Genre: middle grade historical fiction
Length: 165 pages
Setting: mostly Belgium, during WWI
Interest: It was the book chosen for our first American History Club meeting of the school year about WWI
Summary: Joey, the horse, is bought on a whim and raised on a farm in Devon, England. Albert, the son of the family, raises and trains Joey and the two share a close bond. Joey is sold to be a British cavalry horse, but he is captured by the Germans on one of his first cavalry charges. The Germans use him to pull an ambulance from the front lines. He spends the winter on a farm in Belgium, but is requisitioned to pull a cannon for the Germans the next year. Joey gets free during a bombardment and ens up in no-man’s-land. He’s taken back to the British side where he is reunited with Albert, who works at the vet hospital.
Final thoughts: This is a great book for middle-aged kids to read about WWI. It demonstrates many of the changes that WWI brought to fighting war, without being too graphic. We get a taste of the trenches and bombardments, but again, not the gory details of dead and dying bodies in no-man’s-land.
Joey makes an excellent surrogate for a solider in the war. He even had a horse friend that stayed with him most of the story, but dies because he couldn’t handle the stress of the battlefield. We strongly feel Joey’s sense of loss at that time. We also see that Joey engenders a fierce loyalty in the people around him who love animals. He’s willing to do anything for the people, and they’re willing to do the same for him. Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend to any kid who wants to read about WWI. I’m wondering how well the movie follows the book, and whether or not it’s appropriate for children. Anyone seen it and care to comment?
Title comes from: The main character, Joey, is a horse who goes to war in WWI
Reading challenges fulfilled: 69/100 in my 100 Book Challenge
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