Once a shepherd by Glenda Millard : @WalkerBooksAus a very moving story of love & war illus by Phil Lesnie

Posted: January 6, 2015 in Intermediate, Primary School
Tags: , , ,

Once a shepherd
By Glenda Millard
Illustrated by Phil Lesnie

ISBN 9781921720628
Walker Books


I was moved to tears the first time I read this book and the next and the next. It is book which haunts the reader with its powerful story and wonderful illustrations. The story begins with Tom the shepherd out in the field with his sheep. We see his life played out when he falls in love and marries his sweetheart Cherry. We see him go off to war but we don’t see him return. Published in time to commemorate World War 1 this is ideal for all levels. It certainly leaves it wide open for all manner of discussions.

Millard uses words sparingly producing a succinct yet poignant story. As the saying goes, less is more! This is Phil Lesnie’s first picture book but I bet you it won’t be his last. I love the plain weave of the end pages, symbolic of the story and the love between Tom and Cherry.
You can find teacher notes here to help explore this book further. This is a must-have for any schools contemplating a study on World War 1 and the impact of war on ordinary people.

As an aside, two of my favorite books by Glenda Millard are The duck and the darklings where the language is just brilliant and one of the best books to use for teaching creative writing.
The other is The Mbobo tree another hauntingly beautiful picture book, this time in a more traditional story telling format.

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