Judy, an English pointer, is dedicated to helping humans on her ship. She has an uncanny ability to tell when danger is near. Her ability to warn the men of trouble makes her the perfect dog to be a part of His Majesty’s Royal Navy. She serves along with her human companions during World War II.
When the enemy sinks Judy’s ship, she and her fellow soldiers become prisoners of war. The conditions are harsh. The men lack food, so Judy hunts rats and lizards to share with the humans. Often the men’s morale is low, so Judy does what she can to lift their spirits. As the Japanese begin to lose the war, the POWs are given less food and more beatings. Can Judy figure out a way to keep her human companions and herself alive?
Told from Judy’s point of view, Prisoner of War gives a unique perspective of World War II. The story is based on a true story and covers the time period between 1936 through 1946. Because the story takes place over a long period, readers may have a difficult time keeping track of all of the events and the different humans that Judy meets. Although Judy’s point of view is interesting, the story often reads like a history book.
Judy eventually finds a human best friend, Frank, and is completely dedicated to him. However, readers will not get a clear picture of Frank’s personality. Although it is clear that Frank goes out of his way to make sure that Judy is able to stay with him, the story doesn’t portray the deep feelings that the two have for each other.
Prisoner of War takes the events of World War II and makes them more kid-friendly; however, the events of World War II may upset younger readers. Even though the war’s brutality isn’t described in detail, people are mistreated and people die. Through Judy’s eyes, readers will see that the war was full of destruction, but there was kindness as well.
Anyone who enjoys history should read Prisoner of War because the story is based on a true story. Historical information and pictures of Judy appear at the end of the book. Even though the story is not fast-paced, Judy’s story is interesting and will ignite readers’ interest in learning more about the events that happened during World War II. If you prefer action-packed stories, Survival Tails: World War II by Katrina Charman would be a good choice; similar to Prisoner of War, Survival Tails: World War II is a World War II story that is told from an animal’s point of view.
- Judy met a dog named Paul. “Paul took one look at me and fell in love. . . But I played hard to get. He spent a lot of time showing off to get my attention whenever I was on deck or on the riverboat. . .” The humans have a wedding ceremony for the two dogs. “Paul and I had a three-day honeymoon on the Gnat . . .” Judy finds out that she’s going to have puppies.
- While Judy was a prisoner, she went into the jungle to hunt. “On one of my nighttime treks into the jungle, I met a nice dog and we spent some time together. And boy was Frank surprised when he discovered I was going to have more puppies!”
- Judy tried to stay away from the Japanese soldiers because they would kick her. Judy watched as Japanese soldiers attack Mr. Soo, a storekeeper. “And tonight there was a whole group of them yelling and throwing things around Mr. Soo’s shop. Mr. Soo tried to get them to stop. When he did, they started to hit him. He was already on the floor, bleeding, when I ran through the back door to the shop. . . One gave me a kick and another threw something at my head. Then a third one grabbed me by the neck and carried me outside.” Eventually, the soldiers leave and neighbors help Mr. Soo.
- Pirates try to attack a ship called the Gnat. The pirates try to catch the ship with a rope. “The minute that rope hit our prow, the Gnat’s machine guns opened fire. Even so, the shadowy figures rose and tried to board our ship, only to be met with more gunfire.” The Gnat is able to get away.
- The Japanese bomb Chinese cities. “One million Japanese soldiers, backed by Japan’s navy and air force, were on the outskirts of the city. Planes dropped bombs on the Chinese, and they were forced to abandon Shanghai.”
- The Panay was sent to help civilian Americans leave China. “Suddenly, bombs started falling all around them. Three oil-carrying ships were hit and set fire. And the Panay . . . sank to the bottom of the river. Most of the people on board made it to safety on the lifeboats, but the Panay would never sail again.” During the attack, the Ladybird “had been hit repeatedly. Some of my friends were killed. Many more were injured.”
- A Japanese sentry sees Judy, and “he screamed and raised his foot to give me a kick, but I danced out of his way. Then I rose up on my hind legs and growled at him. . . He grabbed his rifle and leveled it at my head.” One of Judy’s human friends helps by throwing the Japanese sentry into the river.
- Japanese planes search for battleships. Two battleships are spotted by a Japanese submarine. “Bombs soon rained down on them from the skies while torpedoes hit them from under the sea. In just two hours, England lost any ability to stop the Japanese in the Pacific.”
- When some British soldiers need to be rescued, a unit goes into the jungle to look for them. One man was “shot in the leg.” The man is taken to the hospital.
- A Japanese seaplane “dropped a bomb over the Grasshopper, but luckily, it missed. The children hid their heads and screamed, and I watched as the seaplane turned to head for the Dragonfly. It dropped a bomb close enough to cause damage.” Later more planes arrive and, “Boom! The bomb hit the part of the ship where most of the women and children were staying. I had been with them just seconds before.” The survivors abandon the ship and swim to shore.
- Later someone tells how “the Dragonfly had taken a direct bomb hit, and then two more. Explosions ripped the boat apart while sailors desperately tried to launch a lifeboat and rubber life rafts. . . the water was filled with men, clinging to rafts or bits of wreckage. The planes returned to shoot at them with machine guns. Bullets ripped across the surface of the water while men dove below to try to stay alive.”
- A crocodile snaps at Judy. “Ouch! I danced back just in time to escape its giant jaws, but it managed to slash my shoulder with its claws before it escaped into the river.”
- Some of the prisoners steal rice. When the Japanese search the barracks, the prisoners are worried that the Japanese will discover the rice. Judy comes to the rescue. She goes to a graveyard and digs up a skull, “and then I race back to the barracks. You should have seen the kickers’ [soldiers’] faces when I ran in with a human skull between my teeth! They screamed and yelled while I made three loops around the room.”
- While a prisoner, Judy had to “hunt at night, and I brought Frank everything I caught and killed so we could share.”
- The POWs were crammed into a ship. While they were sailing, torpedoes hit. “First one explosion and then another. Smoke and steam filled the cargo hold. Saltwater poured through the ship’s hull. . . POWs who tried to climb on lifeboats were kicked away with boots or rifle butts.” The men were later rescued.
- While working as a POW, the men were beaten. “The guards shouted orders no one could understand and then beat the men for not understanding. Sometimes they beat the men just because they were bored and wanted something to do.”
- A guard tries to shoot Judy. She “saw a flash and dodged out of the way just in time before dashing back into the jungle.” Judy stayed hidden until it was safe to come out.
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