My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, by Catriona Hoy

I sit on Daddy’s shoulders.
It’s a very long wait, but my grandad will come.
My grandad marches on Anzac Day.

Anzac Day is an important remembrance of the men and women who have fought and died for our country throughout our history. Whilst few would refute the import of the day, it is not always an easy concept to share with young children.

In My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, talented new author Catriona Hoy, makes the story of Anzac Day accessible to children through a telling of one Anzac Day through the eyes of a granddaughter who goes to the Anzac Day parade to watch her grandfather march. She shares her observations of the day very realistically – from the observation of how cold it is at dawn, to the way Grandad smiles at her as he proudly marches past. She explains why her grandad marches – and what Anzac Day means – in very simple terms.

The illustrations, painted in acrylic and mixed media by Benjamin Johnson, are richly textured and present the scenes of the parade and of war in a way which does not gloss over the reality, but is still appropriate for young viewers.

This is an outstanding introduction to an important ceremony and will be invaluable as a classroom resource, but should also find a home in every family library.

First published in hardcover in 2006, My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day has been released in paperback in time for Anzac Day.


My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day

My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day, by Catriona Hoy and Benjamin Johnson Lothian, 2006, 2008

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Children, by Charlotte Wood

You bring your children up to escape sorrow. You spend your best years trying to stop them witnessing it on television, in you, in your neighbours’ faces. Then you realise, slowly, that they must steer their own way through life’s cruelties.

When their father falls off the roof and lies critically injured in hospital, Mandy, Stephen and Cathy come home for the first time in years. Like any family, there are rivalries and hurts between the three, which must be confronted as they sit at their father’s bedside and try to support their mother. Mandy has raced back from Baghdad where, as a foreign correspondent, she deals with death on a daily basis. Cathy, her sister has joined her on the trip down, driven by Mandy’s husband Chris. And Stephen, the prodigal, has eventually arrived unannounced to join the rest.

As Geoff lies dying, the three alternately comfort and confront, dealing with past and present hurts. Margaret, their mother, must also confront her own fears and insecurities – about lost chances and her track record as mother and wife. But someone else is involved, too. A stranger who no one remembers. Tony is a wardsman at the hospital, but is also a figure from Mandy’s past, determined to become part of her current life. His presence is unwanted, and dangerous.

The Children is an insightful novel, looking at family relationships and the effects of death and illness on these connections, as well as on the impact that being exposed to violence can have on an individual. Moving through the long and emotional days of the family’s bedside vigil, the story offers the multiple viewpoints of the different players, so that the reader is drawn into the differing perspectives of the family members and comes to care about what happens to them.

This is an absorbing read.

The Children

The Children, by Charlotte Wood
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book can be purchased from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, by Jackie French

Ethel was right. No one would let them go and nurse in France, not for years and years. But they might just let them do this. And maybe she’d meet soldiers over there who’d fought with Tim, or who knew someone who had. And even if no one knew anything about Tim at all – well, she’d be fighting in the same war as him and Doug. She’d be doing something. Something for King and country!

It’s a long way from New Zealand to England, and sixteen year old Midge Macpherson misses the family farm and her native land desperately, but not as desperately as she misses her twin brother, Tim, who is serving in the war. Stuck in boarding school while Tim and their older brother fight, Midge is desperate to be doing something useful. So when her friend Ethel suggests they got to France and set up a canteen for the soldiers, she readily agrees.

In France, Midge offers cocoa and sandwiches to soldiers off to the front, but as the war moves closer, she finds herself more directly involved in the war. First, the canteen starts to help the thousands of injured men being shipped off to hospital. Then, because of the driving skills she learnt back in New Zealand, Midge is recruited to drive an ambulance. Just like the ‘boys’, Midge experiences first hand the terrible realities of war. And, when it is over, she must face her old life as a much changed person.

A Rose for the ANZAC Boys is a beautifully written tale of three girls’ experience of World War1, and also highlights more broadly the often untold story of the vast numbers of women who fought and served in the war. At the same time, the story explores the toll of war on both men and women. A lengthy author’s note at the end of the book provides background information about World War 1 and about the women who served there.

This is an important story, told through third person narrative and through letters exchanged by various characters. The use of a sixteen year old protagonist will make the story more real and more confronting for teen readers.


A Rose for the Anzac Boys

A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, by Jackie French
Harper Collins, 2008

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Heroes of Tobruk, by David Mulligan

There’s always a moment of almost uncontrollable fear and terror when a patrol comes back and the face you’re looking for isn’t there.

All his life Peter Fullerton has been overshadowed by his older brother, Johnny. So, when war is declared in 1939 and Johnny enlists at Duntroon, Peter feels ignored once again. But Peter and his friend Tony find their own way to contribute to the war. On a whim, the pair put their ages up from sixteen to twenty one and enlist in the army.

Heroes of Tobruk follows the adventures of Peter and his friend from when they enlist in Melbourne, through their training and deployment, and through the rigours of the Siege of Tobruk, as well as the aftermath, using a combination of third person narration and first person diary form, from Peter Fullerton’s perspective. For teen readers, this use of the diary format coupled with the young age of the main character will make this story of a significant part of World War 2 more real for teen readers, brining the message home about the experiences of young Australian soldiers.

Released in time for pre ANZAC day reading, this is an important story for any time of the year.

Heroes of Tobruk, by David Mulligan
Scholastic Press, 2008

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp, by Odo Hirsch

Amelia had been fascinated by the lamp at the top of the stairs from the moment she had been old enough to be fascinated by anything. From the bottom of the stairwell, four storeys below, the lamp didn’t look so big, and it was only when you were at the top that you realised how large it really was. ..The metalwork flowed with intricate patterns and there were hundreds of tiny spaces out of which the light filtered in a wonderful, stippled, hazy glow.

Amelia lives in an unusual house, standing four stories high and filled with her mother’s artworks and her father’s inventions. For Amelia, though, the most special part of the house is the beautiful lamp that hangs outside her bedroom. Amelia thinks that she is the only one who knows the secret of the lamp, but then she meets the Princess Parvin Kha-Douri and realises there are some things she doesn’t know about the lamp – and about people in general.

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp is a whimsical tale with an enchanting cast and intriguing setting. While the characters, setting and events are all fantastical, the message is very real. Author Odo Hirsch has a knack of creating a world which is at once beyond belief yet resonant and absorbing. You want the people to be real, and you want to see the places they can see.

Likely to appeal to readers aged 9 and up.

Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp

Amelia Dee and the Peacocks Lamp, by Odo Hirsch
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dorothy's Rosy Tea Party, by Bruno Bouchet

Dorothy the Dinosaur wakes up full of excitement. Today, Henry the Octopus is coming around for a Rosy Tea party, and she can’t wait. First, though, there’s cake to bake and lots of cleaning to do. When the fairies – Clare, Larissa, Lucia and little Maria – arrive to help, Dorothy is delighted, but in all the fuss, Dorothy forgets to watch the cake, and it burns. Luckily, when Henry arrives, he comes with a gift for Dorothy – a delicious cake.

Dorothy’s Rosy Tea Party is a pretty pink book sure to appeal to little girls, especially fans or Dorothy and her friends, the Wiggles. Timed to coincide with the new Dorothy the Dinosaur television series, the story is beautifully presented with candy striped cover and endpapers, and chains of roses bordering every illustration.

Dorothy’s Tea Party, by Bruno Bouchet and Karen Carter
ABC Books, 2007

I Love to Sing and I Love to Dance, by Anna Walker

Ollie, a gorgeous zebra character, loves to sing. He loves to sing in his chair, and he loves to sing on the stair. As he sings his way through this delightful book, he sings in the rain, the bath and with ducks in the park. Then, in a second book, he shares his love of dancing, which he does with gusto.

This little pair is presented in small format hardcover binding. The size is perfect for toddlers to hold for themselves and the simple, gently rhyming text is also perfect for this age group, who could quickly memorise and ‘read’ it for themselves. Ollie is joined by his dog, Fred, and sometimes by his baby brother as he sings and dances his way through life.

This is illustrator Anna Walker’s debut as an author, though she has previously illustrated other books as well as greeting cards and other projects. Her endearing style both with words and illustration will ensure her ongoing success.

A beautiful pair.

I Love to Sing and I Love to Dance, by Anna Walker
Scholastic Press, 2008