Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The blurb: Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy…and his dad.
In the deserts of Egypt and Palestine he experiences all the adventure he ever wanted, and a few things he wasn’t expecting. Heartbreak, love and the chance to make the most important choice of his life.
From Gallipoli to the famous charge at Beersheba, through to the end of the war and its unforgettable aftermath, Frank’s story grows out of some key moments in Australia’s history.
They were loyal creatures, the men and horses of the Australian Light Horse, but war doesn’t always pay heed to loyalty. This is the powerful story of a young man’s journey towards his own kind of bravery.
My review: At a whim I looked for a book about animals, because I wanted to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I came across this one. Years ago I had a huge involvement with horses and decided this would be the book I would read next (or listen to, in this case). I didn’t read the blurb. I knew nothing about the storyline. I picked the book purely because of the horse on the cover.
The book turned out to be about the Australian horses sent overseas during WWI. Specifically, a breed of horse called walers, which were sturdy, hardy horses, able to travel long distances in hot weather with little water.
Loyal Creatures is about a young (under age) boy and his horse, who join the Australian Light Horse and go to Egypt, and later to Gallipoli. The boys innocence and the horse’s loyalty are touching. Their adventure together is something to be proud of and memorable, yet filled with heartbreak. The boy soon grows up as he faces the reality of war, death and having to make hard decisions.
This is a story of fiction, but it is easy to believe that it could have happened to a boy of the same age in real life. The character’s are vivid, believable, complete. The story was the same.
With ANZAC day just around the corner, I must remind everyone to remember those who gave their lives for us, including all the animals, not just the horses. Recommended.