Guy Haydon raised and trained Midnight from the time she was a foal. The two had such a strong bond that when World War I broke out, Lieutenant Haydon slipped away from the frontlines of Gallipoli on an Egypt-bound ship to reunite with his horse. There, in the city of Beersheba, on October 31, 1917, two regiments of the Australian Light Horse Brigade took part in one of the last great cavalry charges in history. Among the first to leap the enemy trenches was Lieutenant Guy Haydon, riding Midnight—who succumbed to a bullet that might have otherwise killed her rider. In a new story from an award-winning duo, luminous illustrations and lyrical narration bring a sad moment in history to life.
Disclosure-- OMG, OMG. My heart is filled with sadness for Midnight. This is a heavy story. But, the author handles it in such a fluid use of words that it carries you over the trauma and delivers you to the end where your heart can sit and cry.
Nugget: An extreme bond between soldier and horse during World War I
Need Enticement: A foal is born at Midnight, on a cattle ranch in Australia. Coal black. Star ablaze. Moonlight in her eyes.
*** Ok, I did look again. Yes, the author is a guy. I stereotyped. I am sorry. The man has me beat hands down. Absolutely beautiful.
Escalation: This is a heavy story of going off to war. Horse and owner separated, then reunited. The war story set amidst enemy fire, lack of resources, and allies dying is handled in all actuality in a very tasteful manner. The author uses short, succinct lyrical sentences to carry the reader from scene to scene but maintain the feeling of urgency.
Satisfying Ending: Night falls. Stretcher-bearers load casualties onto carts. Guy waits his turn. He cries and lets go of Midnight's reins, beloved mare beside him. Coal black. Star ablaze. Moonlight in her eyes.
*** Full circle ending. The horse never loses that sparkle.
Sources: WOW! The sources are totally my kind of sources!!! Author's note, real photos, AND the author visited the family that still lives at Midnight's home and read letters from Guy Haydon. There are several additional resources in the bibliography as well.
Show (also known as sustaining) Words: Children and students will be encouraged to study Australia, Turkish Coast, Gallipoli, Cairo, The Pyramids, and ancient city Beersheba.
Why: It is part of WWI which students study in school, so it fits nicely into the curriculum. It addresses something that many books don't in war; there are casualties even on the good side.
Need & Want: Two character driven- Guy wanted to know that Midnight was safe, he cared about her. Midnight needed to protect Guy; it was her mission. She waited for him to return, she never faltered in battle even jumping a trench with enemies. For any of you who have worked with horses you know, they have an innate sense of trust. They know where the edge of a cliff is, they always strive for sure footing. But, Midnight did not hesitate. If Guy was leading, it was her job to protect.
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