Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Gallipoli

Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood, illustrated by Annie White (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74362-129-5
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Anzac Day honours the Anzacs who, among other campaigns, fought for a small area of land on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. Written by Kerry Greenwood, Gallipoli tells the story of Bluey and Dusty, close mates who are among the lucky ones to make it home at the end of the campaign. 

This is a well-written and wordy story which explores the issues of bravery, hardship, fear, humour and mateship. With much more text than is usual in a picture book, this is suitable for primary aged children. It includes interesting detail such as Simpson and his donkey Duffy, the Roses of No Man's Land (nurses), and the battles at Gaba Tepe and Lone Pine. 

The writing creates a little distance between the events and the reader. The story is more about what happens than a more personal account:

In between the fighting, an unexpected bond began amongst the exhausted enemies. They worked together to bury the dead and swapped gifts instead of gunfire.   The diggers offered bully beef, and the Turks gave fruit and sweets in return.

The emotion is in the pictures. Annie White's illustrations are watercolour, unusually soft and gentle for depictions of war. And it is the people who dominate these illustrations. Here, human emotions are beautifully expressed and shine strongly through. As well as full paged illustrations, White has painted sepia photographs, complete with photo corners, which run throughout the story, creating a feeling of a personal photograph album. These begin inside the front cover and continue all the way to the end pages where more recent photos of family round out a life story.


Between the text and the illustrations, a story of Aussie mateship, humour and stoicism is portrayed, making this a tale of Australians at Gallipoli with memories which can be shared with younger children as well as older.    

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