WWI-surviving tortoise gets his own children's book

  • 22/04/2016
WWI-surviving tortoise gets his own children's book

Introducing children to historical events can be challenging. A swag of books have been published telling World War I stories for children.

They often involve animals in the war. We focus on a story based on a real tortoise brought back from Gallipoli.

Shona Riddell is the author of a very cool book, The Tale of the Anzac Tortoise.

She has come to Berhampore School in Wellington to read her story based on a tortoise she grew up with.

"The story is about a soldier who gave a tortoise to the author's great-great-aunt Nora."

Shona's grandmother inherited the family pet, but that tortoise still wanted to travel.

In the Christchurch Press in April 1965, Oliver Riddell, Shona's father, wrote about the great escape: "He was discovered about 15 miles north of Pahiatua crossing the main road to the Mangatinoka brewery," he wrote.

He survived, and little did he know he'd end up in a book for children.

"I remember that in the summer he'd be outside in his wooden pen and eating dandelions and my brother and I would lie on our tummies on the grass and watch him, really," says Ms Riddell.

Her story covers the Gallipoli landings in 1915. The war ground on for four gruelling years -- 100,000 New Zealand men and women served and half died or were wounded, leaving deep scars on the New Zealand psyche.

The imaginative story gives children a touch of war's reality.