Innocent Heroes: Stories of Animals in the First World War
War was quite different in the days of WWI. Allied soldiers spent miserable days and nights in cold, muddy trenches waiting for the many horrors the German army would throw at them. Besides the usual shelling and attacks with bayoneted rifles, the Germans used deadly gas that caused any caught in it to die horrible deaths. Radio communication was unreliable. Consequently, the men sometimes had to rely on animals — carrier pigeons, cats, specially-trained dogs of various breeds, and horses and mules. Several of these animals saved many lives and acted in truly heroic ways, even when badly injured. Some were even awarded medals for their brave acts. This book is historical fiction, following three fictional Canadian soldiers through the build-up to a great battle. Each chapter tells a bit of their story and how a heroic animal impacted what they experienced. Each fictional chapter is followed by a good write-up of a real heroic animal and its story. These include some grainy photographs. Excellent back-matter gives even more information. The writing is fine and the stories captivating. This will be a great introduction to WWI for the middle-grade set and others. Don’t miss this one.