Monday 22 August 2016

Toitoi: Anzac special issue

Toitoi: Anzac special issue (February 2016)

92 pages with full page colour illustrations

Subjects: World War One, World War Two, Gallipoli, France, trenches, junior fiction, children’s writing (Year 5-8)


Toitoi is a quarterly journal for young New Zealand writers and artists, aged 5-13, which publishes “material with an original and authentic voice that other young people can connect to and be inspired by and that reflects the cultures and experiences of life in New Zealand.” It encourages creativity and can also be used in the classroom with teaching notes for each issue.
You can read more about it here
And they also have a Facebook page.

This Anzac special issue is filled with highly imaginative work that tells the story of war in many different forms: stories, poems, letters, diary entries and even a song, with accompanying full page illustrations. One piece in French (Poilu by Tristan Hosking, aged 9) manages to be an acrostic poem as well.  

They cover topics such as leaving NZ by ship (from the point of view both of those leaving and those left behind), posting a tin of Anzac biscuits, Gallipoli, France, the trenches, seeing friends die in battle, losing a loved one and remembering the war years later in Anzac Day ceremonies and small family interactions. Many of the writers show great sensitivity and they also use some powerful sensory descriptions.

I liked so many of these pieces that it’s hard to single any out, but here are a few lines that particularly moved or impressed me with their thoughtfulness, empathy and imagination:

“Imagine having great valour then slowly having a disheartened mind.”
(from Imagine by Kareena Dunlop, aged 11)

“It looks like we are winning which is quite good so I might be home in time for Christmas”
(from April 1915, a letter, by Alice Kelsall, aged 7)

“In Flanders Fields I see death / In every second and every breath.”
(from In Flanders Fields, a poem by Kyuss Williamson, aged 12)

“How still you die / When you are dead / How still you lie…
I know both sides / Both stories / Both losses / I know both sides.”
(from My people, a poem by Ilana Kizildere, aged 10)

“I am ashamed that I killed people. But then again, I’m proud that I ought for my country. That’s why I just sit here. The Second World War haunts me every day.”
(from Grandpa’s story by Megan Foster and Madison Blackwood, aged 11)

Similarly with the many wonderful illustrations, it’s hard to select just a few, but I was especially impressed by Alisha Sangster’s illustration for Grandpa’s story, showing the old man leaning on a stick with a soldier’s shadow looming behind him. I also liked Aisha Tanaka-Avers’ departing  ship, Apple Minoza’s white cross on a swirly coloured background, Pieta Bayley’s woman packing up the tin of Anzac biscuits, Anna de Boyett’s dramatic portrait of a horse, Stella Hinton’s soldier silhouette (reproduced on the front cover above) and Shahni Tagatoa’s muted graveside scene.

Have you read it?
Have you read this issue of Toitoi? Let me know what you think!
Have you submitted anything to Toitoi? Check out the dates that the next submissions close and have a go. It's such a great magazine and a wonderful opportunity to see your work in print.  

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