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Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

Darling, mercy dog of World War I by Alison Hart ISBN 978-1561457052

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

I have read many dog lover books and this is one of them.  I think the society has finally come to the point when we can recognize the hard work of others and celebrate that hard work.  In World War I many animals were trained to help the soldiers, if it were horses pulling wagons or dogs finding wounded soldiers and delivering messages.

We may remember C.S. Lewis’s story of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” — where we hear a tell of what it is like to be a child in war torn Britain. “Darling, mercy dog of World War I” tells a story of what it was like to be a dog.

There is a dog tax so it is more expensive to have dogs in war time.  Eventually with the father away and finances tight, they need to give up Darling.  The war department thinks that she will make a good messenger dog for she seems smart and quick.  However, on her final test, she is thinking more of going home than completing the task at hand.  However on her way across the field en route to home, she hears that her handler is hurt and she goes to him and then finds help.  At that point the trainers learn that she is much better suited to being a mercy dog, a dog that finds wounded soldiers.  She successfully completes her training and goes to the front.

This is a great story — with a happy ending (a rare occurrence for a trained military animal in World War I) but we learn about the possibility of unhappy endings.  This story is fictional enough to make it a pleasant reading experience but also has just enough truth to know that these animals were amazing and the trainers were truly hard working.

If you have an early independent reader who enjoys animal books — this is a great read.  A highly recommended book!

Product Description:  At home in England, Darling is a mischievous but much loved pet to Robert and Katherine. But when the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, they send Darling off to be trained, even though it is very hard to say goodbye. Darling goes through training along with many other dogs and is ultimately used as a mercy dog, seeking out injured soldiers on the battlefield and leading the medics to them. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling is faced with a major challenge.

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The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander  ISBN 067003178X

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

I had been looking at this book for a year and a half before I finally picked it up and said I just have to read it. 

I am a mother of young children — so, of course I know Disney’s version of the last days of the Romanovs and the kitchen boy who runs off with a Grand Duchess.  Therefore I was curious what another person had to say about the character of the kitchen boy.

It took me a long time to read this book.  The book opens with an old man who is writing a letter of instructions to his grand daughter for after he dies.  It frustrated me to have the grandfather keep disrupting the flow of the novel — the grandfather in the “Princess Bride” helped the story along but somehow this grandfather was annoying.  I kept thinking to myself that’s it, I won’t finish it.  Yet for some reason I kept going back and finished it and did indeed enjoy it.  It was a book that may not be a thriller that you can’t put down … but it persistently hung on you making you want to finish it despite the fact that you thought you knew how it ended.

It was a harsh time in world history and it is sad to see the passing of tradition and history in so cruel and inhumane a manner — I did like the use of letters and diaries to add to the realism of the book and think just possibly … what could have happened?

From Amazon.com:

From Booklist
The final days of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family are still a fascinating mystery. There is no one left to bear witness to what happened at the execution. Or is there? Alexander takes a very real, but forgotten and overlooked, potential witness, a young kitchen boy, and creates an amazing fictional account of what may have transpired. Leonka was working as a kitchen boy to the Romanov family when the Bolsheviks captured them, exiled them to Siberia, and imprisoned them in their house. Because of his lowly position in the household, Leonka was able to see and hear secret things. And he does keep them secret until decades later, knowing he is ready to die, he reveals all he knows about the imperial family and their horrific death. Alexander includes as much historically accurate information into his fiction as possible, and he includes actual letters and notes attributed to the Romanovs, which add a touch of authenticity. He also renders the plot beautifully with one final jaw-dropping and satisfying twist. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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