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The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I Hardcover – May 27, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Often cheerless, this tribute to a WWI foot soldier and the donkey he used to evacuate the wounded doesn't shy away from representing the grimness of war. The husband-and-wife Greenwood (The Legend of Moondyne Joe) and Lessac (Caribbean Alphabet) tell of Englishman Jack Simpson, who, while fighting for Australia, stumbled upon a donkey. Greenwood matter-of-factly relates Simpson's brave deeds: "They made twelve to fifteen trips each day, carrying water to thirsty troops and returning with a soldier straddled over the donkey's back." Spreads showing the bandaged and bloodied are tempered by the naïve styling of the gouache illustrations. Only close examination of the dramatic scene of army boats going ashore under a barrage of Turkish gunfire will reveal the dead body floating in blood-tinged water. This account pays homage to the fallen of Gallipoli and one soldier's unique heroics in particular, though colorful folk art and a furry animal don't make the content any easier to digest. Ages 6-up.
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From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—Following the twists and turns of fate that brought World War I stretcher bearer Jack Simpson back into contact with a wounded childhood friend, this story attempts to pack too much information into a telling that is too simple. There are several hooks to attract readers' attention: Jack's adventurous nature, the drama of war, his coincidental reunion with Billy, and the role of Jack's donkey in rescuing wounded soldiers. However, with so many threads to follow, the story lacks focus. Complex historical events are pared down so much that they become nearly meaningless: How are children to understand why English Jack, who has been working in Australia, enlists because of the war with Germany, sails to Egypt, and ends up in Turkey? The folksy gouache paintings are colorful, dramatic, and detailed, and help to make the story's action more understandable. However, their sweet, cartoony style may limit the book to younger readers, while the story might be better appreciated by older readers who have studied World War I. Perhaps the most interesting information is in the back matter, where more straightforward explanations are provided about donkeys, mascots, Billy, and the respectful relationship between the Turks and their enemies.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763639133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763639136
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.4 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lientje on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a collector of Children's Illustrated Books. After having reached
around 2,000 in my collection I became somewhat fussier about what I
bought. Many books that are very good themselves are still very much like
other books that I already have. And so I purposefully search for books
with a different slant, often informational books or books with a foreign
location in the story.

The first thing that caught my eye was the marvelous, colorful, exotic
illustrations. I have a couple of other books illustrated by Ms. Lessac.
she is very talented. Then I discovered that I was familiar with the
story which made it even more appealing. I am a stamp collector and I
have a stamp from Australia on Simpson and his Donkey. I did a little
research on the topic because I had never heard of it before. I assume
that most people in the U.S. have not.

Bravo to Candlewick Press for so often publishing books that may not end
up to be on the best seller list, but are nevertheless among the "best"
books there are. I happened to buy Stone Age Boy on the same day.
Another great book by the same publisher
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tvtv3 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The only thing that most Americans might know about Gallipoli is that it was the name of an early Mel Gibson movie. The battle is well-remembered by Australians and New Zealanders. Though it involved the deaths of many men, it is thought of with great pride because it was the only place the Australians and New Zealanders were given front stage and proved themselves in the War to End All Wars.

Mark Greenwood's well-researched historical children's book tells the story of Jack, a young stretcher carrier who risks his life every day to pick up his wounded comrades in the battlefield. The costs of the battle are so high that the soldiers have a stretcher shortage. Jack finds a donkey he names Duffy that he enlists to help him retrieve his comrades. The image of the donkey walking on life-threatening paths with bullets zinging through the air and shrapnel bursting around because a symbol of comfort

This is a great children's book to teach some historical world culture to youngsters. The illustration by Frane Lessac are not remarkable, but capture the simple and realistic spirit of the story perfectly. I had never heard of the story of the Donkey of Gallipoli before. Now I have and am thankful to Mark Greenwood for telling such a moving and inspirational story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book portrays a common story found in any war. Childhood friends who through an inexplicable chance meet once again years later and promises kept. The book portrays in a profound manner such a friendship and how animals were entrusted to help the soldiers. WWI is so far, far away however this book brings to life the quiet tragedies and tender friendships made during this war. The drawings are splendid, just splendid.
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The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I
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