This fortnight, every year around ANZAC Day, I feature three very special books in my book talks. These are Bill the Bastard by Roland Perry, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo and Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman. I was lucky to see the monologue for Loyal Creatures, from which the book was written, performed by an actor dressed as a World War 1 Light horseman not once, but twice, and each performance moved me to tears. The book did the same. This year I am also going to share with the boys The Goose Road by Rowena House. Details of these book talks can be found below.
This year I will feature three books for Year 7, one from which I will directly read. Details are below.
Six-month old Joey is bought by Albert’s father after he has had too much to drink. Joey and 13-year-old Albert quickly become firm friends. Albert’s father makes a bet with a man one night, after having too much to drink, that Joey can learn to pull a plough in 1 week. He comes home that night and tries to train him. Joey has had little to do with Albert’s father and does not trust him.
Read page 13 – 15
Joey becomes useful on the farm until the war begins. The army is looking for horses and the 40 pounds on offer will save the farm. Albert does not know this is happening until it is too late.
Read pages 32-end pf chapter
Albert does make it to war, with the intention of finding Joey. It is not what he expects.
I don’t read part of this book out as I am restricted with time, but I do tell the boys about it. Below is (roughly) what I say, with my white feather in my hand.
Loyal Creatures was written by Morris Gleitzman after Michael Morpurgo asked he write an Australian story involving a horse at war.
Beginning in 1914, Frank and his father are working on a farm rigging up irrigation. Frank wants to go to war but he is only 15 years old. His mother is dead and his father has decided not enlist so he can look after his son. This causes some angst in the community and his father is sent a white feather, anonymously. Frank finally convinces his father they should sign up and when Frank is 16 they do, taking their horses Jimmy and Daisy with them. On their way Jimmy becomes injured so only Daisy goes. They are sent to Egypt where Frank’s father is then sent to Gallipoli. Frank and Daisy stay in Egypt with their main job to find water for the other men and their horses. This is the story of their war, where they see action and Frank and Daisy become closer. This makes what he and other light horsemen have to do even more difficult.
The Goose Road
Angelique lives in rural France. It is during the first world war and life is very hard. After her father dies, her and her mother struggle to keep the farm going. So Angelique, with the help of her Uncle, decide to walk their flock of Geese, worth quite a lot of money, across France, to sell. They come across some very helpful people, but also some people who want to see them fail and destroyed. A story of courage, determination and adventure in a difficult time.
My review for Goose Road can be found here
This book is the story of a horse, but not any ordinary horse. Bill was a headstrong and determined horse and this book, written for a general readership, was introduced to me by the boys at my school in my first few months. I bought my father a copy for Christmas that year and my husband also enjoyed reading about this special horse in Australia’s history.
Read from page 1 to page 4, end paragraph 5 “He bloody well sneered at me!’.
Bill threw every man that tried to ride him. Larger than the average Light Horse, usually Walers, Bill was sent with some 8000 horses as a member of Harry Chauvel’s brigade. Originally sent as a pack horse, Bill quickly gained a reputation of a survivor. No one was able to stay on him, and was known as ‘the unrideable one’ amongst both the ANZAC and British troops.
Each day in Gallipoli there was a seven-kilometre run to deliver mail and urgent supplies. The Turkish soldiers lay bets to see which sniper could hit rider or horse. Bickworth, an English soldier, had a reputation as a very good horseman. He decided to take the challenge in order to earn one hundred pounds. He was to ride Bill.
Read page 74, para. 11 “Bickworth patted Bill on his left… to page 77, end papr4 “…were already being settled.”
However, there was one man who could ride Bill the Bastard. Michael Shanahan came from Roma in Queensland and formed a bond with Bill no other man had seen before. Together they fought in many battles, at great risk. Heroes together, this is the story of Bill the Bastard.