From the Trenches: The Best Anzac Writing of World War One, edited by Mark Dapin

Under a grey October sky
The little squads that drill
Click arms and legs mechanically,
Emptied of ragged will!

Of ragged will that frets the sky
From crags just ragged Pines,
a wayward immortality,
That flies from Death’s trim lines. (Walter J Turner)

Many books have been written about the experiences of Australians and New Zealanders at war, but From the Trenches offers a book now just about those who served, but also written by them, in the form of a collection of writings from World War One. Including poetry, letters, diary entries and recounts, the books serves as a reminder of the very human face of the war, its toll on those who fought and served, and its impact on all Australians and New Zealanders.

Grouped chronologically and geographically from the time of joining up, to Gallipoli, the Middle East and Western Front and beyond, to epitaphs and the time beyond returning home, the writings range from the intensely personal, to the reportage of the facts and even to humour. Readers could choose to read the book cover to cover, but equally could dip into readings.

Suitable for history buffs, lovers of literature and more, From the Trenches offers a touching, accessible insight into the times.


Book Cover:  From the Trenches: the best ANZAC writing of World War One

From the Trenches: The Best ANZAC Writing of World War One, edited by Mark Dapin
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670077816

Available from good bookstores and online.

Redcap's Christmas, by Susan Cason & Ben Wood

Redcap strides along the path to the snow goose airstrip. He’s on his way!
He practices what he’ll say when he gets there. ‘Hi, I’m Redcap. I’m the son of Twist and Tippy-toe. I’m hard-working and honest. I’m clever and cheerful.’ He smiles his biggest smile. ‘And I’m looking for a job.’
The job he’s dreamed of for weeks and months and years.
The job.
In the workshop.
At the North Pole.
Working with the greatest elf of them all.

Redcap is a hard working young elf who wants nothing more than to work at the North Pole and to meet the greatest elf of them all – Santa Claus. Getting a job doesn’t prove too hard – but keeping it might prove more than a little difficult, especially with the kind of help his new friend Jellybean has to offer. There’s a week to go until Christmas and it seems that every day has a new challenge for Redcap and the other elves. Will he keep his job and get to meet Santa?

Redcap’s Christmas is a delightful Christmas offering for young readers, following Redcap’s adventures in the lead up to Christmas. Each chapter is a new adventure, seeing a new problem arise at Santa’s workshop, with Redcap playing the leading role in coming up with a solution. Although suitable for solo reading, it is easy to see this being read aloud one chapter per night as a pre-Christmas treat.

Illustrations are a mix of grey scale images on most pages, with one full page coloured illustration at the beginning of each chapter, and the hardcover format makes for a sturdy offering, perfect for a gift.


Redcap’s Christmas, by Susan Cason & Ben Wood
Omnibus, 2013
ISBN 9781742990217

Available from good bookstores and online.

Davy and the Duckling, by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas

When the baby duck hatched, the first thing it saw was Davy.
It fluffed its feathers – and started following Davy everywhere.
Around the farmyard,
under the apple trees
and all the way home.

When Dad tells Davy that the duckling thinks he’s its mother, Davy decides that’s just what he’ll be. He makes a nest for it, takes it for its first swim and cares for it. Davy and the duck are together throughout their lives.

Davy and the Duckling is a gentle, moving tale about the love between a child and his unlikely pet. As Davy grows, so too does the duck, there for all the highs and lows of Davy’s life, from losing a friend, to finishing highschool, and even to marrying . The duck ages and becomes fragile, but their friendship remains strong, and the bond is strengthened when Davy becomes a father, and the duck appears to think it is Molly’s mother.

A beautiful cycle of life story, Davy and the Duckling is brought to life with the gentle but lively illustrative work of Julie Vivas.



Book Cover:  Davy and the Duckling

Davy and the Duckling, by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670075614

Available from good bookstores and online.

Four Books compiled by Peter Durkin & illustrated by Peter Viska

Granfer Grig
Had a pig
In a field of clover.
The pig he died.
Granfer cried,
And all the fun was over.

Kids love rhyme, and kids love silliness. These four little books offer a blend of the two in a combination sure to get them giggling, reading aloud and turning pages enthusiastically. Each book is forty-eight pages of rhymes long and short illustrated in colour by Peter Viska. There are rude bits, gross bits and even slightly shocking bits, and the cartoon style illustrations bring each rhyme to life.

Likely to please primary aged readers, these would be a popular addition to school libraries.

Stay Cool April Fool!
In Your Eye Meat Pie!
Hang Loose Mother Goose!
Take a Stroll Sausage Roll!
All compiled by Peter Durkin and illustrated by Peter Visa
Alicat Publishing, 2013

Enoch the Emu, by Gordon Winch & Doreen Gristwood

Enoch looked at the eggs
as Wilhelmina disappeared down the track.
“HUH!” he said. What a fuss about
a little bit of egg sitting!”

Enoch the Emu is good at kicking, eating, strutting and hanging out with his mates at the Emu Club, but he is not good at doing his bit around the nest. When his wife Wilhelmina gets sick of looking after the eggs she has laid, she decides to leave. Now Enoch must look after the eggs. At first he thinks it will be easy, but as the weeks drag by he realises just how hard it is. Still, when the eggs hatch he is as proud as can be – and can’t wait to show off his chicks to his mates at the club.

Enoch the Emu is a classic picture book, first published in 1984 and newly rereleased. A fun, fictional story, it is based on the fact that it is the male emu who sits on the eggs laid by the female and then raises the chicks. The illustrations are gently whimsical, with lots of little details for youngsters to spot and enjoy

A timeless treasure, it is wonderful to see Enoch the Emu back in print.


Enoch the Emu, by Gordon Winch & Doreen Gristwood
Scholastic Australia 2013
ISBN 9781742838717

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Little Fairy Sister, by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbry Outhwaite

“Nancy!” said Bridget suddenly, and as she said she sat bolt upright. Her eyes had been closed the moment before, and when she had opened them she had seen a most exquisitely-dressed little girl standing by the hammock on tip-toe looking down upon her. It was extraordinary, but she was sure, perfectly certain, it must have been Nancy.

Once Bridget had a sister. But when they were very young, Nancy ailed, and, Bridget’s mother tells her, went back to live in the Country of Fairies. Bridget loves this story and longs to meet her sister and visit the land of fairies. One magical afternoon Nancy comes to visit and takes her on an adventure with the fairies.

The Little Fairy Sister is a classic children’s book, newly re-released by the National Library of Australia from an early edition of the book. Whilst the story may not be known to all readers, many will be visually familiar with Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s fairy paintings which have been used in books, on murals, in advertising materials and on galleries since the 1920s.

Whilst the story may be a little dated – particularly the euphemistic handling of the death of a sibling – it is also both charming and enlightening as a sample of the literature of its time. Outhwaite’s illustrations are reproduced in a mixture of full colour and black and white, and the book is a sturdy hardcover with colour slip case. An enchanting offering for the lover of fairies, art and classic children’s books.


The Little Fairy Sister

The Little Fairy Sister, by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenbry Outhwaite
This edition NLA, 2013
ISBN 9780642277725

Available from good bookstores or online.

In Great Spirits: The WW1 Diary of Archie Barwick

28th October 1916.
Oh a soldier’s life is a beauty in such weather but as soon as we get back into dry billets we forget all the hardships. It’ powerful in what good spirits the boys keep. They laugh and joke over it all, as if it was the fun of the world.

Archibald Albert Barwick was 24 years old when war broke out in 1914 and he joined the AIF. Leaving his job as manager of a sheep property in NSW, he trained with the expeditionary force in the 1st Battalion and travelled first to Egypt, then Gallipoli and later the Western Front. Along the way he rose to the rank of Sergeant, was injured three times and was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Significantly, he also wrote prolifically, filling sixteen diaries over the course of the war, detailing his experiences and insights.

In Great Spirits: The WWI Diary of Archie Barwick offers Barwick’s diary to contemporary readers. Condensed from the initial 400 000 words to around 130 000 words in order to make it manageable, the writing is otherwise only lightly edited, so that the sense of Barwick’s personality shines through, managing to be humorous, honest and heart-wrenching by turns, so that the reader can journey with him in a very personal way.

Of interest to historians of all levels, this is also a valuable read for any Australian to get first hand insight into Australia’s involvement in World War 1 and its impact.


In Great Spirits: Archie Barwick's WWI Diary - from Gallipoli to the By Archie Barwick

In Great Spirits: The WWI Diary of Archie Barwick
Harper Collins, 2013
ISBN 9780732297183

Available from good bookstores or online.

Ted, by Leila Rudge

Ted had been at the pet shop for as long as he could remember.
He was a smart dog with his own jumper,
and he did his best to make a good impression.
But there were so many other dogs that nobody noticed Ted.

Ted is a little dog with a big problem. he doesn’t belong – and belonging is what he most wants. So he sets off to find the perfect place. He tries the circus, but everybody cheers the circus dogs and nobody notices Ted. Similarly, Ted doesn’t succeed as a pageant dog or a guard dog. Dejected, he is about to head back to the pet store when he comes across Dot, who is looking for a furry friend who enjoys long walks and ball games. Ted does his best to get noticed by Dot – and succeeds.

Ted is an adorable picture book story about an adorable dog. He may not be suitable for any of the roles he tries, but he is a dog who will win the hearts of young, and not-so-young readers. The illustrations, using pencil and ink with touches of paper collage, have a gentle whimsy to them, with lots of detail for readers to explore and discover.

Perfect for young animal lovers.


Ted, by Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2013
ISBN 9781921977503

Available from good booksellers or online.

The Inevitability of Stars, by Kathryn R. Lyster

Sahara turns, her waist-length hair flying wildly in the breeze that’s starting to pick up. You don’t get it.
Get what?

Get me, she says. You’re so happy to have this mediocre life, Rip, and sometimes I just want to scream at the thought of spending the rest of my life here.
What’s wrong with here?

Rip and Sahara have been friends all of their life, from childhood playmates to high school lovers. But after school they don’t want the same things. Rip wants to settle here forever, but Sahara wants to follow her dreams of being an artist, and to see the world beyond Byron.

Rip struggles to cope without Sahara, and with the memories of losing his mother. In Sydney, Sahara ones her craft and makes new friends. When she meets the rich and charismatic Sean, she seems to have the life that she wanted. But as Rip struggles to recover, Sahara’s glamorous life starts to fall apart. It’s too late for her and Rip to help each other, isn’t it?

The Inevitability of Stars is an evocative, poignant tale of love, life and recovery. Set in Byron Bay and Sydney, with elements of mysticism, this is a hard to classify book because it deals with so much. Part romance, part coming of age, part self discovery – the list goes on. Mostly, though, it is a beautiful book which will have wide appeal to older teens as well as adults.



The Inevitability Of Stars

The Inevitability of Stars, by Kathryn R. Lyster
Harlequin Mira, 2013
ISBN 9781743560495

Available from good bookstores or online. Read a sample of the book here.

A Fortunate Life, by A.B. Facey (Australian Children's Classics Edition)

I had a problem now – I had to ride the pony. I was frightened – although I was big for my age I was still under nine years old. Bob took the saddle on the pony, then helped me into it and I grabbed the front of the saddle and held on. Then Bob put the saddle on his horse and trotted it around in a circle to show me how to rise to a trot. I got the idea of this, but not before I had fallen off several times, to the amusement of Uncle, Aunt, Grandma and the other kids.

Whilst his introduction to a working life may have seemed humorous to those looking on, Albert Facey’s experience being sent away to work at the age of nine was just one episode in a an often sad and frightening childhood. His father had died soon after his birth and his mother had abandoned her children to their grandmother’s care. From the events which brought the Facey family to Western Australia, through his childhood years and onto adulthood, Facey shares his tale in a down to earth manner.

Since it was first published in 1981, A Fortunate Life has captivated readers of all ages. Now released in condensed form as part of Penguin’s new Australian Children’s Classics series, the story is accessible to junior readers, offering them an insight to life in rural Western Australia in the early years of the twentieth century.

The hardcover format with embellished cover makes this a delightful collector’s edition.

A Fortunate Life (Australian Children's Classics)Book Cover: A Fortunate Life: Australian Children's Classics

A Fortunate Life , by A. B. Facey
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670076895

Available from good bookstores or here .