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The Tortoise and the Soldier: A Story of Courage and Friendship in World War I
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The Tortoise and the Soldier: A Story of Courage and Friendship in World War I

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  29 reviews
As a boy, Henry Friston dreamed of traveling the world. He thought he was signing up for a lifetime of adventure when he joined the Royal Navy. But when World War I begins, it launches the world, and Henry, into turmoil. While facing enemy fire at Gallipoli, Henry discovers the strength he needs to survive in an unexpected source: a tortoise. And so begins the friendship o ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published November 24th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published July 7th 2015)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  104 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A young soldier finds a tortoise in the midst of war. He feels that the tortoise saves him and so he then rescues the tortoise, sneaks it on board his ship and cares for it throughout the war and after.

Alex (not a dude) Baugh
It's the early 1950s and office boy Trevor Roberts just wants to be a full-fledged reporter for his hometown paper, the Lowestoft Journal, but so far, he only get reporting jobs once in a blue moon, and usually not very interesting. One March morning, Trevor is sent out to see if Mr. Friston's tortoise has woken up from his winter hibernation. Little did Trevor know that that would be the beginning of a long friendship and a wonderful article for the newspaper.

Slowly, over a series of weekends,
Adam Nicholson
Michael Foreman tells the story of Henry Friston, a young WWI soldier fighting for Britain through a reporter's interview. The book is based on true events and accounts of Friston's experiences in the British Royal Navy. Similar to many war veterans, Friston has artifacts and treasures from his experience fighting in Turkey that he holds dear, but one of them is a tortoise named Ali Pasha. The book uses lots of language from the time period and goes back and forth between the war via Friston's d ...more
Edward Sullivan
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Young Henry Friston, a gunner on a Royal Navy battleship adopts a tortoise he finds on a battlefield during the Gallipoli campaign and takes it back to England where they remain lifelong companions. Based on a true story, this is history with a light touch. A nicely illustrated, simple but engaging story for middle grade readers.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Tortoise and the Soldier almost reads like nonfiction, except it seems clear from the beginning that the boy telling the story may be an invention of the story. Foreman explains at the end the circumstances that really led him to Henry and Ali Pasha (the tortoise). The inclusion of photographs from the real story is great. As a story about an individual's experiences during World War I, Foreman does a great job. It was interesting the way he combined that story with the story about the boy w ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww1-ww2
This is the story of real-life Henry Friston who longed for adventure and found it in 1914 when he fought in World War I. During a battle, he befriended a tortoise who he named Ali Pasha. They became friends and even after surviving the war together, they stayed friends until death. On the inside front and back covers are photographs of the real Friston and Ali Pasha. There are also some newspaper snippets about the famous tortoise towards the end of the book. Throughout, there are illustrations ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally published in England, The Tortoise and the Soldier is about a young WWI soldier fighting for Britain. The book is based on true events and accounts his experiences in the British Navy. Henry Friston has treasures from his experience fighting in Turkey that he holds dear, but one of them is a tortoise named Ali Pasha. The book uses lots of language from the time period and goes back and forth between the war the present time period in which an interview is being done about Friston. Whi ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An interesting story of one man's experience in World War I. Not all blood and gore, but the experiences of a young man away from home for the first time. It told of his special "friend", a tortoise, that he felt saved his life while he was hiding in a trench that he had been blown into from enemy fire. The next day he goes back to the trench and saves the tortoise's life then smuggles him onto his ship. He becomes a good luck mascot for the men while they travel to different battles.
Gail Baugniet
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel is formatted as a children's book, containing illustrations interspersed with text throughout. But the storyline is about war and life lessons aimed at adult readers. The tortoise does fulfill a satisfying role throughout.

Four stars for the "based on a true story" aspect.
We really enjoyed this book as a family read-aloud! I did some editing on the fly as there were about three instances of mild unsavory language which I preferred to omit.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, read-to-jaylen
Interesting historical story not many will know, but presented in an unexciting way. Didn't appeal to my 11 year old at all.
Lisa Tobleman
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Tortoise and the Soldier by Michael Foreman
Age range:7-12
Hardcover, 128 pages
Henry Holt and Co, November 24, 2015

Saw this pop up in my McMillan new book feed and bought it immediately.
This one is going in our school library And my home library. (I am delivering two books to our library today so great day!)
First, full disclosure, I have a tortoise obsessed son who Loves military history so I took a chance based on the description that this would be something he would want to read.
Now this boo
Instead of paying attention to lectures during class, young Henry Friston dreams of seeing the world and often stares at the world map in his classroom. After a brief stint as a deckhand, he joins the Royal Navy and becomes a gunner. The young man faces plenty of dangers, but none as frightening as the trench warfare in Gallipoli where he and a tortoise share the same space. As the war rages around them, Henry regales the creature with stories of his life back home and even shares a tomato with ...more
Annette Vellenga
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it


This book surprised me and was a delight for me and the lad.

I read this book first, I wanted to preview it for my lad. When I finished it I said "Son, you will like this book, you should read it. It really happened."

He somewhat uncertainly took the book because it's out of the usual genre that he likes to read. And he had it read in two days flat....reading it not only during his required reading time, but also at night before he went to bed.

The end result was "Mom, that was a GOOD BOOK.
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Henry Friston always longed for adventure. The high seas seemed just the place to find it. So at the age of nineteen, he joined the Royal Navy. A year later World War I began. Henry saw the world and experienced adventures that were not exactly as he imagined. One grim day while lying in a trench in the midst of a desperate battle, Henry realized he shared the lonely spot with a tortoise. Disregarding regulations, Henry took the tortoise back to the ship. Ali Pasha became a rallying point, a sym ...more
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Henry Friston is a young English soldier in Gallipoli when he makes an unexpected acquaintance in the trenches: a Greek tortoise. At first leaving the tortoise to its fate, he thinks better of this and goes back to save it. He names the tortoise Ali Pasha and takes it home on the battleship to Britain. Ali Pasha becomes a kind of talisman or symbol of strength for the men on board ship, and for Henry himself, he is a lifelong friend. Endearingly, Ali Pasha's annual emergence from hibernation bec ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book in an hour, so it was a much faster read than I anticipated. I really enjoyed the story and felt for the main character and his war experiences.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This will make a good addition to fill the gap of books for youngsters about WWI. It provides a bit of background about the war, but doesn't get too bogged down in details, rather, it reveals an overview in bits and pieces as Trev, journalist wanna-be, interviews Henry, tortoise-saving veteran. Or, did the tortoise save Henry?
The text alternates between images of Henry's journal, Henry's words in italics, and Trev's narration of his interviews. This helps the young reader easily distinguish betw
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Based on true events, this story of courage and friendship begins when Henry Friston joins the Royal Navy. Henry is looking for adventure, but never imagines that he will be involved in World War I. During a particularly frightening battle at Gallipoli, Henry is hit by a shell (a tortoise shell). This begins the lifelong friendship between Henry and Ali Pasha, the tortoise. Told in flashbacks to an aspiring news reporter, and using illustrations alongside photographs, this is the perfect introdu ...more
This is a historical biography about Henry Friston and a tortoise that he finds in the trenches of Gallipoli and how he manages to keep him safe throughout the war. Written in diary form, the reader will enjoy the narrative and illustrations. The end papers contain real photographs of Henry Friston. This book will add to the historical “living history” aspect of World War One that many young people are researching these days. This would be an excellent addition to the biography section of any l ...more
During WWI Henry Friston travels the world he has always dream about. But during a war, these dreams were often nightmares. It is in the trenches of Gallipoli that he discovers an unexpected friend and a source of strength that helps him to survive. Based on a true story and illustrated beautifully, this MSBA nominee will open the eyes of young readers to the realities of war that might open their hearts rather than harden them. A wonderful read for children and adults alike.
Laura Phelps
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: possiblemsba2015
Such a wonderful story, perfectly presented! The illustrations add just the right visual imagery and the way the story is told via diary and dialogue makes this accessible, despite the fairly deep message about war.
Marta-Kate Jackson
An great introduction to World War I. I would recommend this one to tweens and perhaps an upper elementary student who is interested in wars and battles. British soldier Henry Friston finds an unlikely companion amidst the horrors of war in Gallipoli, Egypt, and aboard a Royal Navy Ship.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Henry befriends a tortoise during a battle of WWI. Based on a true story.
Maine Student Book Award Nominee 2016-2017
Mrs.Melaugh Melaugh
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful true story of a young English boy during World War I who adopts a tortoise that was blown into a foxhole with him. Includes photos and images of artifacts from his wartime experiences.
Henry S
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Theo: This was a very inspiring book. I would definitely recommend it. It is about a man going to war and developed a lifetime relationship.
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Simple text and wonderful illustrations tells the true story of WWI sailor and Gallipoli tortoise who became his life-long companion.
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Jan 04, 2018
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Michael has worked on magazines, book jackets, animated films, TV adverts, and even for the police, sketching criminals described by witnesses. As well as illustrating many of his own books, Michael has illustrated over a hundred books for authors such as Shakespeare, J. M. Barrie, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Michael has travelled widely - to Africa, Japan, the Arctic Circ ...more