Harry and the Anzac poppy by John Lockyer, illustrated by Raewyn Whaley (Reed, 1997)
New Zealand author and illustrator.
Picturebook; 24 pgs, with text facing full page illustrations
Subjects: World War One, France, Anzac Day, poppy, letters, New Zealand, grandparents, junior fiction (Year 3-6)
Harry and his Great-Grandma Kate go through her special box of letters, sent to her as a child by her father (Harry’s great-great-grandad) when he was away at World War One in 1917 and 1918.
TKI notes are available here.
How many generations away is a great-great-grandfather? How many great-great-grandfathers are on your family tree? Do you know any of their names?
Harry is named after his great-great-grandfather. Are you or anyone else in your family named after another family member? Do you know why?
In his letters, Harry’s great-great-grandfather compares himself to different animals: a pack horse, a rat, a rabbit in a hole, a crayfish. What does he mean in each case?
What do the letters tell you about conditions at the Front: the weather, the food, the sleeping arrangements and other living conditions?
What was happening in World War One in 1917 and 1918?
Where does the poppy first appear in the story? What significance does it have for us now?
Info on the author:
John Lockyer’s other titles include Lottie Gallipoli Nurse (1998) and The Anzacs at Gallipoli (1999). Willie Apiata VC (2009, Puffin), written with Paul Little, was a finalist in the Non-Fiction category of the 2010 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.
Info on the illustrator:
You can read a short bio of Raewyn Whaley here.
Other books you might like:
War game by Michael Foreman also talks about Christmas in the trenches.
New Zealand connection:
Letters were very important to the soldiers at the front, and to their families back home. On pg 14 of Anzac Day: the New Zealand story is a section called “How do we know about the war?” This explains how the soldiers’ diaries and letters home tell us a lot of what we know about the war. “Word from the front” on pg 15 explains how the Turkish soldiers, many of whom could not read or write, got their news from home.
|Delivery of mail to New Zealand soldiers, Etaples. World War 1914-1918 albums. Ref: PA1-f-102-0416. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23164376|
|Sorting letters for troops at the NZ Army Post Office in Cairo, Egypt, about 1941. NZ Dpt of Internal Affairs. War History Branch : Ref: DA-01414-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22903066|
Sometimes the mail arrived back home with black marks where the censors (usually officers) had crossed out anything that they thought might be secret information. The soldiers would often censor what they wrote themselves, not wanting their families to know the worst of what they were going through.
Lieutenant A R Martin censoring mail outside his bivy near Sora, Italy, World War II , June 1944- Photograph taken by George Kaye. NZ Dpt of Internal Affairs. War History Branch : Ref: DA-06115-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22770800
You can read an interesting account here about New Zealand prisoner of war mail in World War Two.