G.I. Dogs: Judy, Prisoner of War

Written by Laurie Calkhoven
Review by Meg Wiviott

Judy, an English pointer, was born in 1936 in Shanghai. She was adopted by sailors of the British Royal Navy to join their crew on the Gnat, a gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River. She was a loyal companion to the sailors, and her exceptional hearing and senses alerted them to dangers, which grew more common as Japanese soldiers became more aggressive. Judy was serving on the HMS Grasshopper when Britain entered WWII. In early 1942, while attempting to evacuate British and Chinese citizens from Singapore in advance of the invading Japanese, the Grasshopper was sunk. The survivors were soon captured by the Japanese. Judy and the sailors with whom she served spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps. Under extreme conditions, Judy continued to help her sailors keep up their morale by performing tricks taught to her by a special human, Frank Williams. Judy caught rats and lizards to feed herself, occasionally sharing with Frank, who occasionally shared his watery rice with her. After the war, Judy and Frank returned to England and later traveled to the British colonies in Africa for Frank’s work.

Judy’s story is true—she was the first animal to become an official prisoner of war. Calkhoven hints at the horrible conditions of the camps and treatment the soldiers had to endure by telling the story through Judy’s point of view. It is an excellent way to make a difficult subject interesting, understandable, and tolerable for readers ages 7 to 10. This is an excellent choice for young readers—dog lovers or not.