For a moment he thought he had been hit himself. In the head maybe, that would be it. For there it was, chomping the grass like its life depended on it.
A flaming donkey.
When Jack Simpson lands at Gallipoli, his job is to carry the wounded away from the battle with his fellow stretcher bearers. But when both stretchers and bearers are scarce, Jack wishes he had a donkey to carry the wounded. When he does find a scared, scrawny donkey, who he names Duffy, Simmo sets to work, carrying the wounded to safety. The partnership of man and donkey starts as a practical way to help the wounded, but it is soon also a deep bond between the two, and a pairing which will become a part of Australian history.
The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded is a wonderful children’s novel which focuses on a well-known piece of Australian history. The story of Simpson and his Donkey has been retold many times, but this version offers the dual perspectives of both the man and his donkey friend, as well as occasional chapters from the viewpoint of other characters, including several chapters focussing on Richard Henderson, the New Zealand soldier who took over Simpson’s work after he was killed.
This is history which is accessible for young readers, built on a well researched base and fictionalised in an interesting format.
The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded, by Jackie French
Angus & Robertson, 2009
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Also by Jackie French
The Camel Who Crossed Australia (2008)
A Rose for the ANZAC Boys (2008)
Macbeth and Son (2006)