Format:Hardback, 40 pages
This beautiful book, another published with timely consideration for the Anzac Centenary, arrived in our library at the start of 4th term and we all unanimously loved it for many reasons. Firstly the well-considered textured ‘retro’ style cover which instantly evokes stories from another age. Then there are the absolutely stunning endpapers which resembles scrapbook collages of significant documents and pictures from one family’s history. And of course, the story itself, poignant and yet with the hope of rebuilding and starting over, with its moving text accompanied by simply gorgeous illustrations.
Emily knows her big brother Tom wants to leave their farm and go to war, but she really doesn’t want him to do so. Their mother is no longer with them, Emily has never known her, and to her Tom is her everything. Most of all, she loves it when she and Tom and their dog Roo climb up the hill to the special cypress tree their mother had planted long ago. But Tom does go to the Great War and keeps his promise to write to Emily all the time he is away – until one day the letters stop coming and finally, in their place, a telegram arrives telling Emily and her father that Tom will never come home. As if to emphasis the finality, a wild storm fells their mother’s special cypress and Emily’s sadness knows no bounds.
In his last letter, Tom had enclosed some seeds from a special pine tree which grew in Turkey. Emily had put them away, not knowing quite what to do with them until struggling to come to terms with her grief and the refusal of her father to show his own despair. At her uncle’s suggestion, Emily sets the seeds to sprout. When the tiny seedlings are big enough to be replanted, Emily knows the perfect place to put them and clearing the ground around the spot where her mother once lovingly planted the cypress, Emily installs the three little Turkish pines. The seed of hope grows even more when her father joins her and together they build a barrier to protect the baby trees from any danger.
Exploring themes of courage and endurance, as well as the hope that can come after deep despair, this is a book for older primary readers to examine the effects of the devastation of World War I on an ordinary Australian family. It is a valuable addition to any primary library and I highly recommend it for readers around Year 4 and up.
.Read what Tony Palmer has to say about this book here.
Check out this and other books for the upcoming Centenary commemoration on Barbara Braxton’s new Pinterest page, Remembering Gallipoli, here.