Libby Hathorn - A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy - Hachette Children's Group

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A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy

By Libby Hathorn
Illustrated by Phil Lesnie

  • Hardback
  • £11.99

From award-winning Australian author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Phil Lesnie, an exquisitely illustrated and deeply moving story of the Somme.

Selected as a CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) Notable Picture Book of the Year 2017

From award-winning Australian author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Phil Lesnie, an exquisitely illustrated and deeply moving story of the Somme.

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.

A Soldier, A Dog And A Boy was inspired by Libby Hathorn's months of research on her uncle, who survived Gallipoli but went on to fight at the Battle of the Somme and was killed there in 1917 at just twenty years old.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780734416377
  • Publication date: 06 Apr 2016
  • Page count: 32
  • Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
This is a story of the Battle of the Somme, in Northern France in WW1. In dialogues and illustrations it shows the horrors of the conditions for the soldiers, and the desolation for the local people. A young Aussie soldier meets Jacques, a young French orphan, and realizes that he needs a human friend, as well as a dog. It is a moving story, simply but strongly revealed in words and pictures. This book is suitable for children of 7 years and older, preferably in the company of a school librarian, or another sympathetic adult. — Janet Croft, Janet Croft
This is a story of the Battle of the Somme, in Northern France in WW1. In dialogues and illustrations it shows the horrors of the conditions for the soldiers, and the desolation for the local people. A young Aussie soldier meets Jacques, a young French orphan, and realizes that he needs a human friend, as well as a dog. It is a moving story, simply but strongly revealed in words and pictures. This book is suitable for children of 7 years and older, preferably in the company of a school librarian, or another sympathetic adult. — Janet Croft

Fighting at the Somme in Northern France during World War One, a young Australian soldier spies a stray dog, and adopts it, promising it will eat grandly: bully beef bourguignon. He tries to do some tricks with the animal, but the sad-face dog does not understand him. They walk on together, the young man wanting to adopt him as his company's mascot. In the background the luminous illustrations reveal aspects of the war in which the young man and his fellow Anzacs are involved. Eventually a young boy approaches them and he tells the soldier that the dog is his. He is able to get the dog to do the tricks the soldier tried, but when the soldier suggests the boy go to an orphanage he realises that he must sleep rough, the dog by his side, as the orphanage will not allow a dog.
The soldier asks the boy if he can have the dog, but the boy refuses. The soldier then gives the boy money for the two of them and bids them farewell. As we see the soldier moving off through the field of red poppies, the boy chases after him, exhorting him to take the dog back to Australia. So the soldier walks off with the dog wrapped around his shoulders. But this is not the end. The end of the story will make readers think hard about what happened to the other children like this one, what happened to the animals involved in war, as well as the story of a young boy smuggled back to Australia, which actually happened.
Hathorn's research into her own family's history at Gallipoli gave rise to this story, and the illustrations by Lesnie give an incredible back drop to the tale. Readers will gain some insight into the effect of war on the landscape, as well as the populace and feel some of the privations felt by the soldiers through the illustrations. The names given to the dogs by the two will engage the attention of the reader, and they will be able to think about some of the words associated with World War One.
This is an interesting and thought-provoking addition to the collection of picture books about Australia's participation in war which have appeared in the last few years and will be a wonderful inclusion for any library, classroom or home.

— ReadPlus
a moving story — West Australian
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. — The West Australian
an exquisitely illustrated and deeply moving celebration of friendship — Good Reading
a deeply moving celebration of friendship in times of war — Daily Telegraph, Sunday Mail Brisbane
Hathorn uses the dialogue cleverly — Courier Mail

A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy is a touching story by Libby Hathorn, illustrated in beautiful water colour by Phil Lesnie. This picture book is written entirely in dialogue, and together the illustrations and the words bring to life the moving story of a young soldier, a dog, and an orphan boy.
Set in a World War One battlefield, the Somme, it carefully and lightly touches on the horror and heartbreak of war, while remaining light hearted. This book weaves a story of courage and friendship as the three characters help each other with different problems. The book begins with each needing something, and ends with each being given what they need by the others.
This beautiful book demonstrates the qualities of an ANZAC soldier; courage and mateship, while quietly but plainly showing the tragedies that war bought to France. Not only for children, this touching book will bring the family together as we remember the ANZACs.

— Military Books Australia blog
A Soldier, A Dog and A Boy by award-winning Australian author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Phil Lesnie. — Newcastle Herald
Ms Hathorn has written more than fifty books for children and young people as well as adults. — Illawarra Mercury

Set in the poppy fields of France in World War II, A Soldier, A Dog and a Boydips us into the action through dialogue.

Born from a photo of an orphan smuggled into Australia in a soldier's rucksack, this fictional tale brings France in World War II to vibrant life. In just a few words, we learn the plight of French orphans, how soldiers adopted the occasional lucky dog to be mascot and how lonely soldiers were in those days.

Phil Lesnie's snapshots of shipside farewells, the French countryside, ruins of a village and one adorable dog add depth to Libby Hathorn's story. Educational yet full of heart, A Soldier, A Dog and a Boy will be a treasured part of any WWII collection.

— Kid's Book Review

Best selling Australian children's author Libby Hathorn has teamed up with illustrator Phil Lesnie to produce a one of a kind, beautiful and moving picture book dealing with the ANZACS and the war conditions. Inspired by a photo of a returned Australian Solider who was had successfully smuggled a dog back from war, it offers a unique and honest depiction of the Australian war effort.
A Solider, A Dog and A Boy is a story that appeals to all ages. Set at Flanders on the poppy fields, it's an image that as Australians we all know very well. What's more the historical nature of the story, the friendship, love and care, means that readers of all age can share the story of a man, a boy and their dog as they start upon a beautiful friendship in the most unlikely of places.
Phile Lesnie has done an outstanding job on the illustrations in this book. His images not only compliment Hathorn's text, but they develop and expand the narrative that little bit more by visualising the war experience and the extra special bond one has with their furry companions. The size of the illustrations vary throughout the book from full double page spreads (with and without words) to snapshots of a variety of smaller images fading in and out of the page. I particular love the start and end pages which show the lone solider on his walk through the poppy fields at the start of the book. This image really hits home right away where the book is set, and who it is dealing with. Especially when you compare it with the final end pages of a family back in Australia enjoying the firework celebration many years later.
As usual Libby Hathorn has done a superb job with this book. Not only does the story carry an easy rhythm and natural cadence that is so typical of her books, but it's also historically accurate and carries a sense of emotional weight that hits you right where it hurts most, but leaves you smiling at the books close. By focusing the whole story (which is about a lot more that one dog) on the relationship with the dog Hathorn has made sure the story is able to stay true to it's honest depiction of the war, while remaining child friendly and easily accessible to its readers. The inclusion of man's best friend softens some of the more horrifying aspects of war, while still allowing an emotional connection that will leave you staggering. The latter is true particularly for older readers who will pick up on what isn't quite said in so many words towards the books end. All of which allows the reader to take in more of the war experience then they might first realise.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm just going to say this: A Solider, a Dog and A Boy is my all time favourite ANZAC book released this year. It's beautifully illustrated by Phil Lesnie, superbly crafted by Libby Hathorn and is just a sight to behold. It's a book I've read probably 3-6 times since purchasing this at the Newcastle Writers Festival back in early April, and it's a book I know I'll love for a long time to come.
A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy would make a fantastic addition to any child's growing library, while also being a honest resource for their educational learning about the ANZAC experience.
I highly recommend this book.

— The Never Ending Bookshelf

The soldier, a mule driver, likes to draw. Before he can get very far with his mascot, he meets a skinny boy, who claims the dog.
This book has quite a dose of reality. The details of the Australian soldier's uniform are accurate. There is mention of the rats, the poor food, the noise. Sepia coloured watercolours depict the ruined villages and the deforested landscapes with its endless mud.
There is a charming painting of a ship leaving a quay as the boys headed off for the great adventure. The young soldier uses expressions like 'Blimey'. When our soldier is talking of the ANZACS there are Sikhs in the group. The scarlet of the Flanders poppy is scattered through the book, as it is still today.
The books soft humour would appeal to a child. When the soldier gives the commands to sit, fetch and roll over the dog looks puzzled but does those things when commanded by the boy, Jacques, in French.
Jacques is an orphan who will not go to an orphanage because the orphanage will not take Victoire, his dog. However, knowing the dog will be well cared for; he sacrifices his own companionship and gives the dog to the soldier.
But the soldier turns after a few moments, and takes the boy, too.
This story is based on Hathorn's family experience and a photo in archives of a soldier holding open a sack to reveal a young orphaned boy who had been smuggled back to Australia.
This book provides an indication that there is a dark side to war in this simple story of a boy and his dog. The beautiful illustrations can lead to discussion at a suitable level; this is a sensitively told story.
In this age of refugees, this is one story of hope and goodness.

— Books at 60
Prize-winning author. — The Advertiser Lake Times
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