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An Anzac Tale & Anzac Biscuits - Two New Children's Books

Home > Adelaide > Teenagers | Fun for Children | Books and Writing | Book Reviews | ANZAC Day
by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
Published April 22nd 2013
Two Adelaide authors make war more approachable for children
An Anzac Tale
An Anzac Tale by Author, Ruth Starke & Illustrator, Greg Holfeld.

An Anzac Tale
Anzac Biscuits by author, Phil Cummins & Illustrator, Owen Swan.

In 2015 we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. Publishers are keen to meet the growing interest in readers wanting to know more about Australia's history of war. The Anzac landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 may have seemed a promising adventure for some, but the outcome proved to be a staggering disaster in Australian military history, with more than 8,709 killed and 17,924 wounded.

Commemoration service at Anzac Cove.
Commemoration service at Anzac Cove - Holfeld's lIllustration.

Around this time each year books are published for adult readers regarding Australia's involvement in various wars, but there have been an increasing number of books written about the Anzac story especially for children. This year two books have been written by two of SA's most successful children's authors, Ruth Starke and Phil Cummins.

Anzacs, Wally, Roy and new mate Tom - Holfeld's lIllustration.

An Anzac Tale by author. [/I] Ruth Starke and illustrator, Greg Holfeld is a graphic novel with bold drawings with limited text, but is highly appealing as it brings to life, true events through using Australian animals to portray the characters. The characters still convey the futility and frustration the Anzac's suffered and the horrors they experienced.

Simpson and his donkey retrieving the wounded Anzacs - Holfeld's lIllustration.

The book depicts various aspects of the historical events that the characters are part of, as well as presenting their thoughts and emotions whether they are the people back home in Australia, or the soldiers experiencing action in a war zone. The tale for upper primary readers, raises many questions concerning duty, bravery, the war back home, people's different attitudes, varying attitudes towards the enemy and the lasting legacy; why is Gallipoli still so important to Australians?

Gathering the wounded on the beaches - Holfeld's lIllustration.

Starke has had over 20 books published since she commenced writing in 1992. Many of her books have either won or been shortlisted for national literary awards.

An Anzac Tale
Anzacs fighting on the battlefield - Holfeld's lIllustration.

Canadian born Holfeld, moved to Adelaide in 1991. He has been an animator and cartoonist for most of his working life. He has directed and produced his own animated films and has illustrated several books. He was awarded an Australian Council Grant and assistance from Mary Gibbs foundation so he could spend more than a year creating the illustrations.

An Anzac Tale
Rachel safe at home with her Mother - Swan's illustration.

Phil Cummins and book illustrator, Owen Swan have created a new approach of telling the Anzac Story to children aged from four years old. He admits he has always avoided writing about the life of the Anzacs on the front line as it has been told many times over, and there is also the matter of telling this story in a way that is suitable and will appeal to young children.

An Anzac Tale
The soldier bravely lifted his head to peer across the fields - Swan's illustration.

Anzac Biscuits is the story of a family divided through the father being away fighting on the front line of a war, while his wife and his daughter, Rachel are home in Australia. While they are safe and warm he is in a danger in the trenches where he feels cold and afraid. Rachel bakes Anzac biscuits to send to her father, and in doing so sends the love, warmth and hope he needs. This moving story is about a family brought together through the powerful simplicity of Rachel sending to her father Anzac biscuits.

These books reminded me of how much times have changed - I can remember being told when growing up, "Don't mention the war." So the only stories I heard from my Dad who fought during World War II in the Middle East, were his funny experiences.

An Anzac Tale
Anzacs fighting in the trenches - Holfeld's lIllustration.

We now have children's books and graphic novels that convey different aspects of war in different styles suitable for different age groups. I felt both books offer children a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what it means to live through a war, whether fighting on the frontline or waiting at home. Each book in its own way offers opportunities for raising questions to lead to meaningful discussions.

Both books, An Anzac's Tale and Anzac Biscuits were courtesy of Booked at North Adelaide 81 O'Connell Street, North Adelaide.

An Anzac Tale
Booked at North Adelaide.
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Why? Two books showing how to make war approachable for children
Phone: 8361 9866
Where: 81 O'Connell Street, North Adelaide.
Cost: Anzac Biscuits $24.99 - An Anzac Tale $24.99
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