Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Afghanistan Pup

The Afghanistan Pup by Mark Wilson (Lothian/Hachette)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN: 97807344153525
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
Part of Wilson's war-themed series of stunning picture books, this latest story is set in Afghanistan and features Kinah, an Afghani schoolgirl who finds an abandoned, starving puppy in her village of Hafir, and an Australian soldier fighting in the Afghanistan war. The puppy is destined to be loved by both.
Kinah takes the puppy to school which she is thankful to attend as some adults do not believe girls should be educated. It is a dangerous time as Spring has arrived and fighting will begin again. When the school is bombed, the injured puppy survives and goes looking for his mistress but she is not there.
Australian soldiers arrive to assess the extent of the damage and one of the engineers finds the weak puppy who has returned to the school. He takes it back to camp to clean its wounds and give it food and water. When the pup is well enough, it accompanies the soldier on patrol until the situations become too dangerous. One day the soldier does not return and the pup waits in vain.
Mark Wilson has portrayed in word and wonderful, atmospheric illustrations his moving story of a soldier's life in Afghanistan and the cruel impact of war. That a pup could survive the insecurity of life in a war-torn country is remarkable and it is due to the pup's own instincts that he has a happy ending.
Young readers will find the action pictures and newspaper clipping-style inserts most evocative and informative. A special inclusion is an illustration of a soldier with the Australian flag created by James Farquarson who served in Alpha Company 5/7th Battalion, RAR. It is located almost at the end of the book.

Mark Wilson is an award-winning author/illustrator whose picture books are instantly recognisable by the consistency and quality of his work.

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