|Sergeant Billy : the true story of the goat who went to war|
Author: Messier, Mireille
The true story of a goat named Billy who was adopted by a platoon of soldiers and made his way across the ocean to be part of World War I.
Kirkus Reviews (07/01/19)
School Library Journal (-) (09/01/19)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 08/01/2019 In 1914, Canadian soldiers headed for WWI borrowed Billy, a goat, from a girl in Saskatchewan and promised to bring him back. He trained with his new buddies, who dubbed him Private Billy. Despite the colonel’s orders, they smuggled him aboard their ship bound for France. The goat did well in the trenches, terrorizing the rats while amusing and comforting the soldiers. After he was jailed as a spy for nibbling secret documents, morale sank so low that the colonel released him and promoted him to sergeant. In 1919, the war ended and he returned home to Saskatchewan a decorated war hero. The back matter offers several photos of Billy and his compatriots along with additional information, noting that while some details could not be confirmed, the main story, including the goat’s return to the girl, is true. Written in relatively short sentences, the narrative moves along well, with plenty of interesting twists. Like the best children’s art, the large-scale gouache paintings have unusual directness, emotional clarity, and charm. An appealing historical picture book. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2019 K-Gr 2—During World War I, soldiers traveling by train stop in a small town and see a little girl named Daisy with her goat. They think a goat mascot will bring them good luck and ask to "borrow" Billy. There is little background on the soldiers or Daisy, and it is not until the story's end that readers discover that Billy is Canadian, specifically from Saskatchewan. Billy is smuggled aboard a ship to England and then brought to the trenches of France. It all seems like a light-hearted lark by the soldiers. Some readers may question the focus on a goat at the front and the somewhat trivialized depiction of life in the trenches. When there is no food, Billy eats a sock. Corresponding illustrations show a shell-shocked and bandaged Billy with trench foot but happy. Ultimately, Billy gets a medal for bravery in the face of danger. The illustrations are realistic but are missing any sense of difficulty at the front. We see a happy goat, happy soldiers, and a slightly frowning Colonel who does not think goats belong at the front. Billy survives; after the war ends, the animal travels back to Daisy in Canada. VERDICT Although young readers often enjoy stories about service animals, this unusual story, which is similar in tone and format to Lindsay Mattick's Finding Winnie but without the background details, seems to lack a deeper literary significance. It would be surprising if it caught the attention of young readers.—Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.