Philippa Werry’s Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story: What it is and why it matters, has just been announced as a Non-Fiction finalist of the 2014 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards. The same title also received a 2014 Storylines Notable Book Award, so it is very obvious that the author knows her stuff when it comes to Anzac day.
Best Mates: Three lads who went to war together, is her first picture book, and it really drives home to readers the reason for remembering the events of this day each year.
Harry, Joe, and the narrator are best mates who grow up together, and fight at Gallipoli together. The book shows the experience through the eyes of someone naïve and excited for an adventure, who ends up in the middle of a devastating war. It is a touching story, and while it remains age appropriate, it doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war.
Having been to Gallipoli myself, I was impressed with the accuracy of the pictures. It turns out that illustrator Bob Kerr has been there too, and it is easy to tell that it has influenced the realistic portrayal of the landscape. A huge amount of extra details has gone into the images too – on one page the trio are seen reading a copy of The Maoriland Worker, which was a New Zealand newspaper in publication at the time.
The back of the book has a doublepage spread on Gallipoli, and Anzac Day, which is a great tie in to add a little more information. Suitable for ages five and up, Best Mates: Three lads who went to war together is a great way to help children connect with Anzac Day, and to really understand the meaning behind it.