I was only nineteen by John Schumann illustrated by Craig Smith @AllenAndUnwin

Posted: April 9, 2014 in Intermediate, Primary School, Secondary
Tags: , ,

I was only nineteen
By John Schumann
Illustrated by Craig Smith

Allen and Unwin

The Vietnam war may be in the past but it can never be forgotten. It was, at the time a controversial war. Returning soldiers were not treated with the same respect as those of the World Wars.
This sophisticated picture book is Schumann’s song I was only nineteen, put into pictures for younger readers to help them learn about the tragedy of this particular war.
I love the scenes with the colours and tones that Craig Smith has used to take us right in to the jungle. We really are in the jungle with the soldiers. Careful use of sepia tones in some pages also bring in another dimension to the story.
There is much to offer in this book, much to pull apart and mull over. While I am not a huge fan of songs becoming childrens’ books (and there are plenty these days) I do think this one works very well.
There are some teacher notes available to help make the most of this book. I think upper primary all the way through to secondary school students could learn much from this book.
I could see classes broken in to groups – those in one group watch the trailer and listen to the music and another group reads the book on its own. I would encourage the students to think about their reactions, feelings and compare the group’s responses. Food for thought!

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