It was a trip down memory lane for author Sam Angus when she visited St Swithun’s Junior School this term. She was a senior school student some time ago. However, the journey in time she created for the girls was greater, as she transported her audience to the beginning of the 20th century at the time of World War I when her novels Soldier Dog and Captain are set.
Both books explore the crucial role played by animals during this conflict and brought to the attention of their readers episodes of the war which were not necessarily familiar. Dog messengers, carrier donkeys and the British ‘camelry’ were the topic of the talk.
Sam also explained how, after graduating in English at Trinity College, Cambridge, she pursued other careers but returned to her first love of books. She told the audience about her love for reading and how this passion combined one day with that for animals and her curiosity to explore a historical episode that had drawn her attention when recounted on the radio by author Jilly Cooper. This was the inspiration for her first novel, Soldier Dog.
Her second book, A Horse Called Hero, is instead set during the Second World War and describes how an episode of war during the time of the Dunkirk evacuation affects the life of two evacuee siblings. Captain, her third novel, returns to the Great War, narrating the friendship between two very young soldiers and the animals that become their trusted companions during the long years of the conflict.
It is always such a fantastic opportunity to have an author sharing her experience with our pupils and our invited guests; Year 6 pupils from Winnall School. Sam was a terrific speaker and her talk has already engendered many discussions with the pupils who attended the session. Years 5 and 6 had already had a chance to speak about her books during our library time and meeting and listening to her has definitely provided further food for thought and inspiration for the children’s writing.