The Water Bottle by Philippa Werry, illustrated by Burak Akbay
The Water Bottle brings together a New Zealand writer, Philippa Werry, and a Turkish illustrator, Burak Akbay, to collaborate on a new picture book that shows the everlasting connection between these two countries.
Telling the story of the Gallipoli attack, but with both sides telling their own version, the story revolves around the importance of a drink bottle that our main character Derya carries with them when they move from Turkey to New Zealand.
As it turns out, at school one of the boys in Derya’s class has a great-great-uncle that fought at Gallipoli, and so did Derya’s great-grandfather. Together the two start to unravel their own version of events.
They find out about the invasion by the British and ANZAC soldiers and how they were so close at some points that each side could hear the other talking at night.
But the real hero of the story is the drink bottle. Water at Gallipoli was in very short supply, but that did not stop an ANZAC soldier giving Derya’s great-grandfather his own bottle when he was laying hurt on the battlefield. It is that drink bottle that kept him alive, and that same drink bottle that helps Derya connect with her new environment in a whole new country.
Beautifully illustrated, the story is a complex and enlightening story of the connection between Turkey and New Zealand and both demonstrates the ANZAC spirit, and educates children about important aspects from our past. It’s a timeless, and vital story.
Reviewer: Chris Reed