A Remarkable WWII Novel for readers aged 9-12
When a tiny orphaned bear cub is adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II, little does anyone guess that young Wojtek will become a war hero? As the soldiers train to take part in some of the fiercest fightings of the war, Wojtek grows bigger and stronger, providing headaches and laughter in equal measure. But at the famous Battle of Monte Cassino, Wojtek, now a fully signed-up soldier, dodges bullets and landmines and uses his great strength to carry heavy boxes of ammunition to his comrades as they inch their way to victory.
After the war, the Polish soldiers move to Scotland. Wojtek comes too and soon becomes the centre of attention in his new home in the Borders. But with hostilities ended, how long can he keep his freedom?
I am delighted to be a part of the Wojtek War Hero Bear Blog Tour and would like to thank Kelly at LoveBooksGroup and Birlinn Books for the opportunity.
What a charming book and wonderful story. The story of Wojtek is amazing and, whilst it has humour, Jenny Robertson writes a moving story of the formation of the Polish ‘Anders’ Army in 1942 from those who had been taken by the Russians and put into the Gulags, in particular, the 22nd Artillery Supply Company. It is also the remarkable story of Wojtek who they meet and buy en route to Tehran and who travelled with them through Syria then Egypt and ultimately to Italy. As you travel with them you will laugh at the outrageous things Wojtek gets up to, you will shed a tear at the awful things that happen, you will see how important it is to care for others and how uplifting it is to have the occasional distraction from the difficulties of life and the horror of war. Wojtek, which means ‘Happy Warrior’, is officially enlisted and, having formed such a bond with his comrades, performs amazing feats at the Battle of Monte Cassino. This fictional version of the true story has been deftly and lovingly written.
To read about this remarkable bear’s adventures through the war and to find out what happens to Wojtek, and his comrades, once the war is ended I would strongly recommend Wojtek War Hero Bear to any 9-12 year old, their parent(s), guardian(s) and relatives as a terrific read. Indeed I’m sure the adults will enjoy reading this book too.
The sketched illustrations by Tim Archbold are delightful and bring to life a number of scenes throughout the book.
This is just the sort of book that would be a terrific tool in schools, children’s book clubs, library discussions and other groups (Scouts, Guides?) to open up discussion on WWII history, Polish history and enable children to explore what trust, caring and friendship can and should be.
Indeed it is a wonderful book that is readily available and many a child would treasure as a gift.
Would you like to hear more about Wojtek? Then do follow the #LoveBooksGroupTour…
The Blog Tour
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd (2014)
Format: Paperback (also available as an eBook)
Author: Jenny Robertson
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.
A statue of Wojtek was unveiled in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh November 2015
Illustrator: Tim Archbold
Tim Archbold has illustrated over fifty books for children, often in his favourite pen and ink style. He was born in Northumberland and studied at Newcastle and Exeter Colleges of Art and Design. He now lives in Kelso in the Scottish Borders with his wife and two children.