Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Remembering, not Celebrating

I cheered the day my son failed his Air Force medical.  So what if his engineering degree would have been fee-free? He would have been sent to fight and possibly die in a futile war.  I preferred him ill than dead.   

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire (Electric Monkey), a story about a young ATA pilot in World War 11.  For me, Wein’s Code Name Verity ranks with Markus Zusak’s Book Thief as one of the most moving books I’ve ever read.

With Remembrance Day looming, I thought readers might be interested in some books that refute the propaganda that war is glorious and honourable.  

In Kerry Greenwood’s Evan’s Gallipoli (Allen & Unwin) a 14 year old faces many dangers (and the ineptitude of the Allied military leaders) after following a mentally ill father behind enemy lines. On the journey to freedom, Evan finds ransacked villages, displaced people and learns that places such as Thrace, Bulgaria and Greece suffer because of the war. The Turks (and the reader) struggle to understand why Australians invaded their home to fight a German enemy.
Davide Cali and Serge Bloch’s The Enemy (Wilkins Farago) and Joy Cowley’s The Duck in the Gun (Rigby) are anti-war picture books with a simple yet powerful message.

In Flanders Field by Norman Jorgensen and Tasmanian based illustrator Brian Harrison-Lever (Simply Read Books) (sadly out of print), shows us a small act of humanity contrasting with the carnage and devastation of war.

Billy Mack’s War by James Roy (UQP) tells the trauma of a returned soldier, a victim of the Burma Railway. 

Suzanne Collins’ (of Hunger Games fame) Year of the Jungle: Memories from the Home Front (Scholastic) is based on her own struggles as a young child when her father was fighting in Vietnam.

Of course, these books and many others such as Morris Gleitzman’s Once, Then, Now and After quartet (Penguin) and Ruta Sepetys’ Betweeen Shades of Gray show there is love and hope in the midst of despair. Maybe if our children and their children read books like these, we might be less likely to start another war.

Nella Pickup


  1. One would would hope for children "less likely to start a war". On the other hand, children eventually need to know too, that if there is nothing worth dying for, in the end, there is nothing worth living for. Many things we cherish like our freedoms were purchased at great cost by people who believed that. Something to celebrate.

  2. Great blog Nella. I want to read all of these.