Meet ... the ANZACS.
Title: Meet... the ANZACS
Author: Claire Saxby
Illustrator: Max Berry
Publisher: Random House Australia, 2014
In the Meet... picture book series, the Anzacs exudes a calm, pastel and informative prelude to the renowned horror of Gallipoli for Australian soldiers. It is a captivating and thought-provoking picture book that shares honestly information around the lives of Australians who were recruited, transported and trained as ANZACs--an acronym synonymous with bravery and mateship.
Meet ... the ANZACS sequentially describes the events leading up to Australia's involvement in World War 1. Imagine the excitement of volunteering to fight for your nation overseas, the pride of selection, the harshness of training, enjoyment of rewards followed by a celebratory departure overseas; but then, the rigid routine, boredom, frustration, anticipation and fear--these are the emotions of war.
This quality picture book confronts the stark reality of war as it evolved, for Australia, from 1914 when England declared war on Germany. The initial part of this book is set in Australia and describes the changing scenes of cities and country preparing for war with excitement and hope. The story then travels overseas, crossing the equator into famous places with a proudly Australian attitude. Soldiers appear as vulnerable players in the game of World War 1.
This sequenced story has an honest flow of description of every day events. The oil paint illustrations are scenic and informative, captivating the reader in each phase of the soldiers' journey. The text looks as though it has come straight from an old fashioned typewriter which creates old world appeal and historical respectfulness. The author carefully and effectively uses direct speech of soldiers and observers to share insights into the genuine thoughts of individuals during war times.
The final sentence, 'War was like nothing they could have imagined,' is followed by a stark timeline of true events and outcomes from 1914 to 1918, an incredibly effective way of evoking an emotive response in readers. In the final scene, soldiers are about to confront the enemy and readers are left with a feeling of helplessness, futility and despair.
Claire Saxby's Meet ... the ANZACS appeals to students of various ages and would be a valuable resource to enhance Anzac Day discussion and learning. This engaging and visually appealing picture book promotes awareness of events, shares views and arouses emotions. Readers in the middle phase of schooling will gain true insight and understanding of this memorable time in Australian history.
Random House Australia provides resources for teachers at: http://www.randomhouse.com.au/ content/teachers/anzacs.pdf
Gaye Lovelock is Principal of Chill ago e State School in Far North Queensland. Chillagoe is a remote town west of Cairns that respectfully commemorates ANZAC Day each year. The whole community, including school students, courteously acknowledge the service and commitment of individuals and show respect to local families who experienced personal loss during war.