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About the book
  • Published: 25 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780143506638
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

Roly, the Anzac Donkey


Formats & editions


Glyn Harper's Roly, the Anzac Donkey follows Richard Henderson and his donkey Roly, who together saved many WW1 soldiers. Illustrated by Jenny Cooper, it marks the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli.

Glyn Harper's Roly, the Anzac Donkey follows Richard Henderson and his donkey Roly, who together saved many WW1 soldiers. Illustrated by Jenny Cooper, it marks the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli.


Hello. My name is Roly. I'm a donkey.
Let me tell you about the time during the First World War when I worked at a place called Gallipoli. I met a man there from New Zealand who was very special. He and I worked as a team to help rescue soldiers who had been hurt in battle.

Based on real people and events, this is the heartwarming story of Richard Alexander Henderson, a soldier in the New Zealand Medical Corps, and the donkey he discovers wandering and hungry on a Gallipoli road. Richard and Roly form a strong friendship and, working together, they courageously save the lives of many wounded soldiers.

But now the army has received top-secret orders to leave Gallipoli – and quickly. All the donkeys must be left behind. Richard is heartbroken. What will become of his dear friend Roly?

Glyn Harper and Jenny Cooper are the author and illustrator of the hugely successful picture books Le Quesnoy and Jim's Letters. Roly the Anzac Donkey is a moving retelling of Glyn Harper's 2004 story The Donkey Man, reinvigorated for a new generation of children with Jenny Cooper's beautiful illustrations, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli invasion.

2016 STORYLINES NOTABLE PICTURE BOOK
'Glyn does not try to romanticise Rory's work in Gallipoli . . . It's important children grow up realising war is not one big adventure and shooting guns is fun. But juxtaposed with this realistic story are the warm illustrations that show the love between animal and human. If you've owned a dog you'd recognise the look that Rory shows for Richard - it's utter adoration, and Jenny Cooper has captured it so expertly. . . Roly and Richard's heart warming tale, Glyn's excellent storytelling abilities, and Jenny's stunning illustrations make this a winner for children (and adults).' Kids Books NZ

  • Pub date: 25 March 2015
  • ISBN: 9780143506638
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

Glyn Harper

Glyn Harper is Professor of War Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He is Massey's Project Manager of the Centenary History of New Zealand and the First World War. A former teacher, he joined the Australian Army in 1988 and after eight years transferred to the New Zealand Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Glyn was the army's official historian for the deployment to East Timor and is the author of numerous history books, including Kippenberger: An Inspired New Zealand Commander; In the Face of the Enemy: The complete history of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand; Dark Journey: Three Key Battles of the Western Front; Images of War: World War One: A Photographic Record of New Zealanders at War 1914–1918 and his most recent Letters from Gallipoli: New Zealand Soldiers Write Home. He has written a number of children's books, of which Le Quesnoy, Jim's Letters and Roly, the Anzac Donkey are the most recently published. In 2015 Glyn and illustrator Jenny Cooper won the Best Picture Book Award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, as well as a Storylines Notable Picture Book Award, for Jim's Letters, a moving story about a correspondence between two brothers during the First World War.
Speaking about writing stories for children in an interview with the Manawatu Standard in 2018, Glyn said, ‘‘I think history is immensely important. Having a sense of the past and what has created the nation as it is today is very important for young people. If
stories can do that, I think they are serving
a good purpose.’’

Jenny Cooper

Jenny Cooper is an award-winning and prolific illustrator of more than 70 children’s books, and says she finds each new title “completely different and a new adventure”. Noted for being an exceptionally versatile, characterful and exuberant illustrator, the judges of the 2015 LIANZA Children and Young Adult Book Awards praised Jenny for the “multitude of talents in her basket of goodies . . . she is able to draw a variety of animals convincingly well; her command of emotional drawing is also superb. The depth of feeling in the faces of her characters brings tears to the reader’s eyes. She is surely envied by other illustrators.” Jenny’s recent work includes a series of critically acclaimed First World War picture books with text by Glyn Harper – Roly, the Anzac Donkey, Jim’s Letters and Le Quesnoy: The Story of the Town New Zealand Saved – and the beautiful A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children edited by Paula Green. In 2015 Jenny was honoured as one of New Zealand’s foremost illustrators with the presentation of The Arts Foundation Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award. The award’s patron Ann Mallinson declared her the “perfect recipient”, saying that “Whether a pencil sketch or a realistic, photographic based style, Jenny’s illustrations jump out of the page with an invigorating spirit . . . Jenny is a greatly admired and very experienced artist who has illustrated a large number of picture books. Her work is always of the highest standard. She can tackle any subject, and if it requires more than her wonderful imagination, she will do thorough research.” In August 2015 Jim’s Letters, Jenny's and author Glyn Harper’s memorable depiction of a World War One correspondence between two brothers, one a soldier in Gallipoli and the other at home on their Central Otago farm, won the Picture Book category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Jenny has also won a number of Storylines Notable Book Awards — for A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children edited by Paula Green (2015); Jim’s Letters with Glyn Harper (2015); Ria the Reckless Wrybill with Jane Buxton (2011); A. W. Reed’s classic Illustrated Myths and Legends of the Pacific (2008); The Mad Tadpole Adventure with Melanie Drewery (2008); Duck Walk with Joy Cowley (2003); The Great Pavlova Cover-up edited by Jo Noble (2002); and The Wooden Fish with Tim Tipene (2000). Jenny lives in Amberley, near Christchurch.


Praise for Roly, the Anzac Donkey

“An inspiring read for children with themes of friendship and courage”

Good Magazine

“Roly the Anzac Donkey is a great introduction for young minds to the Anzacs.”

NZ Doctor

“I am quite sure that Glyn Harper doesn't sleep. The Professor of War Studies at Massey University has published book after book about the world wars including his latest, Roly, the Anzac Donkey (Penguin Random House, $19.99). Illustrated by Jenny Cooper (who also collaborated with Glyn on last year's children's book Jim's Letters), the book is based on true events and tells the story of how the title character, abused by his driver, was adopted by a soldier with the New Zealand Field Ambulance. Together the team rescued wounded soldiers at Gallipoli. This picture book tells an important story that young readers can understand and relate to. I think Glyn does a great job writing for audiences of all ages.”

Bette Flagler, NZ Heritage

“Glyn does not try to romanticise Rory's work in Gallipoli . . . It's important children grow up realising war is not one big adventure and shooting guns is fun. But juxtaposed with this realistic story are the warm illustrations that show the love between animal and human. If you've owned a dog you'd recognise the look that Rory shows for Richard - it's utter adoration, and Jenny Cooper has captured it so expertly . . . Roly and Richard's heart warming tale, Glyn's excellent storytelling abilities, and Jenny's stunning illustrations make this a winner for children (and adults).”

Maria Gill, Kids Books NZ


Awards & Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Book Award

    Notable Book • 2016 • Picture Book


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