Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I

The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I

Mark Greenwood
Illustrator:  Frane Lessac 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Candlewick, 2008   ISBN: 978-0763639136

During the summer months Jack and Billy give people rides on donkeys on the beach, and in the winter Jack delivers milk using a horse and cart. As he tries to stay warm on cold days Jack dreams of the day when he will be able to leave South Shields and sail away "on a great adventure."

And one day this is just what Jack does. After saying goodbye to Billy he sets sail for Australia where he gets a variety of jobs cutting cane, driving cattle, working in a mine, panning for gold, and working on ships. Jack is starting to feel homesick when he hears that England and Germany are at war. Jacks sees that enlisting in the army could very well solve all his problems. Here is his chance to do something worthwhile for his country, and he will get a ride home as well.

Only Jack does not get sent back to England. Instead he is sent to Africa where he is trained to be a stretcher bearer. Once his training is completed Jack is sent to Turkey as part of the Gallipoli invasion. It is while he serving here that he finds a niche that is all his own, one that allows him to make a priceless contribution to the war effort.

This very moving true story will show young readers that one person truly can make a difference in a war, even if that person is not a general or a high ranking officer. In addition readers will see that animals can also make a big contribution during hard times, showing great courage and determination. This picture book, with its wonderful story and its charming folkloric style paintings, is a fitting tribute to those who served their country with bravery.