The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I
Mark Greenwood. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3913-6
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.
Reviewed on: 05/26/2008