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Starke, Ruth (text) Greg Holfield (illus.): An Anzac Tale.

** STARKE, Ruth (text) Greg Holfield (illus.) An Anzac Tale Working Title Press, 2013 72pp $29.95 ISBN 9781921504532 SCIS 1594192


This is a remarkable book. It could have been a chauvinistic catastrophe as the centenary of Gallipoli approaches, and the nationalistic feelings around this event give rise to cliches and exaggerations. This book has been meticulously researched, and many of the images sourced through the Australian War Memorial. It is a comic book, in muted ink-wash colours, and the Australian characters are drawn as kangaroos, sometimes koalas or cockatoos. Wally and Roy abandon their farms and family to do the right thing in August 1914, enlisting to fight for Empire against the Kaiser.

In a series of dramatic panels that show the desperation of the soldiers and the extremes of their conditions, we follow these two through the campaign on the peninsula above Anzac Cove. These Australians even went swimming down at the beach, where snipers could fire on them if they wished. At one stage a thousand sick and wounded soldiers were being evacuated daily. In all, 8000 died before the landing was abandoned. The comic-book treatment is superb throughout, moody, documentary, detailed and dramatic.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the Anzac story is the admiration Australians direct to the Turks who fought at least as desperately and valiantly as the Australians. It was a costly and nightmarish way to arrive at this recognition of each other's courage and character At the back of the book are more detailed notes on the sources for images and background to some aspects of the narrative. This is an excellent introductory text for any primary school student wanting to know what 'Anzac' and 'Gallipoli' mean. 8 to 13 years.

** Book by an Australian author or illustrator

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Author:Brophy, Kevin
Publication:Reading Time
Article Type:Book review
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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