Roly, the Anzac Donkey by Glyn Harper
It’s a pleasant reminder that some good stories can come out of terrible situations. The ANZAC invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula was one of our worst moments in our collective history, but out of it came our nation’s very identity.
For a complete history lesson about New Zealand’s involvement in World War One, I recommend sitting down with good old Uncle Google. Failing that, turn your TV on in the weeks coming up to the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day this year and you will get yourself up to date. The great thing about history is everything there is to learn has already happened and there’s not going to be anything new to learn.
That’s not to say you’ve learnt it all yet. Cue this book. Roly, the Anzac Donkey. Whoa, hang on, you mean Simpson’s Donkey right? No! Who wants to read about an Australian war hero? Not me, give me the New Zealand version any day.
I’ll be taking this book straight along to my son’s school library and insisting each and every child there is forced to read it. Forced! Much better than learning about a different countries hero.
Turns out, Simpson wasn’t the only clever dickie to turn a Donkey into a make shift ambulance. This is the true story of Richard Henderson, a school teacher from Grey Lynn who was a medic during the Gallipoli landings and of course his donkey, Roly.
Told from the donkey’s perspective, which will definitely appeal to younger readers out there, the true face of war is delicately exposed to the reader. It’s not a gore fest, it’s true facts shaped to help young minds understand the lengths people went to in order for them to be able to enjoy the freedoms they have today.
The author, Glyn Harper, coincidentally a former teacher turned soldier too, uses both his career skills to capture the good that always triumphs over evil in a war situation.
A great read, of historical importance, truly apt for the lead up to Anzac Day.
REVIEWER: Drew Thompson
TITLE: Roly, the Anzac Donkey
AUTHOR(S): Glyn Harper
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House