by Sam Angus
Feiwel & Friends, 2013. 249 pgs. Historical Fiction.
Stanley's mother has died and his father is so grief-stricken he takes his hurt out on Stanley, driving him away from home and into the British army of World War I. Stanley lies about his age and signs up in hopes of being sent to France where his brother Tom is fighting. Instead he is assigned to the Dog Messenger Service, training animals to carry messages to and from the front lines. He doesn't expect to be called up with only one dog, but battles are waxing so hot and so many dogs have been lost that he and Bones soon find themselves in a very hot spot indeed. Stanley's story is tender, powerful, and grim. The horrors of World War I trench warfare are deftly painted, right on the edge of what a young person might be able to bear, but are softened somewhat by things turning out better for Stanley and his family than one might realistically expect could have happened. Ms. Angus's prose is vivid and engaging. No one thinking war is glorious should come out the other end of this book feeling the same way: mustard gas, the painful deaths of valiant men and animals, the mud, and the noise, and the fear make this a good book for young people (grades 6 and up) who are interested in what war is actually like.