It’s 1914 and 16-year-old Frank and his dad volunteer for war; Frank’s excitement is palpable as the pair set sail for a great adventure in Egypt. But father and son are swiftly parted as Dad is deployed to Gallipoli. Bereft of his father’s counsel and companionship, Frank finds camaraderie and loyalty among the members of his brigade as they head into the desert to engage the enemy.
Nothing can prepare young Frank for the horror of war or the grief of friendship lost, but throughout this experience, Frank’s trusty companion Daisy, his loyal horse, is steadfast. It’s through his conversations with Daisy that Frank reveals his frustrations and fears, and ultimately his incredible courage and resolve.
Loyal Creatures is a remarkable story based on and inspired by historical fact. It’s a powerfully moving drama, in which Morris Gleitzman captures the smell and heat of the desert terrain, the fear and mayhem of war, the spirit of the larrikin Australian and the bond between men and their horses. Yet its drama is infused with a dry Aussie humour – I laughed and cried. It’s unforgettable. Read it with a box of tissues by your side. Highly recommended for ages 9 and up.
Athina Clarke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.