Scholastic New Zealand have developed a series of books called ‘Kiwis At War’ to commemorate the First World War. This is the first in the series and presents the story of Billy, an underage teenage soldier, and the journey he makes with his beloved horse, Tui, to the other side of the world. As part of the mounted rifles regiment, Billy and his best friend Jack are excited to be embarking on this adventure.
Of course, what they encounter is far worse and more challenging than anything they could have imagined. Abandoning their horses in Egypt, the boys head into the Gallipoli war zone with hundreds of other New Zealand and Australian young men.
The ANZAC story will appeal to many, and it’s a great way to teach the history of this time to young New Zealand and Australian readers. But this book is also a story of friendship, fear, survival, and loss. It’s a compelling and emotional story set in a period of history that has touched many lives. I particularly liked the focus on the relationship between the boys and their horses. All too often, when we think of war we forget about the wider picture: the hundreds of horses that perished; the families at home waiting to hear of news of their loved ones; and the smells and sounds of war.
This is a great story and many young kiwis will enjoy reading it.
Reviewed by Gillian Torckler
1914: Riding into War
by Susan Brocker
Published by Scholastic NZ