Tank Boys. Stephen Dando-Collins
Random House Australia Children’s
In 2014 we begin the commemorations of the ANZAC centenary and reflect on the sacrifices, the heroism, the determination and the fortitude of our men and women of valour, both past and present. Several new books have been published which will add depth and understanding for young people. Tank Boys, written by one of Australian’s most noted historians is set to not only engage your boy readers from 12 up but provide them with real insight into the conflict of World War 1.
There will certainly be many Queensland boys who have seen the German tank, Mephisto, on display at the Queensland Museum Southbank. In Tank Boys, the story of the first tank battle in military history and the subsequent capture of Mephisto by Australian troops is told through the eyes of Frankie, Taz and Richard – all boy soldiers though on opposing sides.
The history of boy soldiers in conflict has been well documented and the First World War was no exception. Frankie and Taz are two young Australians who, like many others, thought joining up would be a huge adventure. Richard is German and finds himself inside the lumbering giant tank as it heads to the battle lines at Villers-Bretonneux, France. All three are just sixteen years old and discover that the reality of war and its horrors is far from their preconceived notions of gallant action and patriotic pride.
Expertly weaving fact with fiction, Dando-Collins has created a fascinating story in which the paralleled perspectives of these boys who are ‘enemies’ offer readers pause for reflection and the chance to critically discuss different viewpoints behind the conflict.
Themes of friendship, courage and empathy as well as the tense descriptions of one of the most decisive battles of the war make for a gripping tale which will engage young readers, especially boys.
A fact section which gives readers more detail and relates the author’s inspiration for writing the story lends to the substance of the novel.
Highly recommended for readers 12 plus – particularly boys.