A soldier, a stray dog and an unbreakable friendship.
Cheeky canine Stubby loved sneaking into the army training camp, particularly when the bugle sounded as that always signalled that food was about to be served. As the soldiers headed overseas to fight in the war, Stubby found himself joining them as a stowaway - smuggled aboard the Minnesota by Corporal Robert Conroy. Stubby was heading to war and what a little superstar he would turn out to be…
This is an incredible true story about one of the bravest dogs you will ever read about and retells his heroics during the first world war and how he ultimately became one of the lads on the battlefield. Stubby was at home amongst the soldiers and was a natural on the battlefield. Sniffing out the enemy, alerting his comrades to dangerous gas attacks and helping rid the trenches of rats were all in a day’s work. Stubby, like his fellow comrades, was brave, courageous, loyal and had huge heart. Even a stint in hospital, after he was to suffer his own war wounds, couldn’t keep this brave little dog down and he returned to his regiment before receiving his own army jacket complete with medals. Stubby was a hero and after the war he participated in a victory parade and visited the White House where he met two different presidents.
War is horrendous and Michael Foreman does an exceptional job of bringing the atrocities of war to a younger audience. The narrative helps readers understand what war was like as, “bullets are zipping and whistling around,” and “the sky is lit up by thunderous gunfire.” Watercolour illustrations are equally powerful featuring explosions, ruined villages, soldiers in gas masks, life in the trenches and even a blooded Stubby. Whilst this may all sound very dramatic it is perfectly pitched to its young audience and allows them to imagine what war was like without becoming frightening or traumatic.
No name is given to the soldier in the story, where the training camp is or where they are heading off to although this can be worked out by the waving of French flags. A note at the back provides lots of extra details that adds context to the story and helps to fill in some of the blanks.
A heart-warming and interesting story with a fabulous canine hero that rather than shy away from the horrors of war explores them in a way that is accessible to young readers.
Recommended for 6+.