Flo of the Somme

By Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey

Winner, Young Quills 2016, Younger readers category

1. Abbie: 
I enjoyed this book, because it’s a child friendly and fun book. The best character in the book was Flo because she saved lives. 

I found the event of world war two was a very good book. The book taught me about the that dogs aren’t just for pets they save lives (period of history is world war two). It has made me want to find out more about world war I. I would like to read more books by this author, because the one I read was interesting.

2. Abi: I found this book a bit boring, but I liked how the pictures were drawn. The character I liked best was Flo. My favourite event was at the end.  I liked the colours that were used.  I liked the history in it because my favourite part of history is World War 1.

The book made me want to find out more about that part of history. I would rate it 7/10.

3. Anna:  “These are the dogs that saved lives”.  But there is one dog that stands out in this book and that dog is Flo. Flo is a medical sheep dog and she saves lives by taking medical kits to soldiers that are hurt.

The story happens in La Somme in France in 1914 and finishes in 1918. This is a book that has a map at the start and a map at the end. The map at the start is about La Somme before the war. The map at the end is about after the war. These show that the war changed things a lot and made me want to go and visit to see if it is all back to normal.

The book is full of beautiful pictures which I like because they are full of colours and life. The book was sad but it was happy at the end because people were against each other in the war but they turned out to be nice to each other.

I thought that the book was realistic because I could see what was happening in the background in lots of the pictures, like bombs, broken houses and broken trees, flags, the British and German aeroplanes and scruffy rats.

4. Ben:  The story of World War Two is presented in the form of a poem.  Flo is a dog that saves lives and is a hero of war. He has an owner called Ray, who serves with the Medical Corps.

I found out that they used pigeons to send messages and donkeys to help the injured.  This book can be confusing and hard to keep track, so I think it would be suitable for anyone aged 7-11.

I rate this 4/5 stars.

5. Ciara: This book at first glance to you, on a shelf in a book store, may look as though it is an easy book with pictures for toddlers. But if you take a quick read, even if you just skim through it, you will realise it is a whole lot more than that.

The book is not an actual reading book, it is more like a poem turned into a book. The poem starts with one simple, yet meaningful, line and each two pages have one or two extra lines as well as the lines before. The book is explaining the role of dogs in the Somme in the First World War and how important they were, of course as it was said in the book, "they had no choice". The main character, Flo, who in the book was sent to find pilots that had supposedly been shot down by the Germans, is described as a hero of war and a mercy dog that saved lives. With Flo are a donkey and a soldier who had been given orders to follow Flo through a dangerous battlefield and through dark woods to reach the pilots who needed extreme medical care. Can Flo make it? Or will the pilots be lost forever? They had no choice.

Overall I think this is a very good read with pictures to help you imagine what Flo and other dogs like her would have been through just to even send a message. But although this is a made up story this is what it would have been like. So I can say this book gives you more idea of how tormenting it really was for them. I recommend this to all.

6. Summer:

I enjoyed this book, because it repeated the same words. The best character in the book was the dog. I found the dog clever because he saved lives of the people. The book taught me about (period of history) world war 1.

It has made me want to find out more about the war. I would like to read more books by this author, because the Flo of the Somme was very good.

7. Gabriella: This is about a dog in the war, who found injured soldiers and brought them back to the medical tent with a man called Ray. This book is a good book for children aged 4 and above, they will love it because there is a friendly dog in it and boys would particularly like the topic. I would read this book over and over again. It’s a good book that even grown ups can enjoy.

I am rating this book as 3/5 stars.

8. Katie: I enjoyed this book, because it taught me something in a fun way instead of a boring way. The best character in the book was Flo the hero of war because he saved lives. I found the events that takes place interesting. The book taught me about the (period of history) World War I. It has made me want to find out more about World War I

I would like to read more books by this author, because she made me want to read more.

9. Madeleine: If you saw this book in your school library, then you would probably not think much of it.  “It’s just a picture book for young children”, you might think to yourself. You couldn’t be more wrong.

It is so much deeper than that. It could be read by a six year old, just because it had pictures, but if you look deeper into the text, past the righting and the beautiful water colour paintings, then you can imagen yourself on that battle field, with the mercy dog that saved lives.

If you are an animal lover then I would definitely recommend this book to you as it is mainly about the animals of war, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves history or even are just looking for a book they can really get into and think about.

10. Sarah: Flo of the Somme is a short rhyming story written by Hilary Robinson, which focuses on the importance of the contribution of animals during the First World War. In the story, Flo, a mercy dog, worked determinedly to help the Medical Corps find a wounded soldier who had been shot down in his plane. The story runs through the lives of different characters like Ray (a soldier), a pigeon, a donkey and, of course, Flo.

Almost every page in the book starts with the word ‘this’. I find the usage of this word very effective as it creates a connection with the reader and makes the reader feel involved with the happenings of the story. It also links with the images below the text. These pictures play a key role in the story, for they help the story flow with the words and stay up-beat.

Another thing that does this is the ‘aa, bb, cc’ rhyme scheme. This is used in lines like, “over, clover; sent, tent; wing, bring” and so on. The rhyme scheme mirrors the structure and rhythm of the nursery song ‘This is the House that Jack Built’, for it is an accumulative poem that adds two more lines in each stanza. This, too, is effective because it provides the story with an enjoyable beat.

Hilary Robinson also creates beautiful vivid images when writing lines like “a beacon in the stormy sky” when describing Crucifix Corner. However my favourite line has to be “a field of bullets where once was clover”. This is almost like fitting pieces of a puzzle together, as clover symbolizes good luck, which the soldiers needed and, in fact, received for they ended up winning World War One. It also demonstrates how speedy a transition can be from peace to war.

Despite these highlights, there were a few points in the story that I disagree with. I find that the vocabulary is rather basic and unchallenging, so it seems more suitable for a younger audience. I also think it is quite rose-tinted and historically inaccurate for all of the characters are gleeful and happy, when really they would be glum and miserable. Furthermore, I doubt that everything would be so great that even the rats were practically smiling.

Even though the story did have some weak points, I would recommend it, however this would be to a slightly younger age group, (perhaps ages 4-9) and for a light read. I would also recommend it as a “bedtime reading” story, for it is not a long book that requires much concentration, but a fun, rhyming story that can be read to a playful beat.

11. Sofia and Angel:  Once, a member of the medical corps called Ray looked after a medical dog called Flo, a war dog who saves lives in the First World War. A pigeon that got shot in the wing sent a message to Ray and the medical corps. The dog named Flo had an owner called Ray – the two saved lives in the war. A plane crashed on the battlefield and Flo was sent straight to it with Ray. A donkey came with Flo and Ray to carry the two pilots who crashed on the battlefield. Their plane had come down on fire.

We enjoyed the images and the types of dogs in Flo of the Somme. Our favourite scene was with the donkey walking with Flo and Ray to the battle field to carry the soldiers away.  We thought it was historical because it was about World war 1.

We do like this book and it was fun reading, but we do not want to read any more books like this because we would like to read trickier books.

Star rating 3 ½.

12. Willow. I liked reading about Flo the dog and the people she rescued. She also helped a pigeon and a donkey. She runs fast to rescue them. I really enjoyed reading about how she comes to help them and also when she gives medical kits to the ones in danger. The last bit is lovely as it has a happy ending. There wasn’t anything in the story which I didn’t like. I would like to read this story again and anything else by the same author.

13. Sophie. I enjoyed reading about how Flo saved some people. I particularly liked the first scene because it was very colourful. My favourite place was the fighting field and in the town. I have two favourite characters who are Flo and Ray. This is because I really like dogs. I wasn’t so keen on the part when two pilots thought they were going to die. I’d like to learn a bit more about war time and hope that the authors have written some more books.

14. Jacob. I really like the fact that the dog called Flo, saved so many people. She helped people and if they got hurt she would help them get their medicine. I like the first page because it made me feel happy. I didn’t like the part of the book when people died. I would like to read more books by the same authors.

15. Izzie. I loved reading about Flo the dog because she saved people’s lives. I also liked the first scene because it was lovely and bright and full of birds. In the book I liked the part when Flo helped lots of people and it gave me a tingle down my spine! I wasn’t so keen on the part when the pigeon got shot on the wing. I really want to read another book by the same author.

16. Fearne. I liked the hero dog called Flo. It was great to hear that she helped people when they got hurt. I also liked when she went to help the injured soldiers. It was lovely that the story had a happy start and a happy ending. I also enjoyed the fact that Flo came to help, was kind and took the people to a safe place. It made me feel kind. I didn’t like the story when people crashed in the plane and they gpt injured. They thought that they were going to die.

I might read another book by the same author but not if it was about war as it might scare me.

17. Ben. I liked reading about Flo, the pigeon and the donkey in the forest and how Flo rescued the pilots. I enjoyed the ending of the story as the people were very happy. I was a bit scared when Flo was on the battle field because a bomb might erupt. I would like to read more books by the authors as I enjoyed reading about war time.

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