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Gunner

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The Story

A black and white puppy starts his day like any other day,

playing at the edge of an airfield.

It is a clear and bright Darwin morning.

A perfect day to explore.

But this is no ordinary day.

It is the most important day of his life.

The day he discovers a special talent.

How will he use this talent to help others?

The inspiration for this story is based on actual events. 

With a backdrop of the bombing of Darwin during World War II,

Gunner is just another stray dog wandering on the Royal Australian Air Force base

looking for scraps of food.

The first wave of bombings leads to a traumatic event in the young dog’s life,

and he is rescued by personnel from No. 2 Squadron.

Gunner later discovers a unique talent that helps save many lives,

making him an invaluable asset to the R.A.A.F.

Dedicated to the men and women who served in Darwin during World War II,

Gunner was written to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.

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Reviews

Gunner, based on a true story, is a picture book recommended for children/students ages 10+, although because of the story’s engaging approach, it could also be of interest to older age groups.

This powerful and appealing narrative opens with a day in the life of an innocent and carefree puppy playing in a field near Darwin on 19th February,1942. 

Abruptly, he finds himself propelled into a nightmare which continues until 12th November 1943.

Gunner is a perfect vehicle for children to learn how close World War II was to Australia, a fact hidden from the Australian public for many years.

Illustrator Susan Boyle perfectly captures the little dog’s mischievous and intelligent spirit, his fear and bravery. Her illustrations throughout the book complement Kathryn’s storyline for the reader.

Gunner is a little dog soldier with a big heart and a great gift who saved many lives.

The relationship with his fellow soldiers is touching, particularly with one soldier who discovered him that first fateful day before Gunner became an official member of the RAAF.

Kathryn Berryman skilfully weaves the elements of hardship and loss, combined with the friendship, loyalty, duty, and humour of the soldiers.

The qualities inherent in this group of men thrown together through appalling circumstances gave Gunner a home, a sense of belonging, as well as an opportunity to show what a very special dog he was.

 Deborah McMahon

6 November 2022