Sunday, 2 April 2017

A day to remember: the story of Anzac Day by Jackie French, illustrated by Mark Wilson

A day to remember: the story of Anzac Day by Jackie French, illustrated by Mark Wilson (Angus & Robertson, 2012)

32 pages with Mark Wilson’s colour and black and white illustrations

Subjects: World War One, Gallipoli, World War Two, Korean War, Vietnam War, protest movement, Anzac Day, picture books, non fiction (Year 5-8)



Synopsis
This book tells the story of Anzac Day by tying the date of 25 April to specific events in particular years, starting with the first landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. The first Anzac Day parades and services are held in 1916; in 1918, the war still continues, but it is over by 25 April 1919. In the late 1920s, the tradition of the dawn service begins; in the 1930s, many returned soldiers are suffering through the Depression. Anzac Day continues to be marked through World War Two, the Korean War and the protest years of the Vietnam War.

The book continues up to the present day through Australian involvement (again often controversial) in other wars, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and traces the increased interest in visiting Gallipoli for the dawn service at Anzac Cove.

Teacher’s notes include Jackie French talking about her inspiration for the book, and Mark Wilson talking about his technique and how he interpreted his task. The figures on the cover are his son and granddaughter – how lovely is that?

Reviews:
Kids Book Review recommends it highly, saying that "You know a book by Jackie French is going to be researched to the nth degree, and presented with clarity, emotion and fascination - and A Day to Remember is no exception."

The never-ending bookshelf says is it is a picture book that adults would enjoy and learn from as well; "What I found particularly interesting with this book was the way that Jackie French focused on the concept and meaning of Anzac day through various generations and the way that it was developed, shaped and then lessened in meaning before reaching height again today." This reviewer suggests it is not for young children under 8, "as it is very heavy on the history and less narrative based". 

Author’s website
Jackie French is an amazing writer with a brilliant website which features a page on this book. Her other war-related books include The beach they Called Gallipoli, Pennies for Hitler and A rose for the Anzac boys.

Illustrator’s website

NZ connections:
Are we mentioned? Yes, often (thanks, Jackie French!) Sometimes the New Zealanders are left out of (Australian) books on Anzac, so it’s good to see their contribution recognised.

I also appreciated seeing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers acknowledged, men who “fought long ago in the service of a land where many were not even allowed to vote”.

Have you read it?
Have you read this book? Let me know what you think!