A Soldier, A Dog, and a Boy by Libby Hathorn

Published: 22nd March 2016
Goodreads badgePublisher: Lothian
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
Genre: Children
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A moving story, told completely in dialogue, about a young Australian soldier in the battle of the Somme. Walking through the fields away from the front, he finds what he thinks is a stray dog, and decides to adopt it as a mascot for his company. Then he meets Jacques, the homeless orphan boy who owns the dog. The soldier realises that Jacques needs the dog more – and perhaps needs his help as well.

With stunning illustrations from Phil Lesnie, this is a deeply moving celebration of friendship in times of war.

Look, who doesn’t love a good cry at a picture book. I am usually so worried when there’s a ‘serious’ style picture book with dogs because it’s always going to make me sad and this was no exception, but it was also so beautiful.

I loved this story, and as a note in the back tells you, it’s based off a picture and Hathorn’s own family history. I was so worried when one combines dogs and ANZACs, but Hathorn has told a beautiful story that makes you emotional and feel all the feelings while not being too sad.

Hathorn tells the story about the ANZACs and war without being too detailed for younger audiences. She mentions the ruined towns and orphaned children, but the words are so lyrical and so lovely that it’s almost like a dream reading them. The story follows a soldier who finds a lost dog and who then tells him about coming back to camp, how he’ll make him their mascot and protect his ears from the fireworks at night. Along with the dog he also finds a young boy and their conversations are some of the most beautiful things I’ve read.

I don’t want to ruin the story because it’s so so wonderful and heartwarming, but it is a beautiful tale to read and one that will delight children and adults alike. With so many ANZAC stories out there I think this is one of my favourites. It’s lyrical and honest and beautiful. It brings out the emotional content with respect and with restraint and with joy. A must read.

You can purchase A Soldier, A Dog, and A Boy via the following

Booktopia | Hachette

Kinokuniya | QBD

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson’s Bookworld

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