Tag Archives: Gallipoli

The Soldier’s Gift – Tony Palmer and Jane Tanner

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Published:23/07/2014

Format:Hardback, 40 pages

RRP:$26.99

price:AUD $26.99

ISBN-13:9780670077571

ISBN-10:0670077577

Origin:Australia

Publisher:Penguin Aus.

Imprint:Viking

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.

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One Minute’s Silence – David Metzenthen. Illustrated by Michael Camilleri

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One Minute’s Silence – David Metzenthen. Illustrated by Michael Camilleri

ISBN 9781743316245

Allen & Unwin Children

23 July 2014

Hardback. 48 pp.

RRP $29.99

One Minute's Silence

As we approach the end of the year and Remembrance Day, as well as the ongoing centenary commemoration of World War 1 and the ANZACs’ role, this powerful and deeply moving picture book will be a must-have for your collection.

We are all aware of David Metzenthen’s skill as a writer and now combined with dramatic and poignant illustrations by Michael Camilleri, this is a book that begs to be shared across many year levels.

Beautifully told from both the Australian and Turkish perspectives, Camilleri chose to depict the combatants, using Year 12 students from the Sophia Mundi Steiner School as models, in contemporary dress and using both genders. This has the effect of visually demonstrating that ordinary young people were caught up in a bloody conflict of extraordinary proportions.

The traditional ‘one minute’s silence’ is used as the recurring motif throughout the text as moments of huge impact are recounted solemnly and with elegant simplicity.  The repetition of circular shapes and cogs connect to the passing of time in each minute’s duration. Among the many visually stunning illustrations the double page spread showing the many small contorted bodies under the dark ground, as the ANZACs depart is heart-stopping. It reduced my normally boisterous Year 10s to complete stunned silence, such is its profundity.

Camilleri’s illustrations are detailed finely  and by rendering them in monotones evoke the period of time – as does the choice of the sepia tones such as those on the cover. This also conveys the bleakness and despair of the Gallipoli campaign (or indeed any conflict) and the intense emotional impact on those involved. The reader can easily empathise with both sides in this desperate situation.

My boys were intrigued (naturally!) by  the diagrammatic style illustrations of the shrapnel bomb and the rifle.  Though clearly illustrated in the film/comic strip style action, the shooting of a young soldier is subdued, though obvious, and hence reduces the horror for younger readers.

In one minute of silence you can imagine sprinting up the beach in Gallipoli in 1915 with the fierce fighting Diggers, but can you imagine standing beside the brave battling Turks as they defended their homeland from the cliffs above…

Truly a reflective and evocative picture book, One Minute’s Silence is, I predict, potentially an award-winning book for next year’s lists.

Highly recommended for both Primary and Lower/Middle Secondary.

 

click here for Teacher’s notes and here for Michael Camilleri’s commentary.

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