Book Club Preview Verdict: The Reindeer and the Submarine by Beverley McWilliams

Book Club Preview Verdict: The Reindeer and the Submarine by Beverley McWilliams

An orphaned reindeer with no antlers, Pollyanna is raised by Igor, a Sámi herder, and is more at home in the company of people than other reindeer. When she discovers Igor is leaving for war, Pollyanna decides to follow, but en route, she is captured and gifted to the crew of a British submarine, the HMS Trident.

Life onboard the Trident brings more than a few surprises, and Pollyanna – with her love of food – gets into all kinds of mischief. But she also makes friends, becomes part of the crew, and uses her courage and cheekiness to comfort her companions in the dark days of the war. Eventually, all journeys come to an end however, and Pollyanna finds herself facing a new adventure.

A timeless story of bravery, hope and facing change, as told by Pollyanna, the real-life reindeer who proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Buy a copy of The Reindeer and the Submarine here. 

Read some fantastic reviews of The Reindeer and the Submarine from a primary school book club here:

Are you looking for a book that is intriguing and a real page turner? Look no further than The Reindeer and the Submarine! I liked this book because it was enjoyable and it was a page turner. I felt like I was on the submarine myself! I loved Pollyanna because it felt like she was no ordinary reindeer, she was unique and special in her own way. One of my favourite quotes was when Igor said “Great things cancome from new beginnings, Pollyanna. New adventures. New friendships. But sometimes we must try hard to make it work.” I also liked when Igor gave Pollyanna his mother’s collar. It made me feel like I was never alone, I always had someone with me. In my heart. This book was a really intriguing read and it was excellent! There was a lot of change and transition for Pollyanna, just like what has happened over the past few years. We have had a lot of changes due to the pandemic. Like Pollyanna had lots of changes due to the war. Both were very strange and frightening for a little reindeer. She would not have known what was going on very well and it would have been very confusing. It was really interesting to see the reindeer’s perspective of things. Things that we would call normal would be really strange for Pollyanna. If we saw the book with a normal human perspective, it would not be as interesting. It would still have the excitement of the war, but it would be more normal. I think the perspective of the story makes the book more interesting. There is lots of feeling to this book. When Pollyanna was on the captain’s rug, it made me feel warm and loved. Parts of the story had a hint of humour. There were little bits in each chapter I found quite amusing. Overall, I think this book is great for readers who are 8 – 11 years old. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy of The Reindeer and the Submarine today! Jessica T, Year 4 – 5 stars

What a book! Had me laughing, crying, and hanging onto the edge of my seat. The book took turns, so I had no idea what was going to happen next. It made me want to read on to see what would happen next. At the start of the book there was a strong first chapter. Introducing the reindeer Igor and Mischa, it took me a few pages to realise it was in the perspective of a reindeer. It adds a whole new view to the book it makes you wonder about the other people thoughts, but it is interesting to hear Pollyanna’s thoughts. When Pollyanna and Mischa decided to go to find Igor it added a real hook to the book. I read 8 chapters that night because I just could not put the book down. When Pollyanna bordered the submarine, I felt worried for her, it felt very real almost like I was Pollyanna. As they were on the submarine and the environment began to lighten it felt like the book was getting brighter and the writing was becoming happier, until they started talking about the end of the journey. When Pollyanna began to feel sad about the journey ending, I felt sad I did not want it to end. When she got off the submarine and was saying goodbye to the crew mates it made me hurt for Pollyanna and the crew, more than anything I wanted them to get back on the submarine but that what’s make the book good, even if I wanted it Pollyanna had to move on and I moved on with her. Everything she did not want to do turned out to be an incredible experience for her. One of the big things In Pollyannas life is abandonment, she has been left without parents, without family time after time. When Igor and Mischa stayed behind, and Pollyanna goes on the submarine you feel a sense of sadness like they are moving on without Pollyanna. When Jim is introduced to the book it lightens up the story it is like seeing the light at the end of a tunnel, I immediately knew he was going to be a good friend to Pollyanna. When something happens to the submarine my heart stopped, as they were fading away and trying to hold their breath, I found I was doing the same thing and more than anything I wanted the ship to go up to surface like everyone else, we wanted to be safe! This book is one to remember I would 100% read it again, the characters are hilarious, the writing is unmatched. The feel to the book, the thing that makes you keep reading, for this book is stronger than any other! It is a heart stopper! Eliza, Year 5 – 5 stars

If you like a funny and heartfelt journey, then you will love the reindeer and the submarine. It is an extraordinary adventure. Sometimes I feel like I am there. Pollyanna the reindeer with no antlers goes on an amazing expedition on a submarine.Children and adults will fall in love with this book because they can learn many facts about the past. For example, Pollyanna’s adventure is real, did you know the war effected the most isolated parts of the world?Pollyanna is funny and kind. She is unique because she always finds her way. Some things Pollyanna does might surprise you.This book changed me forever because Pollyanna was resilient and that inspired me to be resilient. Saavi, Year 4 – 5 stars  

The Reindeer and The Submarine is a timeless story of adventure, love, bravery, compassion and resilience. Pollyanna the reindeer, the main character in the book, faces change, and encounters obstacles. Although challenges and hindrances are thrown at her, nothing stops Pollyanna from being a hero, helping and saving others.I am deeply convinced that The Reindeer and The Submarine is a breathtaking and heart-warming book to read. I highly recommend this amazing book to 8-year-olds and above, meaning it would be a middle grade fiction book, as some parts may not be fully understood by younger children.This book is wonderfully unique, as it is told through the eyes of Pollyanna, and it is also inspired by true events. Pollyanna is an orphaned reindeer, who has no antlers. She is raised by Igor, a Sami herder, who takes care of her, until one day, Igor leaves for war. Pollyanna decides to follow, but along the way, she is gifted to the crew of a British submarine, the HMS Trident. Pollyanna experiences tough times, but also enjoys parts of her new life.I rate this book a 10/10 because the message in the book is told by Pollyanna, that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This awe-inspiring book is definitely worth reading! Happy Reading! Jade, Year 5 – 5 stars

If you love animals and adventure, The Reindeer and the Submarine is the book for you! Cheeky Pollyanna loves her herder Igor and her best friend Misha, an arctic fox. The small reindeer enjoys a simple life of berries and chase. But when Igor leaves for war and the unique duo set off to find him, things start to get more complicated.The Reindeer and the Submarine follows the life of a reindeer, Pollyanna, onboard a Royal Navy submarine outlining her daily life of eating important papers, her journey from not belonging to being a vital part of the HMS Trident and what the world is like for a reindeer. The mysterious title definitely draws you in with curiosity and, for once, it is wise to judge this intriguing book by its cover. I love how Beverley McWilliams writes about real issues and experiences like losing or missing family members and being or feeling different. I love the sombre mood that makes it different to most books written from an animal’s perspective. I loved reading The Reindeer and the Submarine. It was a rollercoaster ride and I can’t wait to do it again! Beatrix, Year 5 – 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, because it was humorous, and it hooked me in. The parts like when Pollyanna ate the map and many other things on her adventures around the submarine were funny such as her craving for biscuits. It kept me in suspense when they were getting attacked or if they were attacking someone because you don’t know if the submarine would get hit. The descriptive language was quite detailed, it helped me really picture the scenes of the book.  I think that people would really enjoy this book. I would recommend this book to people when it is fully published because it has humour, really good descriptions, not only that it draws me in, but it is based on a true story with true things in it like the name of the submarine HMS Trident which I think is interesting. I think the message of the book is changes can be hard but sometimes you just have to do it, and it may even turn out good and that is why I really enjoyed The Reindeer and the Submarine. Isabelle, Year 4 – 5 stars  

The Reindeer and the Submarine is based on a true story, set in 1941, during WW II in the Soviet Union. The story is mainly set in a submarine. It is a story about courage, friendship, and adventure. It follows Pollyanna the reindeer’s adventure through the war in the Soviet Union with Igor, her keeper, to her capture and being gifted to the British submarine, the HMS Trident, who take her on board where she gets up to a lot of mischief. I love the fact how Pollyanna is the narrator because it appeals to me, because I like first-person stories, and because the speak directly to me. I love the description of characters and settings, they are so detailed and I love the similes and metaphors.  My favourite chapter is chapter 27, it is really intriguing. I could not put my book down and I stayed up way past my bedtime reading it. I highly recommend this book to 8–15-year-olds. I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see more from the author. Nicolette, Year 5 – 5 stars

I loved reading this book! I was not expecting the story to be written from the reindeer’s perspective – I found this added to the sense of adventure. I was very interested to learn about the Sámi people and life in the Arctic. Pollyanna’s antics on the submarine were really funny, especially when she crept into the captain’s cabin and ate the map! It was also nerve-racking when the submarine was attacked and had to dive. It was fun to see things through a reindeer’s eyes such as the Christmas dinner with Christmas cracker jokes and paper hats (that Pollyanna ate!), or when she spotted a “herd of people” on the dock when she was being hoisted out of the submarine. It is amazing that this is a true story! Julia, Year 5 – 5 stars

The book was very interesting. I never expected a reindeer would be on a submarine. I liked the names in the story, especially the reindeers name, ‘Pollyanna’. I liked the idea of a reindeer on a submarine going to war, and the adventure she has. It was very unexpected!I like all the parts where Pollyanna was running around the submarine and eating everything, especially the biscuits. Another funny part was when she was running and bumped into Bob lying in the bed, he got really angry and Jim had to keep coming to calm him down when he wanted to eat Pollyanna. I like that Jim understood her.I would like you to continue writing books about animal adventures. I would like a story about a big cat! Clara, Year 3 – 5 stars

The Reindeer and the Submarine is a fantastic book! McWilliams masterfully wrote an engaging book based on a real story. I enjoyed every page of it, and I could not put it down. This book had an engaging plot, and I was constantly finding new surprises. I loved Pollyanna and her passion for food. It was quite funny in some parts, such as when Pollyanna caused Bob to trip, and also when she ate the map. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who would like a good book to get stuck in. Kimi, Year 5 – 5 stars

The Reindeer and the Submarine is a stunning read with characters that will warm the heart. Based on the true story of a reindeer named Pollyanna and her adventures as a gift to a British Navy submarine, her story is one to be heard. She is a very sociable reindeer and always wants to be around humans. Though her personality is overwhelming for humans, she is a bundle of joy and warmth and always brought light into a dark room. Throughout her journey, Pollyanna discovers that there is more to life than yummy biscuits and moss! This book has a fabulous storyline, and the author has done an amazing job a retelling this story form World War II. I would recommend this book to all primary school students above the age of 9 years old as it has some parts of this book are difficult to understand. Molly, Year 5 – 5 stars

I loved the whole book; it was so interesting. I liked how Pollyanna’s best friend was an artic fox, called Misha. I found it really interesting how Beverly Williams wrote the book from a reindeer’s perspective. Pollyanna was a reindeer who did not have any antlers, so it was hard to fit in with the other reindeers. She loved the Sami people (mainly Igor). She always ate human food but never moss.I also laughed when Pollyanna ate the Captain’s map. Pollyanna was the first animal to be on a submarine (HMS Trident) as it she didn’t have any antlers through the torpedo tubes.Jim Riddoch worked on a farm previously, so the Captain chose him to look after Pollyanna. Jim was in charge of Pollyanna and when she first saw him, she immediately liked him. Maya, Year 3 – 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading your book. It was great, and I never knew Pollyanna could listen to human language and understand it.I enjoyed this book so much I researched about Pollyanna’s actual life, and this is what I found:Once the crew made it back to England, Pollyanna had grown too fat to exit through the torpedo tube. The crew had to use a winch to wiggle her out of the top hatch. Pollyanna lived out the rest of her days in Regents Park Zoo. This is one of the sweetest books I have ever read, and I thank you for writing it. Jacey, Year 5 – 5 stars

If you are an animal lover you will love this wonderful new book by Beverley McWilliams.This adventure story will make your heart warm with happiness and delight while reading The Reindeer and the submarine. I loved when Pollyanna ate all the bags of moss and a very important map that she stole from the captain.I learnt a lot of fantastic reindeer facts while reading this book, like how not all reindeer will have antlers. I also learnt that some reindeer are taken care of by the Sami people.Friendship and loyalty are a very important part of this heart-warming novel. Pollyanna showed different parts of loyalty and friendship by following humans into the war.I highly recommend this amazing book to all the young and old animal lovers out there! Chloe, Year 3 – 5 stars

I read the story of The Reindeer and The Submarine, and I loved it because there is comedy, drama when the sub gets hit and it’s a story about friendship. In The Reindeer and The Submarine, it’s about a reindeer called Pollyanna who is taken on an army submarine and makes lots of friends, eats maps and not always fitting in but that was okay because that makes Pollyanna special.This book is based on a true story so it can teach kids about World War 2 and about animals (mainly reindeers).One of my favourite characters was Bob. He worked in the submarine and slept in the same room as Pollyanna. Another one of my favourite characters is Igor who raised Pollyanna as a baby. Igor is also the name of my pet cat. Pollyannas main friends were Igor, Jim, Bob, Henry, the captain, Misha, and everyone on the sub.And to think this is all a true story that happened. I must admit my favourite bit was when Pollyanna ate the map! Eloise, Year 4 – 5 stars

I really liked how Beverly used a variety of adjectives and verbs. The words she used made the book much more interesting. I also loved that Beverly chose war as the topic for this book to write about because it was new to me, so it really hooked me in the book. Beverly used strong characters and emotion, and it made me feel as if I was in the submarine with crew members and Pollyanna. This book also made me feel like Pollyanna, sad because she didn’t have antlers, and determined to find Misha and to save Igor. She used tier 2 or 3 words, which made it sound very exciting. I am very sure that children my age will love this book. I really enjoyed it. Olivia, Year 4 – 5 stars

If you love animals and friendship, you will LOVE this book for sure. Pollyanna loves adventures and is also very cheeky. She is very brave and is also very willing to try out new things.Pollyanna has a friend called Misha, an artic fox, but she had to say farewell to her because the people who look after Pollyanna would go hunt for her.I learnt that not all reindeers have antlers such as Pollyanna but can also do a lot of clever things, like squeezing through little spaces.Living in a submarine are full of surprises and Pollyanna loves the yummy food and treats buts she also gets into all sorts of curious adventures.I highly recommend this book to young adults and children. Chelsea, Year 3 – 5 stars

I really love this book because the adventure type theme and the cute characteristics of Pollyanna and Misha. I love the part where Pollyanna first meets Jim and the members of the submarine, and where George feeds her. I liked reading about her new life on the submarine and how she reacts to things. I think that many children around my age will love this book. I really enjoyed reading The Reindeer and the Submarine. Emi, Year 4 – 5 stars  

This book had amazing events to true events and full of all things outrages and calming. This book was great for a long car ride or in bed! Pollyanna really was a brave reindeer. My favourite character will have to be Pollyanna, she was brave, fun, and always had your back. My favourite part is when Pollyanna and Cdr Slayden to leave. In other words, I love this book! Gilda, Year 4 – 5 stars  

Such a thrilling read of this wonderful book! The first page was far more than excellent, well done in the description. Overall, brilliant words describing the funny parts and the parts where Pollyanna tries to be silly and cheeky. I hope it becomes a bestseller! Ellie, Year 5 – 5 stars  

I loved reading this book. I loved it and I think all the kids will love it. I know that all the kids that read this book with for sure love it! I think that when you publish your book it would be so good and popular. I hope you loved what I have written and, overall, I love it. Sophie , Year 5 – 4.5 stars  

The Reindeer and the Submarine is the perfect book for those who like adventure and animals. I loved the description and humour of the characters, especially Pollyanna. I was laughing my head off when Pollyanna ate the map. The best part about the book is seeing a reindeer’s perspective and what it is like to be her. I think this is one of my favourite books! Jessica G, Year 4 –4.5 stars  

The Reindeer and the Submarine is a true and heart-warming wartime story. Pollyanna has no antlers, which makes her an ideal member of the crew. At first, she is unsure of her surroundings. Strange people, sounds, and sights scare her. But soon, she begins to trust this surprising underwater world. She follows her stomach and raises the spirits of the crew. Pollyanna is brave and smart. She does not let sirens or other loud noises stop her – most of the time. The lessons she learns from the submarine life will never leave her. Violet, Year 5 – 4 stars  

In all the books I’ve read, there’s been few in first person. Yet never have I come across a book that’s narrated by an animal, let alone a reindeer. It is fascinating to hear a reindeer’s perspective, as I’d often associate a reindeer as just a pet or an animal. Seeing Pollyanna’s humour, naivety, and emotion is nice and has provided a smile.Though there’s action, I would have preferred more of it, for action will get readers hooked in. I also feel like Pollyanna’s farewell to Misha and Igor seemed sudden and could’ve been rounded off better. Albeit it is an example of how life changes rapidly. Another thing I noticed- short chapters. It’s quite good; keeps readers with the story. More books should do this. More female characters and people of colour would be good as well.With everything aside, it is a truly heart-warming story filled with events of life and words of emotion. It shows you the perspective of an animal when few other books do. Would recommend it to classmates and friends. Holly, Year 5 – 4 stars  

The Reindeer and The Submarine” is a terrific book, set during times of uncertainty and conflict, yet still bringing smiles to our faces. Pollyanna is a role model and metaphor for us- curious, brave, and loving, and still showing us that it’s okay to be afraid. She takes us on an adventure – through the ups and downs of life on a submarine, making friends, and discovering where your home truly lies.  Pollyanna is torn away from everything she holds dear, but manages to find her feet, and proves that even the smallest reindeers can have the biggest hearts.  This remarkable tale of friendship, resilience, and courage is a great book to read on a cold day, heart-warming and inspiring. As good as this story is, I think there could be a little more development on Pollyanna’s time on the submarine. The story tends to focus on the negatives of the submarine, especially in the beginning, and both the negatives and positives tend to be glossed over.  I think there could be there could be more emphasis on explaining these aspects in a little more detail. Overall, I found the book a very good read, adventurous and bold and uplifting- perfect for animal lovers who appreciate a little adventure. Amelia, Year 6 – 4 stars  

If you like a book with plenty of character and humour, you will love Beverley McWilliams’ new book: The Reindeer and the Submarine. The main character in the story is Pollyanna the reindeer. I love how Pollyanna has a sense of humour (especially when it comes to eating things). I didn’t really get a clear picture of the characters and Pollyanna wasn’t really described, apart from not having antlers and being chubby. Also, some of the names are hard to pronounce like, Igor. However, on the bright side, I loved the story line. I think it’s very interesting having a reindeer on a submarine. The characters seem serious at first, like Bob and the captain, but they really grow on you later in the book. I also like that it is written from a reindeer’s point of view, and that she can understand humans. So, grab a copy, and get lost in the magical world of The Reindeer and the Submarine! Melissa, Year 3 – 4 stars

I really liked the book, it has good description and different characters that I liked reading about, I also like how the caption started liking Pollyanna instead of yelling at her like he did when she tripped him over. And the same with Bob and Henry how they started off disliking her but then they warmed up to her and now likes her. Poppy, Year 5 – 4 stars  

I loved reading the book the Reindeer and the Submarine. I was surprised the book was about war. I liked that you wrote a glossary. If you can, could you change the ending? I would like Pollyanna to reunite with Misha and Igor. Please write a second book! Fiona, Year 4 – 4 stars

Buy a copy of The Reindeer and the Submarine here. 

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Publisher details

The Reindeer and the Submarine
Beverley McWilliams
Pantera Press
Children’s Fiction
01 November, 2022


An orphaned reindeer with no antlers, Pollyanna is raised by Igor, a Sámi herder, and is more at home in the company of people than other reindeer. When she discovers Igor is leaving for war, Pollyanna decides to follow, but en route, she is captured and gifted to the crew of a British submarine, the HMS Trident.

Life onboard the Trident brings more than a few surprises, and Pollyanna – with her love of food – gets into all kinds of mischief. But she also makes friends, becomes part of the crew, and uses her courage and cheekiness to comfort her companions in the dark days of the war. Eventually all journeys come to an end however, and Pollyanna finds herself facing a new adventure.

A timeless story of bravery, hope and facing change, as told by Pollyanna, the real-life reindeer who proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Beverley McWilliams
About the author

Beverley McWilliams

Beverley McWilliams loves sharing history with young children. In August 2019, she published her debut picture book Born to Fly, which tells the story of South Australian aviator Captain Harry Butler and received a notable commendation from the CBCA. Beverley’s writing has also been published online and in magazines, and she is a regular contributor to The School Magazine, Australia’s longest-running literary publication for children. Beverley is the event coordinator for the Society Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI SA) and a member of the Australian Society Authors. She lives by the beach in beautiful South Australia with her family and menagerie of pets who provide endless inspiration. The Reindeer and the Submarine (2022) is her first middle-grade novel.

Books by Beverley McWilliams


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