Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I
Written by Alison Hart
Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
In this exciting story, written from the dog’s point of view, the fourth grade reader will learn about the life of a canine working at the war’s front line.
Darling lives the good life in England with his human family until World War I interferes. She is an escape artist who spends time digging under fences and worrying the local sheep along with her stray rat terrier friend, Rags. After the man of the house goes to war, the mother is about to send her away as too much trouble and too expensive. The government appeals for dogs to help in the war effort, so she is recruited as a messenger dog. Darling is nearly destroyed when the army discovers she’s not suited to be a messenger. Luckily, her sergeant believes in her and gets her a job as a mercy dog, a job to which she is well-suited. Mercy dogs, sometimes called Red Cross dogs, were sent into the no man’s land of a battlefield to locate wounded soldiers. When she is severely wounded, Darling once again needs a reprieve, as all useless animals were destroyed. And, once again, her sergeant comes to her rescue and gets her declared a war hero. Will she see her family again?
This tale of redemption and loyalty contains a lot of information about how animals are used in war and what the rigors of war are like for soldiers. The reader will also learn a little about World War I and the Belgian campaign. Part of the “Dog Chronicles” series, this volume combines history and love of animals in a unique way. It will hold kids’ attention and increase their reading comprehension. The content is well-researched and contains a table of contents, further facts, map, bibliography, for further reading section, and websites. The author’s website (http://www.alisonhartbooks.com/) and the illustrator’s (http://www.michaelgmontgomery.com/) provide more information about the creative team.