This is the kind of book where you flick through to have a little read for a few minutes … and an hour later you’re still sitting there, lost in the stories and pictures. Maria has followed up her 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year ANZAC Heroes with this collection of fascinating true anecdotes about 20 animals that took part in WWI and WWII. Horses and camels are included, of course, but there are also tales of dogs, cats, monkeys, birds, a kangaroo and even a tortoise. Each featured animal has a double-page spread with an easy-to-read block of text, a superb digitally-produced colour illustration by Marco, and several extras such as historical photos and information boxes.
Every effort has been made to provide background and easy-navigating information for young researchers. There’s a Contents section, an Introduction, relevant maps of the main battle fronts for both world wars, Timelines, a Glossary, an Index and a Bibliography, plus other extras such as the use of symbols to identify country of origin, and the inclusion of veterinary and animal welfare facts.
Readers of all ages will enjoy this book, from eight to 108, but I see it being of most benefit to primary and intermediate ages, particularly animal lovers. They won’t be able to resist the bright-eyed, appealing face on the cover – that of Horrie, the dog mascot of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman