A wartime journey
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Based on the most famous animal in Australian history Simpson's Donkey tells the story of his service during the Gallipoli campaign where for three weeks he was one of several donkeys that Simpson used to carry wounded men down to Anzac Cove. His life before and after Gallipoli is a mystery but Peter Stanley beautifully imagines the rest for the reader. Stanley tells the donkey's story—in the donkey's own voice—taking the reader on a journey from the Aegean island of Lemnos to Gallipoli to Egypt, Palestine and then back to Gallipoli at the end of the Great War. In doing so Simpson's Donkey not only brings the donkey's story to life it also brings the horrible realities of war to the fore. The war is the backdrop to the donkey's tale and as we follow the little donkey on his journey we also learn about the war and its terrible impact on people and animals alike. The story begins with the donkey being separated from his adored mistress Sofya when the Greeks occupy Lemnos in 1913, and after various adventures—in which each new owner calls him by a new name—he returns to Gallipoli in 1919 to be reunited with his beloved Sofya.
From village beast of burden to hospital pet, to supply carrier for the war in the desert, the donkey's story is an adventurous journey on which he meets courage and cruelty, and comradeship between human and donkey alike.
- Allen & Unwin, March 2011
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