Posts Tagged ‘World War 1’

As we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, it is timely to look at two new war-themed books by much-loved author, Michael Morpurgo. While written for children, these books really are for everyone.

Poppy Field

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9781407181424

Scholastic

Poppy Field
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are well known for their partnership over many  award-winning children’s books. This time they have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy and why we wear it still.

Morpurgo skilfully tells the story of young Martens whose family live on a farm in Flanders Field. 

A poor girl out selling eggs one day meets a soldier as he sits on his own trying to write a poem for his dead comrades; in particular, his best friend, whom he has just buried. He doesn’t want eggs or even the poppies she offers him, but upon his request, she places some poppies on the dead soldier’s grave. In return, she takes a crumpled up scrap of paper with the draft of a poem he was working on. The poem is eventually framed and handed down through four generations of the young girl’s family. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

While the story speaks many truths, it is a work of fiction but more important than that, it is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. it shows us that there is hope and a future because of those who fought before us and for us.

The story is beautifully illustrated in soft greys, blacks and browns, with the only colour being the red poppies which stand out, symbolic and proud.

The Afterword about the history of the poppy and why it is still worn 100 years later, however, is in full colour. The contrasting colours between the story and the Afterword only adds to the haunting quality of the story. A  story that needed to be told. 

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

Our Jacko

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by David Gentleman

ISBN 9781406366136

Walker Books

 

There is an old scruffy tin hat which has always been in Michael’s house for as long as he can remember.  It has been used as a toy, a feeding bowl for the hens and even a hanging basket but no one can remember where it comes from. Michael hates it, always has, especially the hole and what the hole likely means. Somewhere, someone wearing that helmet must have died in the war. A school trip and project about the First World War is what changes Michael’s mind when he discovers the hat belonged to his great, great grandfather, Jacko, who never returned from the war. Our Jacko, as the family used to call him, died in Ypres in 1915. Michael and his family discover Jacko’s old diaries and learn so much about life in the trenches, fighting during the First World War. 

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey of discovery and the realisation that no matter how awful and tragic the war was, we do need to remember it. We do need to remember those who died and the impact of those losses on everyone and how it changed the world. Peace came at a cost, and we need to remember those who paid the price. 

This is a special book aimed at the 8-12 year olds,  perfectly timed for Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.

 

 

 

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ANZAC Animals

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Marco Ivancic

ISBN 9781775434740

Scholastic NZ & Scholastic AU

 

Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic deservedly won the prestigious Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award in 2016 for their book ANZAC Heroes. They continue to bring quality books and ANZAC Animals is destined to be another hit.

Maria Gill’s research for her non-fiction books is her trademark. She finds the stories, painstakingly does her research for accuracy and then writes her books taking time to polish to perfection. ANZAC Animals delivers another well-formated non-fiction book. All the text features are there; introduction, contents, glossary, charts, photographs, index etc. with the addition of maps and timelines. The layout is well placed and easy to read. 

ANZAC Animals is a collection of true tales of animal heroes and mascots from World War One and World War Two.

The collection is both fascinating and delightful. I love the story of Lulu the chicken mascot who would warn soldiers of approaching enemy aircraft with her noisy shrieking so that they had time to hide safely.

Or the story of Torty the tortoise, who became a listening ear to James Stewart Little as he described the horror of the things he saw during WWI. Believe it or not Torty is still alive today – 100 years later.

This is an extraordinary collection of tales about animals in war.  There are dogs, horses, mules, pigeons, and even a monkey. They all had one thing in common. The animals were the companions of soldiers. They helped soldiers cope and in many cases, helped them survive the atrocities of war.

One of the most famous is of  the story of Murphy the donkey who carried injured soldiers to safety. The stories of soldiers have long been told but sometimes animals are heroes too and this book is all about the animals and what has made them all so special during some of the worst of times.

The illustrations are very impressive and very life-like. The colours and tones are beautiful. Every hair, whisker or feather is so real you wish you could almost leap into the page and pat the animals.

An excellent book and a must-have for any library. 

Check out author Maria Gill’s book trailer and see for yourself just what is so special about this book.

 

 

ANZAC Day is such a special event in both New Zealand and Australian history that 100 years later we are still respecting our ancestors and all they did to serve our countries.

Here is a selection of some of my favourite World War One picture books to share with children. While not all focus on the Gallipoli Campaign, they do talk of the impact of war and are all very worthy to share with children when they ask why do we still have ANZAC parades. Simply put, it is to remember them. All of them. Those who went to war, those who fought and never made it home and yes, even those who stayed at home and helped kept families strong.

 

Gladys goes to war

By Glyn Harper

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9780143507208

Puffin Booksgldays

 

Gladys Sandford was a very special and determined woman. Told that war was no place for women, Gladys fought convention and went to war, driving ambulances and even fixing them. Gladys was also the first woman in New Zealand to gain a pilot’s license. Based on the real life Gladys this is a very special book. Often illustrators are great at either drawing animals or people. It is not every illustrator who can do both well but Jenny Cooper does this and does it beautifully.

 

The ANZAC puppy

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Trish Bowles

ISBN 9781775430971

Scholastic

puppy

“In the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, in the middle of a war, a puppy was born.’ This fictional story was inspired by the story of Freda, a Harlequin Great Dane and mascot of the NZ Rifle Brigade during World War 1. The ANZAC Puppy is a simple story about the reality of war, hardship, friendship and love.”

This is a great story for younger readers especially for its happy ending, despite the harsh realities of war and the pain of being involved in such awful times.

 

 

The red poppy

By David Hill

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775430704

Scholastic

poppy

“Young soldier Jim McLeod waits in the trenches of World War I for the order to attack the enemy. With him are his friends, and Nipper, the messenger dog. When they charge across no-man’s-land, Jim is shot …and finds himself face to face with an enemy soldier.”

 A poignantly illustrated picture book with lots to say. There is more focus on the trenches in David Hill’s story than some of the others chosen here today and this certainly adds impact. I love the colours used for this book. The sepia tones and the blood red of the poppies are ideal for this story and perfect for older children. There is much to read and look at in this book and would be ideal in a classroom of year 5 and six students. There is also the wonderful addition of a CD to listen to.

 

Jim’s letters

By Glyn Harper

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9780143505907

 

jim

“Dear Jim, Your postcard arrived today. I showed it to the family. Mum misses you…” Between December 1914 and August 1915 Tom and Jim write to each other whenever they get a chance. Tom talks about life at home on the farm while Jim writes from Egypt and then from the trenches of the Gallipoli peninsula”

The power of this book is highlighting the lives of those at war and family at home. It was hard for family waiting at home knowing any day they might receive the dreadful news that their beloved son, brother or father was either wounded or killed. Nothing was certain and I think this book depicts this very well.

 

There are so many more books I could share. Below are two of my favourites already reviewed on this blog.

One minute’s silence

By David Metzenthen

 

ANZAC Heroes

By Maria Gill  (non-fiction but a perfect book to support these picture books)

My Gallipoli

By Ruth Starke

Illustrated by Robert Hannaford

ISBN 9781921504761

Working title press

myGallipoli

With the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign happening this weekend, My Gallipoli is a must read for children and students everywhere to help understand what it must have been like during those terrible times of World War One.

The author has woven very skillfully all the different points of view. We see what it was like to be a Turk defending their homeland. We see the Australian and New Zealand soldiers arriving ready to fight, but totally unprepared for the reality of war. We are drawn in to the life of a nurse caring for wounded and dying soldiers and even a chaplain who laments that there are “too many bodies to give them proper burials”.

There are many more stories shared in this sophisticated picture book and the illustrator has captured those moments and the landscape perfectly with his mixed media illustrations. This is a powerful book, in that by allowing us to see so many sides of the war at Gallipoli, we can’t help but realize how futile it all was and the huge cost of such a war.

At the back of the book there are three pages of biographical notes with further information on each of the characters portrayed. This is a beautifully produced book aimed at school students but its value goes beyond just use in a classroom. The accounts are poignant for all readers.

What I found most intriguing was that all were desperate to help their cause no matter what side they were on, and you can feel and connect with their frustration at what was happening all around them. A powerful book!

I do urge you to read the teacher notes here if you want to make the most of this wonderful resource.

One minute’s silence

By David Metzenthen

Illustrated by Michael Camilleri

ISBN 9781743316245

Allen & Unwin

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As part of our school library’s current commemorations on World War 1 I purchased a copy of One minute’s silence.  I had known about this book and had been waiting for its publication for awhile so snapped it up immediately it hit our shops.

It is an impressive sophisticated picture book with beautiful illustrations, evocative language and insight into the terrible time known as the Gallipoli campaign.

The cover hits you straight way with two faces (one an Australian solder, the other a Turkish soldier) within a circle of never-ending soldiers and crosses. With its sombre sepia tones the message becomes clear that war is a global issue and its impact effects everyone, everywhere.

The book begins with a group of students who really would rather be anywhere else other than inside a classroom having a history lesson. Slowly the teacher draws the students in and one by one they become witnesses to the atrocities of Gallipoli.

I shared this book with my book club children; a group of 10 and 11 year olds who were mesmerized. The discussions generated were amazing. The power of this book is the ability to show readers the two sides of the campaign. The ANZAC soldiers on attack and the Turkish soldiers on defense. Both sides were doing what they thought was right.

The impact of these attacks was devastating and the imagery in this book highlights the losses from both sides.

There are teacher notes available here for further in-depth discussion and activities to make the most of this excellent book. There really is so much to unpack in this book, from the use of sepia tones, frames showing the passing of time and even to the double spread image of flies and what that could possibly mean. This is quite honestly, an amazing book that moves the reader emotionally as we connect with our past and encourages us to reflect on the futility of war. The last page brought many of us to tears. It is a book to share and a book to treasure no matter the subject. Just brilliant!

Private Peaceful
By Michael Morpurgo

Anyone who knows me, knows that my all time favourite author is Michael Morpurgo. His books are powerful and always very moving. He came out to New Zealand a few years ago and thundered out on to the stage, his voice booming and suddenly hundreds of students, teachers and librarians were in awe of this wonderful story teller.
This trailer is actually for the movie of his very popular book Private Peaceful. Those of you in the UK will get to see this way before we will here in New Zealand so I will be waiting to hear how it goes. If you haven’t read any of his books then I urge you to do so.
Private Peaceful is about two brothers out on the battle field trying to survive in World War 1. It is a story of love and loss and the horrors of war. I can not wait to see this movie.