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T.C.A. Achintya

HOW CAN A PIGEON BE A WAR HERO; QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE FIRST WORLD WAR; POEMS FROM THE FIRST WORLD WAR
By Tracy Turner ; Gaby Morgan
Macmillan Publishers, Delhi, 2014 & 2013, pp. 128 & 190, Rs. 299.00 each

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 11 November 2014

How can a Pigeon be a War Hero manages to present what is otherwise a grim and complex historical period in a light and amusing manner. The book has a multitude of pictures and diagrams and charts which make the book less about reading and more a video presentation for young children. It manages masterfully to weave together facts, people, trends and ideas about the war with a vibrant pictorial presentation. It doesn’t cheapen the memory of the horrific event that was World War I.  but draws you in with a question that is truly one of the most memorable and touching stories of World War I. The book does take a while before it answers the question on the cover and tells the story of the lost battalion and Cher Ami, the messenger pigeon that delivered its message despite being heavily wounded and saved hundreds of men.  One of the drawbacks of the book however is a predominantly British-centric perspective on the War. While facts and details do cover others such as the Russians, French and colonial nations like India in places, the thrust is primarily from an English point of view. Many of the facts and stories, while part of the local heritage of British children, will seem odd and perhaps disconnected for Indian children. That said, the book however is extremely informative, as well as balanced and is a good way to introduce a young child interested in history to a topic which would otherwise be extremely grim. Covering stories of the Red Baron and the first fliers to the bombing of cities and the horrors of trench warfare and mustard gas, How can a Pigeon be a War Hero weaves a narrative that should be both compelling and instructive for a young child. Even an older individual might find the text a useful introduction to a period of history that is otherwise extremely complex, and has been covered in heavy tomes and serious literature. The accuracy of the book should make it a far better entertaining yet informative manual than any action movie or fictional story of the period. Warning: Poems from the Forst World War is not a light read. A vast majority of the poems contained within the book bring forth narratives of pain and loss and suffering. The book contains a collection of hauntingly beautiful poems written by different people about the ...


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