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War historian Glyn Harper's brand new story about a band of tunnellers in the First World War, and the tiny canary who helped them survive, with heart-warming illustrations by Jenny Cooper.

This is the story of Bobby – the littlest hero in a very big war.

Bobby is a tiny canary. His best friend is Jack, a soldier in one of the tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers. Together they go deep into the tunnels under no-man’s-land. Jack’s job is to dig, while Bobby’s job is to warn the men to get out quickly when there’s dangerous gas. Bobby’s warnings save the tunnellers’ lives again and again.

But Jack worries that it’s a hard life for a little bird. Will Bobby ever be free to fly again?

Glyn Harper and Jenny Cooper are the award-winning creators of bestselling picture books about the First World War: Le Quesnoy, Jim's Letters, Roly, the Anzac Donkey and Gladys Goes to War.


This extraordinary tale is beautifully told and illustrated by the experienced and perceptive team of Harper and Cooper. The text is powerfully understated and the illustrations show the humanity and inhumanity of war at the same time. Come ANZAC Day everybody will be reading this story. One to remember. The perfect war story for children.

Bob Docherty, Bob's Book Blog

It is beautifully written with compassion as Jack cares for the canary and plays his harmonica too. There is a subtle but powerful message about freedom woven into the tale and reflections that animals were heroic too. Perfect for schools or for your young reader to help them understand the complex issue of war and memory.

Sue's Reviews, Wairarapa Times-Age

In this charming children's book by historian, professor and former soldier, Glyn Harper, one of the smallest heroes takes centre stage. ... Brought to life in illustrations by Jenny Cooper, Bobby, the littlest war hero tells the story of two birds of a feather who both long to fly free.


Jenny Cooper’s charming illustrations draw readers in to the story. Spread across single and often double pages in the muted colours of war, the images immerse the reader in Bobby’s story.

Waihi Leader

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 26, 2018

    Picture Puffin

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Glyn Harper

Gladys Goes to War
Roly, the Anzac Donkey
Jim's Letters
Le Quesnoy


Turtles All the Way Down
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Ten Little Owls
Anne Of Green Gables
Magnus Chase And The Sword Of Summer (Book 1)
Last Chance
The Sidekicks
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy
Where's Spot?
Holding Up The Universe
Who Sank The Boat?
I Am Sasha
LGB Richard Scarry's The Gingerbread Man
LGB How Do Giraffes Take Naps?
LGB Richard Scarry's Polite Elephant
The Sun is also a Star
Are We There Yet?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
We're All Wonders