Friday 22 April 2016

Lest we forget by Feana Tu’akoi

A book for Anzac Day:

Lest we forget by Feana Tu’akoi, illustrated by Elspeth Alix Batt (Scholastic, 2011)

32 pages with pen and wash illustrations

Subjects: World War Two, Vietnam, Anzac Day, dawn parade, family, picture books (Year 2-5)

This story is unusual for a picture book about war, in that it spends a lot of time focusing on women and giving them a voice. Tyson doesn’t want to go along to the Anzac Day dawn parade because he thinks it’s all about glorifying war. But after talking with his mother, Nana and Great-gran, he starts to see another side of the story. On Anzac morning he gets up early after all and goes to the dawn parade with his mother and Koro, who was wounded in Vietnam, and together they recognise the importance of the day and remember those who have died in war.

The te reo Māori version was shortlisted in the SLANZA Te Kura Pounamu awards 2012 and the late Katerina Mataira won the Te Rōpū Whakahau award Te Tohu Pounamu 2012 for her translation.

There’s a family tree at the beginning, which is useful to flip back to until you have the family connections straight in your mind.

Here's a review on the National Library Create readers site. 
You can also listen to the story on the RNZ Storytime treasure chest.

About the author
Feana Tu’akoi has written many stories and article for the educational market, as well as the What is a ///? non-fiction series.  She lives in Hamilton with her Tongan husband and their children. amiloton with her Tongan husband and their chidlrne. You can read more about her on the Book Council and Storylines sites.

Here’s an interesting interview with her on Paula Green’s Poetry Box website:
“I wrote Lest We Forget very quickly – in one sitting, in fact – although I did spend a lot of time editing and re-editing, until I was happy with it. I didn’t need to do any research, as it was a mixture of all the thoughts I’d ever had about ANZAC Day parades. The understanding that Tyson comes to during afternoon tea is the understanding I came to, after studying NZ history at university.”

There’s another interview, talking about why she wrote this book, on the My best friends arebooks blog: "We need to remember the past, so we can make better decisions in the future. I think that the next generation is smart enough to do just that. And that’s why I dedicated this book to my kids.”

About the illustrator
Elspeth Alix Batt has also done a lot of illustration work for the educational market, especially the School Journal

Other books you might like:
Grandad’s medals by Tracy Duncan, illustrated by Bruce Potter, My Grandad marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy, Anzac Day parade by Glenda Kane

Have you read it?
Have you read this book? Let me know what you think!

Saturday 2 April 2016

My Gallipoli by Ruth Starke, illustrated by Robert Hannaford

Anzac Day is only a few weeks away and so this book on people who were at at Gallipoli seems like a good one to review at this time. It also marks my 70th book review for this blog. 

My Gallipoli by Ruth Starke, illustrated by Robert Hannaford (Working Title Press, 2015)

32 pages with full page illustrations

Subjects: World War One, France, Australia, Turkey, nurses, chaplains, war correspondents, Charles Bean, war artists, George Lambert, snipers, Billy Sing, Ataturk, Mule Corps, war graves, Cyril Hughes, sophisticated picture books (Year 6-12)

Book Cover:  My Gallipoli

From the shores of Anzac Cove to the heights of Chunuk Bair, from Cape Helles to Gurkha Bluff, the Gallipoli Peninsula was the place where thousands of men from sixteen nations fought, suffered, endured or died during the eight months of occupation in 1915. For each of them, their families and their nurses, Gallipoli meant something different. Their voices emerge from the landscape and across the decades with stories of courage, valour, despair and loss.” (Penguin Books website)

The title suggests that Gallipoli has some personal resonance for all of us, while the cover, with its portraits in individual squares, gives a clue to the way the story will be told inside. I like the way that it focuses on real historical characters, as well as nameless Anzac soldiers and Turkish people, and also includes women, stretcher bearers, the chaplain and indigenous soldiers.

I also like the fact that it doesn’t finish in December 1915, but shows the ongoing effects of the campaign, and what it might be like to revisit Gallipoli today. There are useful extra facts at the back and a map at the front. Each spread could be used as a springboard to find out lots more information.

Teachers’ notes are available here and include comments from both author and illustrator about the thinking, ideas and inspiration behind the book.

There are plenty of good reviews that will give you a idea of the book’s themes and potential readership. The Readings website says that "the rich panoply of voices in Ruth Starke’s text offers upper primary and lower secondary students a broad understanding of the Anzac Campaign and the current views of those engaged in the war as well as those at home." Other reviews appear in The Book Chook and Kids Book Review.

Which page was the most surprising for you? Which one presented a viewpoint that you hadn’t thought of before?

Author’s website
Ruth Starke lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and has published more than 20 novels for young people. Before becoming an author, Ruth worked in public relations and travel marketing, and at a great variety of other jobs - of which the most interesting, she says, were selling French perfume in Harrods, cooking on the radio, taking tourists to Kashmir, and interviewing Grand Prix drivers. Ruth has also written “An Anzac tale,” a graphic novel about Gallipoli.

This is my favourite of “20 questions with Ruth” on her website:
What is the naughtiest thing you did?
Accidentally swallowed my best friend's brother's prize goldfish during a “dare”.

Info about the illustrator
This is Robert Hannaford’s gallery

In an interview in The Advertiser, he explains “How to paint a portrait” and says, “This is why I paint. I never get sick of it. Painting for me is a learning experience.”

NZ connections:
I’m pleased to see that  Ruth Starke, included a story told by a New Zealand soldier, “Private Andrew McBain” of the Auckland Mounted Rifles, and his mate Frankie, in the pages on Chunuk Bair.