotional punch or paint such a clear picture as the first book.
We had some great discussions during the course of the reading - two particularly memorable debates were about the way family stories get altered into legend, and about adult literacy and the implications of not being about to read.
I've just had a quick squizz at the reviews on Amazon, and had a good laugh at the person who claims the book has "been rushed out to capitalise on the success of the War Horse film". A quick look at the publication dates might have suggested that this was not quite the case - Farm Boy was published in 1997. Much as 1997 might feel like the other week to me, I am reliably informed that it is, in fact 15 years ago.