Wednesday 10 April 2013

Light Horse Boy

Light Horse Boy by Diane Wolfer, illustrated by Brian Simmonds (Fremantle Press)
HB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9-781-922-089-199
Reviewed by Neridah McMullin

In 1914 Jim and Charlie abandon the Australian outback for the excitement and adventure of the war to end all wars. But in the Light Horse they quickly discover the brutal realities of life on the frontline. And nothing will ever be the same again.
Light Horse Boy is a beautifully crafted book encompassing a culturally significant Australian story that is little known but deserves to be so much more. It’s a behind the scenes look at the legendary Light Horse Brigade and their experiences in World War I.

The story itself is delightfully well written but it’s the engaging and fascinating layout that combines text with primary source historical documents and letters, telegrams, original photos and stunning charcoal sketches done by Brian Simmonds that really grabs you. It has the intimate feel of scrapbook and it’s a story to take your time over. A story to be pored over.

Brian’s artwork is very expressive and you’ll find yourself riding on every emotion that these boys experience in their journey. Brian’s illustrative style is particularly suited to this story, the black charcoal capturing the seriousness and sadness of war.

The symbolism of friendship and mateship is iconically identified and well defined in this story. I think you can read this and understand more what it means to be Australian and why we feel the way we do about certain things.

At the beginning of the book Diane Wolfer gives an overview about the role of horses in the war and what became of them afterwards. Even though this story does cover some tragic and grim events, it doesn’t overtly dwell on them. 

Every Australian school and library should have a copy of this book.

Dianne is an author of thirteen books for teenagers and younger readers. This book is a companion book to her best selling Light House Girl. I haven’t read this one but am rushing to my local bookstore now to get it!
Neridah McMullin is the author of three books for children. Her latest book is an Indigenous folklore story called 'Kick it to Me!' It’s an ‘aussie rules’ story endorsed by the Australian Football League. Neridah loves family, footy and doing yoga with her cat Carlos (who also just happens to love footy!).

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