Thirty-three tributes to heroic working animals and doughty mascots, mostly in wartime.
Though the most colorful yarn here stars Voytek, a bear cub adopted by a brigade of expat Polish soldiers who taught him to smoke, drink, and even carry artillery shells, there’s a distinctly British (and doggy) slant to this large-format companion to the human-centered Survivors (2017). Long sticks mostly to the two world wars, with occasional excursions to ground zero on and after 9/11, the (latest) war in Afghanistan, and a few other bidders. He relates, in no obvious order, exploits of Murphy the donkey, the “four-legged ambulance” of Gallipoli; “Sgt.” Reckless, a packhorse awarded two Purple Hearts in Korea; several rescue dogs in the trenches and the Blitz; homing pigeons who carried timely or lifesaving messages for incredible distances; even a cat who helped the crew of a damaged ship survive a monthslong siege. The author goes for sentiment over gritty detail (Blitz rescue dog Rip’s “little heart eventually gave up”), and if not all of the animals survived their heroics, the narratives at least end on upbeat notes. Hyndman adds painted portraits at the chapter heads and occasional double-page scenes of climactic moments; human figures likely default to white, though they are uncommon and their faces are turned away or left in shadow. There is a table of contents but no index or source list.
Repetitive in bulk, but in digestible doses, rewarding fare for younger browsers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)