Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for The donkey of Gallipoli : a true story of courage in World War I
The donkey of Gallipoli : a true story of courage in World War I
1st U.S. ed.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2008.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations, map ; 29 cm
Jack and Billy grew up in South Shields, England, where a river carried great ships out to sea. During summer vacation, they led donkeys along the beach for a penny a ride. As they paced the sands of their small town, Jack dreamed that one day he would sail away on a great adventure. Jack's wish came true. During World War I, he served as a stretcher bearer on the battlefields of Gallipoli, Turkey. When stretchers ran short, Jack enlisted the help of a donkey named Duffy, and together these unlikely heroes worked tirelessly, carrying wounded soldiers from the battlefront to the beach hospital. This is a true story of one man and his donkey, and the twist of fate that brought two boyhood friends together one last time.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning LG 4.9 0.5.

Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.9 0.5 122696.
Conference Subject:
Added Author:


Call Number
92 Kirkpatrick, John S. 2008

On Order



Two unlikely heroes rescue hundreds of men wounded in war in a poignant picture book based on a true tale of World War I.

When Jack Simpson was a boy in England, he loved leading donkeys along the beach for a penny a ride. So when he enlists as a stretcher bearer in World War I, his gentle way with those animals soon leads him to his calling. Braving bullets and bombs on the battlefields of Gallipoli, Jack brings a donkey to the aid of 300 Allied soldiers -- earning both man and donkey a beloved spot in legend. This engaging nonfiction tale includes a map and brief bios of key characters.
Back matter includes further information.

Author Notes

Mark Greenwood and Frané Lessac are a husband-and-wife team living in Australia. Mark Greenwood is an award-winning children's author. Frané Lessac, the author-illustrator of Island Counting 1 2 3 , has illustrated numerous award-winning books.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-When stretchers become scarce on the battlefield, Jack uses donkeys to transport injured soldiers-including a childhood friend-to safety. Young readers will be pulled in by the man's rapport with donkeys, but neither the writing nor the rustic illustrations shy away from the realities of war. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Often cheerless, this tribute to a WWI foot soldier and the donkey he used to evacuate the wounded doesn't shy away from representing the grimness of war. The husband-and-wife Greenwood (The Legend of Moondyne Joe) and Lessac (Caribbean Alphabet) tell of Englishman Jack Simpson, who, while fighting for Australia, stumbled upon a donkey. Greenwood matter-of-factly relates Simpson's brave deeds: "They made twelve to fifteen trips each day, carrying water to thirsty troops and returning with a soldier straddled over the donkey's back." Spreads showing the bandaged and bloodied are tempered by the naïve styling of the gouache illustrations. Only close examination of the dramatic scene of army boats going ashore under a barrage of Turkish gunfire will reveal the dead body floating in blood-tinged water. This account pays homage to the fallen of Gallipoli and one soldier's unique heroics in particular, though colorful folk art and a furry animal don't make the content any easier to digest. Ages 6-up. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Horn Book Review

Jack Simpson was a soldier who, along with his pet donkey, came to the aid of more than three hundred wounded British soldiers on the bloody battlefields of Gallipoli. Though the events can be difficult to follow, the story is poignantly told. Gouache illustrations offer a strong visual sense of the setting. Bib. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

As a lad in England, Jack Simpson worked at a beachfront donkey ride--an experience that came in handy years later when, as an ANZAC stretcher-bearer, he discovered a donkey cowering in a Turkish gully. With shells exploding all around, he manufactured a lead rope from field dressings and in following weeks gamely walked a regular route, carrying water up to the front lines and hundreds of casualties back down through "Shrapnel Alley." As did more than 300,000 of his fellows, he caught a bullet at last and was buried with particular reverence nearby, in a cemetery aptly called Hell Spit. Lessac downplays pain, blood and violence in her stylized, richly hued gouache paintings, depicting instead battlefields strewn with small bushes and flowers and uniformed human figures, wounded or just weary, carrying themselves with quiet dignity. Little studied in this country but a watershed campaign for the nations that fought it, the bitter battle of Gallipoli stands in for every war in this simply told tale. "Lest we forget..." (historical notes, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 10-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Greenwood's stirring picture book tells the true story of a young British soldier in World War I who saves his childhood friend on the battlefield. Jack and Billy grow up together in northeast England, where they work summers giving visitors donkey rides on the beach. At 17 Jack emigrates to Australia, enlists in the army, and finds himself fighting the Turks at Gallipoli, where he works as a stretcher bearer. When stretchers become scarce, he rescues and calms a frightened donkey, using the gentle beast to carry the wounded until Jack himself is killed. One of the people Jack rescues is half-conscious Billy, who doesn't recognize his childhood friend. In folk-art style, the paintings, in shades that reflect the heat of a sandy landscape, show the heroic soldier and the gentle animal amid the slaughter of war. A tender close-up of Jack whispering to the frightened donkey, Bless you, little fella, is especially nice. Illustrated notes, a map, and a comment from the Turkish general are appended.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2008 Booklist