Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy ... and his dad.
In the deserts of Egypt and Palestine he experiences all the adventure he ever wanted, and a few things he wasn't expecting. Heartbreak, love and the chance to make the most important choice of his life.
From Gallipoli to the famous charge at Beersheba, through to the end of the war and its unforgettable aftermath, Frank's story grows out of some key moments in Australia's history.
They were loyal creatures, the men and horses of the Australian Light Horse, but war doesn't always pay heed to loyalty. This is the powerful story of a young man's journey towards his own kind of bravery.
Read Andrew Cattanach's review
Gleitzman’s new novel, Loyal Creatures, continues his legacy of placing ordinary children in extraordinary, trying circumstances. Frank is a bullish bush kid, of a size that belies his tender years. His mother has passed away and he lives a hard-working life with his father.
War has broken out and Frank is desperate to enlist, despite being underage. He pleads with his father to allow him to bring his loyal horse Daisy to the showgrounds for a trial, but his father refuses. One day Frank’s father receives a white feather in the mail, a signal of cowardice from the community, and gives in to Frank’s requests on one condition. They go to war together, and thus begin a journey that will change their lives forever.
There is an incredible empathy to Gleitzman’s work, spilling over generously into his latest effort. Every inch of bravado Frank shows in the opening pages of the novel is met with anger and sadness later as he discovers what war truly is. An horrific, unnecessary loss of life. Loyal Creatures has something in it for all ages, another telling story of courage and sacrifice during WWI that we should never forget. As a Morris Gleitzman fan, I can truly say he is on top form with Loyal Creatures. Don’t miss it.