The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett, Illustrated by Trish Bowles (Scholastic NZ)
PB RRP $15.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
'In the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, in the middle of a war, a puppy was born.'
Lucy names the puppy Freda but sadly the family cannot afford to keep her so a passing young soldier, Sam, adopts her and takes her with him to war. Sam and Freda become fast friends, comforting each other through harsh times on the battle front, with Freda becoming a mascot for all the young men fighting in the trenches.
The Anzac Puppy is a beautifully written book. It is a story about the realities of war, the hardships, the friendships and love. It has wonderful sentence construction with much internal repetition such as 'The long, cold nights at the front soon turned into long, terrifying months'. This is a lovely story to read.
The illustrations are soft and sensitive, depicting the emotions of people along with the bleakness and isolation of war and the warmth of reunion.
Inspired by the true story of Freda, a Great Dane who was mascot to the NZ Rifle Brigade during World War I, the author has done meticulous research. The facts of this ‘real’ Freda are given in an equally readable illustrated double page spread at the back of the book.
Ending on a positive note, the echoing of the story’s beginning creates a satisfying conclusion which will appeal to early primary aged children, especially dog lovers.