Review Blog

Mar 19 2015

The Anzac puppy by Peter Millett and Trish Bowles

cover image

Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 9781775430971
(Age: 6+) Recommended. War. Anzac. Animals. When Lucy's dog has a pup, she calls it Freda, but the family cannot afford to keep her, so Lucy sits with her outside their home until someone comes along to claim her. That person is Sam, a young man going off to war, and he takes Freda with him as a lucky mascot.
This moving story of Anzac, based on the true story of the mascot Freda of the NZ Rifle Brigade, will tug at people's heart strings as they read of the bond between man and dog, of the relationship they had over the grueling years of the war, of the men who died along the way.
In this fiction tale, the dog and his master return to New Zealand there to meet up again with Lucy and the three share a bond which ends in becoming a family.
The real dog returned to England and ended her days in Staffordshire where a small headstone marks her grave. As part of the 100th commemoration of World War one, her original headstone was placed in the Army Museum in New Zealand, with her collar inscribed with Freda.
With so many books about Anzac published at the moment, this makes a different story to present to a class or reader. It shows the theatre of war with pen and watercolour images designed to inform and engross the reader, and presents in spare prose the outline of the story. A double page at the end reprises the real tale of Fred and readers will enjoy seeing how the story has been augmented for a children's book.
In the classroom a group of picture books could be used to pinpoint where all are set, widening the children's idea of where the war was fought.
Fran Knight

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