Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review - Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War

Sergeant Billy: The True Story of the Goat Who Went to War
by Mireille Messier
illustrated by Kass Reich
Date: 2019
Publisher: Tundra Books (NY)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A delightful tale inspired by the true story of a brave goat war hero. Perfect for fans of Finding Winnie and Rescue and Jessica.

During World War I, a goat named Billy was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of the war effort.

Billy . . .
* Trained with the soldiers
* Was smuggled across the ocean
* Got snuck into the frontlines in a box of oranges
* Ate some secret documents and was arrested for treason
* Got trench foot
* Head-butted soldiers into a trench and saved them from a shell
* Came back home a decorated war hero

This charming true story follows Sergeant Billy from his small prairie town to the trenches of World War I and back, through harrowing moments, sad moments, moments of camaraderie and moments of celebration. This unforgettable goat and the platoon that loved him will capture your heart!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'd never heard the story of Sergeant Billy before! It makes for quite a cute picture book.

Billy was a goat who was borrowed from a little girl named Daisy to be a mascot for the Fifth Canadian Battalion during World War I. He was smuggled to England, and eventually to France, where he kept morale up and even saved some lives (for which he was awarded the Mons Star). At the end of the war, as promised, he was returned to Daisy by the soldiers and lived out the rest of his life.

This is a nice example of a biographical picture book. The fact that the subject is a goat did little to diminish my enjoyment of the story. The illustrations work nicely with the text, helping to propel the narrative.

There are a couple of pages at the back with notes and photos. Although it's not explicitly spelled out in the text, you can see a picture of the actual Billy on display. The fact that he was stuffed and placed in a museum after death might be disturbing to some readers, so be aware of that.

This is a strong picture book about a little-known animal hero of World War I. Fans of history and animals might want to check this one out.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tundra Books for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.83 out of 5

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