Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I *1917*
Welcome to the last stop of Peachtree Publishers’ Blog Tour!
Please read on for more info about the book and giveaway. Thank you Peachtree for this wonderful opportunity to spread the word about Dog Chronicles!
The new Dog Chronicles series introduces young readers to the important yet often overlooked roles our canine companions played in major historical events. In Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I (Peachtree Publishers, $12.95, ages 7-10), written by Alison Hart and illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery, we meet man’s best friend at her finest in this 176 page book set in England and Belgium during the Great War.
What an eye-opener this fast-paced and moving historical fiction novel was for me! I had no idea that mercy dogs existed, yet after reading Darling, Mercy Dog of WWI, I learned and appreciated what a vital military role they played in finding and assisting wounded soldiers on the battlefields of Europe. Hart’s tightly constructed story begins with Darling’s recruitment by the military from the family who loved her, especially the two children, Robert and Katherine. The book then details Darling’s training period and finally focuses on her service as a mercy dog, braving life and death situations. Montgomery’s sketch-like illustrations done with various lines in assorted directions complement the story in their depictions of village life, battlefields and various characters.
Hart manages to convincingly share the tale in Darling’s voice so readers experience first-hand the stresses she feels and the successes she accomplishes as a soldier. In addition to all the satisfying action and adventure they’ll find in the book, kids will be drawn into the story because of several meaningful relationships detailed. First there is Darling’s relationship as beloved pet of Katherine and Robert. Second is her role as Mercy dog under the caring and watchful guidance of handler, Private Kent. There’s also a sweet friendship between Darling and a stray dog named Rags from Darling’s home town of Cosham in England. Before the war, Rags and Darling would roam the town together when, on occasion, Darling slipped free from her leash.
When at last Darling is faced with the prospect of being on an actual mission, she is scared but well prepared. “Hoping to pick up a trail, I kept my nose to the ground. The smells of burnt earth, gunpowder, and a hundred boot soles grew confusing.” Using all her keen senses, Darling the mercy dog locates a fallen soldier. With the story focusing more on the dog squad and Darling’s role saving soldiers, young readers will find this perspective less harsh than had it been a full-on WWI tale. There are some harrowing moments like when the Allied trench of Darling’s regiment is blasted by a barrage of enemy shells. Darling must race to find and dig out her colleagues despite a painful wound she’s sustained. Of course the questions remain whether she’ll get to them in time, whether she’ll recover from her wound and then, will she ever make it back from the Continent to Cosham and her dear Katherine and Robert?
Next up in this series: Murphy, Gold Rush Dog *1896*
The GOOD READS WITH RONNA giveaway opp begins today, Friday, October 4, 2013 and runs through Sunday, October 20th ’til midnight. Enter now by sending your name and address to Good Reads With Ronna by clicking here. Be sure to write DARLING/Peachtree Giveaway in the subject line. One winner of (1) one copy of Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I -1917- will be selected via Random.org and notified on Monday, October 21st. Click here to see our contest and giveaways rule page. Good luck!