Cover image for Bunny the brave war horse : based on a true story
Bunny the brave war horse : based on a true story
MacLeod, Elizabeth, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Kids Can Press, [2014]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations, color map ; 24 cm
"With a name like Bunny, the long-eared horse doesn't seem like an obvious choice to ship off to war. But through burning gas attacks, miserable weather and ever-present cross fire, Bunny proves himself invaluable, especially to the men who ride him. This is a heartwarming story of a World War I war horse who was as brave and strong as any soldier. Important historical context is provided in the end matter, and all historical details have been vetted for accuracy by expert reviewers"--Provided by publisher.
Reading Level:
Elementary Grade.

500 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
J PIC BOOK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Award-winning nonfiction author Elizabeth MacLeod brings a slice of World War I history to life in this poignant picture book. It is based on the true story of a police horse named Bunny and his riders, brothers Bud and Thomas Dundas, sent to the European front as part of the 9th Battery Canadian Field Artillery. This quietly but powerfully told tale explores many of the actual on-the-ground hardships WWI soldiers endured, including a gas attack, wounded and killed comrades, exploding bombs and episodes of severe hunger. By focusing on the tender relationship between Bunny and the brothers and showing how he was able to provide comfort to the soldiers, the author makes the grim details easier for young readers to absorb. The somber palette employed by illustrator Marie Lafrance in her rich, distinctive and detailed artwork --- all on two-page spreads --- provides the appropriate level of seriousness.

As a bonus, the author has provided a brief historical recap at the end that provides more background information about the real-life Bunny, Tom and Bud, with dates and specifics about WWI, which would be useful for creating a global studies teaching plan. The geography of the region is enhanced with a color map. This powerful book would make an excellent resource for any social studies unit about WWI, while it also works as a personalized reminder of the toll that war takes on humanity. Early readers interested in history or horses would enjoy it on their own.

Author Notes

Elizabeth MacLeod has written many children's books, including nine titles in the Snapshots Biography series, numerous titles in the Kids Can Read, Kids Books Of and Kids Can Do It series, Why Do Horses Have Manes?, What Did Dinosaurs Eat?, and Monster Fliers. She lives in Toronto.

Marie Lafrance lives in Montreal, Quebec. She has provided illustrations for magazines, newspapers, posters, billboards and dozens of educational books for children. Now she primarily works on picture books, using her warm and gently humorous illustrations to delight and entertain children of all ages.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1914, Toronto's mounted police selected four officers and 18 horses including Bunny to send to the Allied forces in Europe. There the horses delivered messages, ferried wounded soldiers, and pulled supply carts, all while dodging bombs, bullets, and poisonous gas. As the conflict dragged on, both soldiers and horses suffered from cold and hunger, and at war's end, Bunny the lone surviving steed lived out his final days on a farm in Belgium. Published on the centenary of WWI, MacLeod's lightly fictionalized narrative communicates the harsh realities of war without dwelling on blood and gore. Lafrance's full-color illustrations emphasize the human and equine costs of the conflict. Her spreads depict riding into a cloud of mustard gas, exploding bombs, and pelting winter rain. Concluded with background notes about the war and the use of horses in combat, this will be a welcome addition to primary-grade history units. Pair with Robert Burleigh's Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! (2008), which documents the use of passenger pigeons in WWI.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2014 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-During World War I, Toronto's mounted police force sent horses and men to fight in Europe. This fictionalized true story focuses on one of those horses, Bunny, a particularly brave and skilled mount known for his stamina and courage. The text starts off at a good pace but comes to a halt on the fifth double-page spread, when a riveting moment about Bunny and his rider facing mustard gas is followed by a generic summary of Bunny's wartime duties. The book describes other difficult aspects of Bunny's war experience, such as near starvation (for instance, one of the horses in Bunny's paddock ate a blanket for sustenance). However, as the book is targeted to young readers, the illustrations are not graphic, and their style, color scheme, and composition convey the narrative well. Back matter includes more facts about Bunny and the men who were assigned to him. While this is a poignant story, the length and subject matter may make it a challenging sell for readers; careful placement and readers advisory efforts are a must.-Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.