Saturday, February 5, 2011
Sandro's Battle (1962)
David Scott Daniell, il. Colin Spencer (cover by Charles Geer)
1962, Duell, Sloan And Pearce
Anna was a donkey with a happy disposition. She knew she was beautiful, because Sandro often told her so. Her coat was creamy white with a dark cross along her spine and shoulders. Her little hoofs were gold-colored and her ears were long and furry.
Anna and her adoring young owner Sandro (aka Allesandro Michelangelo Tavistock Brozzi) live in the half-ruined Castello della Fontana in central Italy during World War II. Anna hates thunder, and to her delicate ears the constant, threatening rumble of the advancing war is just another terrifying storm. To Sandro, who is Italian but had an English grandmother, the war is a problem. His composer father is dreamy and impractical, leaving Sandro to take care of the mundane things of life. Which is how he ends up hiding in a confessional during a skirmish between British and German patrols. When the Brits push the Germans out, they stumble across the pair:
"What's up, Miller - found some Jerries?"
"No, sir, but look over there!"
"Great goodness, what ever is it?"
"A tail, sir. Looks like a donkey's."
"I believe you're right, Miller."
"Just the tail, sir, hanging through the curtains."
Sandro graciously invites the friendly Brits to tea the next day, an invitation he soon regrets when he returns home and finds that the Germans have moved in.
The Germans are quickly annoyed by the Brozzi family. Anna's stable is taken over by a machine gun that frightens her badly and prompts Sandro to ask the German officer in charge to please let him move her away from it.
Upset her! A donkey with bad nerves! Really, I cannot understand you or your father. He thinks of nothing but music, and you think of nothing but your donkey! Do neither of you realize we are at war?"
If he hadn't, he soon will; his new friends the English are planning to destroy his home, now a German fortress, through aerial bombardment. Horrified, Sandro begins to scheme to save the castle. And Anna, the little white donkey terrified of explosions, will ultimately save the day.
About the Author
Albert Scott Daniell was born in London and used various names during his creative life. As David Scott Daniell, he wrote many radio plays before turning to novels. He married Elizabeth Mary Thirlby in 1939, and served in Italy during World War II. The blog Bear Alley contains a very long list of his many published works.
The blog Bear Alley, about David Scott Daniell
The website Easy On The Eye, which specializes in Ladybird Books, on Daniell's non-fiction Flight series about travel.