Living in Edinburgh, I am familiar with statue of Wojtek in Princes Street Gardens but didn’t know a lot about the real story. I was really pleased to get the chance to read Jenny Robertson’s novel for children telling his story. As you can see it has a beautiful cover and it’s also charmingly illustrated throughout by Tim Archbold.
Children will enjoy following the antics of the bear cub Wojtek ‘adopted’ by Polish soldier Piotr in this entertaining book, especially when he gets into all kinds of bother in the quartermaster store, is frightened by a donkey and has a vodka too many. It’s a good introduction to what life was like for Polish soldiers in the Second World War, and doesn’t shy away from talking about the realities of war but in an appropriate way for children. The book brings a human face to war looking at Piotr’s family before he joined the army, when they were taken by the Red Army to Russia. Their difficult and dangerous journey ending in up in a prison camp was vividly described.
Wojtek the bear is literally a larger than life character who children will adore. It was fascinating to read about how he actually became a help to the army rather than just a mascot. It was also interesting to read about what happened after the war when he came to Britain and spent his final days in Edinburgh Zoo. Wojtek, War Hero Bear is a book sure to be enjoyed by young readers.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to be part of the tour and to the publishers Birlinn for my copy of the book. Wojtek is available now in papreback and as an e-book. You can order a copy online here: Wojtek
From the back of the book
When a tiny orphaned bear cub is adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, little does anyone know that little Wojtek will become one of the bravest fighters of them all. As the soldiers train to take part in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, Wojtek grows up, providing headaches and laughter in equal measure as he learns to drink beer, chase horses and wrestle with his human friends. But at Monte Cassino, as the Allies try and dislodge German troops from their mountain-top eyrie, Wojtek, now a fully signed-up solider with his own rank and number, comes into his own, dodging the bullets to carry ammunition to his comrades as they inch their way to victory. After the war, the Polish solders move to Scotland. Wojtek comes too and soon becomes the centre of attention in a new country. But with hostilities ended, how long can he keep his freedom? Best-selling children’s author Jenny Robertson explores the themes of friendship and trust in this moving and inspirational story.
Jenny Robertson has written numerous books for children and adults – fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her children’s novels and Bible stories have been widely translated and also read on Yorkshire Television and STV.
Catch up with the rest of the tour