Just Imagine

Heroes

Authored by David Long
Illustrated by Kerry Hyndman
Published by Faber & Faber

Heroes is a beautifully illustrated collection of true stories about the actions of animals in wartime. Like its predecessor, Survivors (winner of the Blue Peter Book Award), Heroes is full of nail-biting stories which will have the reader soon immersed in the real-life dramas.

The story of the pointer, Judy, who survived many ordeals during the Second World War in Singapore and Burma, is one of the most memorable. On her return to England, Judy was made an official member of the Returned British Prisoners of War Association, the only dog to ever be honoured in this way.

The illustrations by Kerry Hyndman enhanced the individual chapters by focusing on the animal hero. I liked the way each story had a different coloured font for the raised quotations as well as the border at the foot of many pages. This detail gave the anthology visual coherence and in practical terms made it easier to find the next story.

The author, Davis Long, writes elegantly and packs description and information into his recounts. I have used several of the Survivors stories as models for non-fiction writing with Years 5 and 6. This collection would be another excellent addition to a school library and would be particularly popular with those who love animal stories. It would also be useful as a resource for teachers to dip into depending on their class topic.

I would keep it to hand as I do poetry collections for any spare five minutes in the school day. As each story is three to nine pages, it is the perfect length for a read aloud in class.