'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 11 November 2010

Review: Lofty's Mission

I love it when a story for children contains historical resonance that is both heartfelt and personal, but also informative and fascinating.

In Lofty’s Mission, I most certainly learned something I never knew before – and most happily had my heart touched along the way.

During World War II, Australian pigeon breeders donated more than 13,000 baby pigeons (known as ‘squeakers’) to the army. These birds were trained as messenger pigeons and their heroic efforts even earned some birds a prestigious Dickin medal, awarded to birds for bravery.

Can you imagine?

So, when young Harley McNamara is asked by his father to hand his special bird – Lofty (named ‘371’ by the army) – over to the war efforts, Harley is devastated. But Lofty’s talents are put to formidable use, and the bird saves the lives of many men.

Back at home, Harley contracts polio and is hospitalized, while at the same time, his feathery friend is injured on duty. And when a Dickin Medal arrives in the mail, Harley fears for his friend’s safety. But not to worry – Lofty may never fly again, but he is alive and well, and on his way home.

This news is enough to encourage this young and very sick boy to stand from his bed and take his very first tentative steps to health. And when Lofty arrives home, he becomes the perfect stock bird to breed another round of wonderful, champion chicks.

Bell has added a fascinating glossary at the back of Lofty’s Mission so children (and adults!) can learn more about these incredible homing pigeons. With extraordinary 3D paper-created illustrations by the incomparable David Miller, this fine book is one that will stand the test of time – both historically, and in terms of the emotional impact this story will have on anyone who reads it.

Lofty’s Mission was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Award for Children, 2008.

Title: Lofty’s Mission
Author: Krista Bell
Illustrator: David Miller
Publisher: Lothian
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780734409812
For ages: 6-12
Type: Picture Book

This book is available from Krista Bell's website - http://www.kristabell.com/ for A$25RRP. Krista can even sign a copy for you!

In March 2011, Lofty's Mission will be reprinted in paperback by the ANZAC Commemoration Committee. Exciting!