A World War 1 story with a difference, this is a true story of a small French boy who’s parents were both killed in the first week of the war. Recounting his journey wandering through Europe cared for by various military groups, he settles with the Australian 4th Flying Squadron, who adopt him as a mascot.During this time a mechanic in the squadron determines to take the boy back home to Jandowae, Queensland, and raise him as his own. The book chronicles the amazing experiences of the boy during the war; being presented to the queen of Romania, being injured in the front lines when nearly the entire company he was with were killed, the lengths the squadron went to, to smuggle the boy back into Australia, and his life when he reached Australia.
As the man appointed his guardian was a God fearing, conservative man, the author has not recounted some of the bawdier incidents that would normally accompany an account of soldiers activities while on leave. He has also avoided the use of graphic or shock value writing with regards some of the atrocities of war.
The book contains copies of photographs taken by soldiers and family and copies of postcards sent home from the war. Apart from one photograph depicting a field of dead Russian soldiers who had been gassed (awful ) there is nothing in this book that would make me reluctant to give it to a child of 10 or 11yrs. It is a very readable book, although it loses a little “flow” by going back and forth from past to present for the first chapter or so. It is a gentle way to give insight into this period of time and the very personal impact that the war had on families, and children in particular. The true story of how one small, French orphan was smuggled home against all odds, is rather remarkable.