The heroic story of one man and a donkey - and the strange twist of fate that brought two boyhood friends together one last time during the Gallipoli campaign in World War I.

A poignant account of the story of John Kirkpatrick Simpson and how he and his donkey, Duffy, rescued over 300 men during the campaign at Gallipoli. Backed by detailed research, the text includes a brief biography of the man, details of his work at Gallipoli and also the little known story of how, without realising, he rescued his childhood friend from South Shields, Billy Lowes. The text also includes fact files on Simpson and Billy Lowes, maps and additional historical background information such as how Duffy received a VC.


Mark Greenwood, who has a passion for history and legends, is the author of many books for children, published both in the United States and in his native Australia. His recent book, The Drummer Boy of John John, was honoured by Kirkus Reviews (“Best of 2012”) and the Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book Committee. The Donkey of Gallipoli, illustrated by his wife, Frané Lessac, was a CBC Honour Book and a USBBY Outstanding International Book. His work has twice received the West Australian Premier’s Book Award. Jandamarra, illustrated by Terry Denton, was short-listed for the 2014 Children’s Book Council Awards. Mark’s latest books include The Mayflower, published by Holiday House, and Midnight, published by Walker Books Australia and New Zealand and Candlewick Press in the US.

Frané Lessac is an author and illustrator of international renown, having over forty children’s books published throughout the world. She was born in the USA and lived on the Caribbean island of Montserrat and London before moving to Australia. Frané has contributed her distinctive paintings to many critically acclaimed children’s picture books, including My Little Island, a Reading Rainbow feature book. Also, On the Same Day in March was named a Top Ten Science Books by ALA Booklist. Frané’s contribution to Amnesty International’s We Are All Born Free, celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has been translated into more than 30 languages and was a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Her latest books include The Mayflower, written by Mark Greenwood and published by Holiday House, Midnight, to be published by Candlewick Press in 2015 and A is for Australia, published by Walker Books Australia in early 2015.


The creative strengths of Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac combine here to produce an engaging work of narrative nonfiction in which the bare bones of biography are imbued with just the right touch of the imaginative to engage young readers … this picture book is both timely and relevant and moreover brings life, substance and an unexpected by-line to a familiar story.

Magpies Magazine

Simpson and his Donkey (Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac) is perhaps the finest piece of Australian literature published into April 2008. Conveyed in language, tone and colour appropriate for all readers … In legend and legacy, Simpson and his Donkey shines with spirit…

Bendigo Weekly

In folk-art style, the paintings, with shades that reflect the heat of a sandy landscape, show the heroic soldier and the gentle animal amid the slaughter of the war.


Frane Lessac’s palette…complements this deftly condensed story of extraordinary heroism.

The Sunday Age

This is an important story beautifully represented in a form suitable for educational use and also private reading.

Moving true story of compassion, courage and friendship.

Foreword Magazine USA

This account pays homage to the fallen of Gallipoli and one soldier’s unique heroics in particular

Publishers Weekly


CBCA Book of the Year Awards, Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, Children’s Books
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