The Tortoise and the Soldier: A Story of Courage and Friendship in World War I

Michael Foreman. Holt, $16.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-62779-173-1
Foreman (War Boy) offers a fresh variation on the wartime soldier and animal buddy theme. Based on actual events, the story is told in dual flashbacks. Trevor Roberts, a British journalist, recalls a formative assignment as a young reporter (“really, I was just the office boy”) for his village newspaper during the 1950s. He is asked to cover the annual hibernation awakening of Ali Pasha, a giant tortoise (and local celebrity) owned by former Royal Navy WWI sailor Henry Friston (whom Foreman met as a boy). Instantly connecting with Trevor, Friston shares his wartime photos, memorabilia, and diary. The entries spark Friston’s passionate, sometimes humorous, reminiscences of harrowing battles with Turkish soldiers in Gallipoli, homesickness, and concern for his brothers fighting in France. The heart of the story is Friston’s serendipitous encounter with Ali Pasha, who catapults onto the soldier’s head during a skirmish and becomes a lifelong companion. The multilayered storytelling, Foreman’s dramatic watercolor illustrations, and reproductions of period mementos provide a nuanced portrait of the bonds between Friston and Ali Pasha, as well as between the older man and a curious journalist-in-training. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 11/10/2015
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-1-62779-174-8
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-1-250-09051-5
Prebound-Sewn - 128 pages - 978-0-606-39291-4
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