Sixteen-year-old Frank and his horse Daisy, leave with Frank’s dad and his horse to join the Australian Light Horse when WW1 breaks out. Frank hopes to come back honoured and win the girl he loves. But father and son are separated. Dad is sent to the Dardanelles where he is soon killed, and Frank and Daisy end up in Egypt. This is the story of their shared experiences, and the deep permanent bond forged between man and his horse during that time.
The men who survived the battle came home after the war. About 150,000 horses were sent from Australia to the Middle East to take part in the war. Only one returned. What happened to the other horses? We do find out.
This heart-wrenching novel puts us into the thick of things; into the battles and the ethical dilemmas faced by many soldiers and how they handled them. Morris Gleitzman has written a book of great sensitivity and gentleness regardless of its war theme. His characters, both animal and human, are created with consideration. Each page is an emotional salute to the real soldiers and horses that took part in that war.
I shed many tears reading this book and could not put it down before the last word. It’s a work of sheer brilliance which honours the author and his subjects.
Title: Loyal Creatures
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: Penguin, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: 28 May 2014
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Fiction, Young Adult Fiction