13 Apr 2012

Anzac Day Picture Books - updated

I first wrote this list of picture books for Anzac Day back in 2010, and it has become one of my most visited posts.

Since then a few more great books have been published, helping us to explain to our children about the day when Australians stop to remember those who died that we might be free. I've added these books here, and updated the lists. All of the books are available from the Readings links, I believe.

Lest We Forget.

A Day to Remember - The Story of Anzac Day by Jackie French is the story of Anzac Day through the years, beginning with the very first Anzac Day in 1915 and continuing right up to the current day...and beyond. Written by Jackie French, who many will recognise as an author of many excellent living Australian history books, this beautifully illustrated book does a terrific job of explaining that while we remember the soldiers who died, we do not glorify the fighting.

One for older children, Jemimah raised many interesting questions after we read this book.

Lone Pine by Susie Brown and Margaret Warner

A magnificently illustrated book, this story for younger children tells the story of the Lone Pine at the War Memorial in Canberra. The pine - a descendant from the sole remaining pine on the ridge near the Anzac trenches in the Gallipoli campaign - was sent home as a pine cone by a young soldier, Benjamin Smith, to his mother in NSW. When Benjamin"s younger brother, Mark is killed during the fighting, his mother plants the seeds. Two trees survive. One of them commemorates Mark's life, as well as the lives of all young Australian soldiers taken too young.

The Red Poppy by David Hill

The story of young New Zealander, soldier, Jim McLeod, fighting the Germans on the Western Front in France where the red poppies that are now synonymous with Remembrance Day grow.When the allies charge across no-man's-land, Jim is shot ...and finds himself trapped in a deep shell hole face to face with an enemy soldier. And there, with them in the hole, is the red poppy, symbolising hope...and friendship.

The Red Poppy also comes with a CD of the song ‘Little Red Poppy’ written by Canadian Rob Kennedy. It was after hearing this song that David Hill was inspired to write this story.

Do Not Forget Australia by Sally Murphy and Sonia Kretschmar

Another one about the war on the Western Front, this book tells the story of the bond between France and Australia formed on the battlefields of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918. More that 2000 soldiers are buried in the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, including 770 Australians.

I went to visit the Memorial in 1985, and the appreciation that the local people had for us as Aussies was heart warming. They have certainly never forgotten Australia. Strangely enough, though, the story of the war that was fought here, and the contributions made by Australians, is little known here at home. This delightful story of two young boys - one in Melbourne, and the other in France - will go some way towards changing that.

Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer and Brian Harrison-Lever

Photographs in the Mud by Diane Wolfer, beautifully illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever. This book tells the stories, side by side, of Aussie soldier Jim and Japanese soldier Hoshi, both sent to fight on New Guinea's notorious Kododa Trail. Though fighting on opposing sides, it doesn't take long for us to realise that these men's stories are both the same.

Then the two soldiers meet. And fight...

There is no romanticising of war in this story. I thoroughly recommend this one.

My Mother's Eyes by Mark Wilson

The story of William, a sixteen year old boy who lies about his age in order to enlist for the War to End All Wars.

Twenty three teenage soldiers fought in World War I, and those that paid the ultimate price, like William, are listed on the Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour.

You'll shed a tear over this one.

My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy.

I blogged about this book here. It is my pick of Anzac Day books for kids 4-8.

This is what I wrote about it then:

In the story, Anzac Day is seen through the eyes of a young girl who rises early on Anzac Day to watch her grandad march in the Anzac Day parade. She shares her day in a realistic way, and Jemimah can easily relate to the little girl and her experiences. She can also relate to the little girl's grandad. She can sense his pride. She can also begin to understand a little about the thousands of man and women who didn't make it home.

My grandad marches...to remember them.

I thoroughly recommend this book. It is one of our family's favourites. It also started our ANZAC Day hot chocolate tradition!!
I cried when I read this one as well.

Anzac Day Parade by New Zealanders, Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen is a new one to me.

It is a story in rhyme of war through the eyes of a former member of the 18th Battalion. An elderly veteran tells a young boy not of the glories of war and death; but the reality of war as he remembers it.

This one is on my list...

Simpson and his Donkey by Mark Greenwood

This is an excellent retelling of the classic story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey, Duffy,and how the pair rescued over 300 men over only 24 days during the campaign at Gallipoli.

The little known story of how he rescues the playmate of his childhood is also told in this book.

Read The Book Chook's review of this one here.

Memorial by Gary Crew

Down by the war memorial monument in the main street of our small country town are two oak trees planted by the ex-servicemen on their return from war. They commemorate the men who died in the Two World Wars.

Lest We Forget.

Our trees are badly stressed by the long drought, but they are lovingly tended by the Council gardeners and they show pleasing signs of regeneration. I love our trees.

There is a tree planted by the war memorial monument in the small country town that the young lad that narrates Memorial lives in as well. His was planted when Old Pa came home from Ypres in 1918. Only his tree is causing grief. It is big and unruly. It is lifting the bitumen and drops seeds on cars. It obscures the traffic lights and it is knocking the statue over. It is a traffic hazard.

And now they want to cut the tree down.

Angel of Kokoda by Mark Wilson

Kari's teacher at the mission school house on the banks of the Kusumi River, Sister Mary, has disappeared. A message in her music box suggests to Kari that he might find her at Kokoda.

But Kari doesn't find his teacher, he finds soldiers - Australian soldiers covered in mud and wearing big hats.

"You see Sister Mary?" he asks. "Sorry Mate," is the reply from a young Aussie.

Suddenly a huge bomb rips through the quiet jungle. A battle rages and the Australians retreat. As they leave Kari comes across his friend lying wounded in a ditch.

Together they make the perilous journey to safety along the Kokoda Track. The young Australian thinks he has seen an angel. A Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel.

During the Pacific War of World War II, the Kokoda Track was the site of terrible battles between the Imperial Japanese Army and the Allied troops. The New Guinean villagers who assisted the troops became known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. This is the story of one of them.

Yep - cried in this one as well.

Why are they marching, Daddy? by Di Burke

Written to explain the traditions of Anzac Day to children as young as four, this book is the work of the wonderful Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland.

Madi is watching the parade with her father. "Why are they marching, Daddy?" she asks. Madi's father tells his daughter the story of Anzac.

He talks about war too: "Is war bad?" asks Madi... Daddy answers by talking about the good and bad. The reasons and the consequences. He talks about freedom. This little book addresses the big issues simply and clearly. It's a great book to talk about what we are commemorating on the 25th April every year.

The House that Was Built in a Day - Anzac Cottage by Valeria Everett

Arise, arise, Anzac Cottage is to be built today!
The true story of the community of Mount Hawthorn in Western Australia, who united to build a house that would serve as both a home for a wounded soldier, and a memorial to the Anzac landings.

When the town crier awoke the suburb at 3.30 am on the 12th February 1916, hundreds of men responded to the call. They set out working from sun-up to sun-down, in a race against the clock, to build the cottage in a single day.


  1. Great to see so many titles about this special day in our history. It is good that as we (Australia) gets older more and more home grown authhors are recording their stories and our history. Much more available now than when my older ones were born.
    Have a good weekend, Jeanne. I am off to a family celebration. Looking forward to it.

  2. Thank you so much Jeanne for revising this :-). I will be ordering a few new books tomorrow from your list and hopefully they will make it in time for Anzac Day. We've really enjoyed all those we've read so far.

  3. Jeanne

    Thank you SO much for sharing:) I just reserved everything my library had from your titles and a few more too:)
    some more books to add to your list
    oh and I crated a unit on ww1 way back
    I wanted one from the Aussie point of view.

  4. I cried just reading the descriptions.

    A book for adults or older teens (I had my son do it as part of Sonlight 300 Modern History): The Broken Years,by Bill Gammage. He uses over 1000 diary and letter entries to show how the soldiers' perceptions of war changed over time- from a glorious adventure to a nightmare which consisted of keeping your mates alive. Very moving and very well done.

    Jackie French has a few books- one with a girl protagonist which I didn't use for my son but have in mind for my daughters. Umm, looking it up-
    I think it was "A Rose for the Anzac Boys". From memory, she has a few set then?

    My father never marched. It was too painful for him. I wonder how many more men were like that? I think my boys would like to march now that he's died.


  5. Hi Pam!

    There are some great chapter books. I haven't heard of Gammage's book, though.

  6. Thanks for the updated list! I ordered a stack of the se a couple of years ago after Amber pointed me at your post. It's good to see some reads for older kids:-)

  7. Like Pam, none of the men in my family who fought ever marched. And with a son in the military the ones I truly admire are the men & women working tirelessly for peace. The stories I really like are the ones that talk of the times of peace forged in the war zones.

    Actually the subject is pretty much taboo in our house these days as there is a great divide. lol

  8. What a wonderful collection of resources - for parents and teachers. I'm sending this link through a few networks, and appreciate your effort in compiling this list. (I linked to you here; http://eschoolblogs.org.au/reading/2012/04/21/anzacs-and-war - if you want to follow up with your own comment - or see what books others are recommending, Jeanne.)

  9. I will keep this in mind for next year :)

  10. We have many of these - thank you for your recommendations!

    How do you NOT cry reading many of these books. I'm hopeless.


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