First up is a great book called Solder in the Yellow Socks by Janice Marriott about New Zealand's double Victoria Cross winner Charles Upham and his deeds during World War II. I love this book, as it combines chapter and pictures, by illustrator Bruce Potter, to tell the story. It is full of wonderful new interest words, and I have used it as a reading book with my class with lots of great learning. Last time we even exchanged emails with the author to find out about how she wrote the book.
Grandad's Medals is written by Tracy Duncan and illustrated by Bruce Potter (who does beautiful illustrations). A lovely, touching story about a young boy and his Grandad. It talks about his relationship with Grandad and how Grandad marches on Anzac Day with his set of medals. The young boy is noticing that there are fewer of his Grandad's mates marching this year.
Set on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in World War II, Photographs in the Mud by Dianne Wolfer has beautiful pictures. This is a story of an Australian soldier and a Japanese soldier lying injured together sharing photos and memories of their families back home. It may bring a tear to your eye.
The book, Wartime Memories, is in an old fashioned magazine style and has lots of tidbits about life during World War II in New Zealand and at the battlefields.
The Donkey Man, by Glyn Harper, is a great book to capture the children's attention about the contribution of animals in the battle field. I have used this book with a reading group previously. You can find out more by looking at the post I have published previously.
I've also used Nicolas Brasch's book Gallipoli Reckless Valour with a reading group. It is well set out with wonderful photos, maps and copies of posters and advertising from World War I.
My Marine is written by Phyllis Johnston about when the US Marines came to her community during WWII when she was a child. She became jealous of her sister going to the local dances with the Marines and wanted a Marine of her own. We've just finished reading the book Black Boots and Buttonhooks as a shared novel by Phyllis about her mother, May, as a child, so my class was amazed to find the link that May was the mother in this story.
This book, A Day to Remember, goes back to the first Anzac rememberance ceremony after the Gallipoli campaign and how Anzac Day has been commemorated in the years since. Jackie French has included parts of the ceremony such as the piece from the poem For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon, which my students recognised as they read the book because we used it for Poem of the Week. Mark Wilson's illustrations are poignant.
Animals have been an important part of battlefield events throughout history. Only a Donkey demonstrates animals paying tribute to their peers on the battlefield. Celeste Walters writes from the point of view of the animals. Patricia Mullins creates wonderful illustrations.
A little girl's father is away at war and she makes Anzac Biscuits for him. Phil Cummings, the author of Anzac Biscuits, writes the experience of making the biscuits in tandem with the experience of being in the trenches. The muted pictures by Owen Swan bring a gravity to the father's situation, but highlight the innocence of childhood.
Le Quesnoy - The story of the town New Zealand saved is also written by Glyn Harper. It is beautifully illustrated and tells the tale of one of the final actions of WWI when New Zealand soldiers liberated the French town of Le Quesnoy from the German army. Jenny Coopers simple, colourful pictures bring to life the experiences of the soldiers of both sides and the towns people.
This is the story written by Feana Tu'akoi of an Anzac Day through the eyes of young Tyson who doesn't understand why Mum and Poppa would want to celebrate anything as stupid as war at the Dawn Parade. Lest We Forget brings to life the tandem extremes of why we remember: the futility of war verses the honouring of sacrifice by brave (and scared) men. Elspeth Alix Batt's haunting illustrations of the Dawn Service contrast with the warmness of the family home.
This is a great reference book for primary school students on the facts of Gallipoli. The Anzacs at Gallipoli has lots of good photos in it, clear headings and little side bars of information. Some of the photos are confronting, but are presented in an understated way. It also sets out each of the major battles that happened during the campaign.
Anzac Day Parade by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen is based on a veteran of Crete talking with a young boy about the aerial invasion of German para-troops and the battle that followed. The language is colloquial and in short, haunting passages. The illustrations are a mixture of the present time and the old veteran's memories.
Caesar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud is beautifully illustrated by Bruce Potter. It is a great picture book for older primary school students as there is a lot of text on each page, but can be shared with younger students over several days. It tells the story of one of our more heroic animals who went to war and did his part to help the soldiers.
Philippa Werry wrote Anzac Day the New Zealand Story so that students could have a one stop book on what happened at Gallipoli, the Western Front, why we have Anzac Day and how we commemorate it in New Zealand. It covers the people the places, cenotaph, where the idea of poppies come from, the origins of the word 'digger', relevant websites, things to do, paintings, poems, abstracts from diaries and letters, photos....
Written by David Hill (My Brother's War, Brave Company) and illustrated by Fifi Coston (I remember her doing arty crafty stuff on tv after school when I was a kid!), this gorgeous, touching book, The Red Poppy, also includes a CD with a song called Little Red Poppy by Rob Kennedy. This story is about a young soldier, Jim, possibly his first time in the trenches, getting ready to go over the top in an attack. He is wounded and ends up in a shell crater with a wounded German soldier, Karl, and they are found by Nipper the messenger dog.
Don't forget about other great books such as The Bantam and the Soldier and Lotte: the Gallipoli Nurse as well. The My Story collection also has some brilliant novels for the independent readers of the older students.