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Archive for the ‘War’ Category

The Hill of Memory by Peter Attwell.

December 23, 2018 Comments off

hill memoryThe Hill of Memory by Peter Attwell. Pub Mente Corde Manu Publishing, 2018

This novel about the 1913 Wellington Waterfront strike for Young Adults and Adults is possibly one of the most moving historical accounts I have ever read.

Johnnie Hargreaves and his mate Joe Halifax live through the bitterly contested waterfront strike and attend some of the demonstrations in which “specials” and farmers from the country on horse back, charged into strikers battering them with clubs.

The Waterfront Union wanted more surety of employment for their members and better conditions of work and the employers backed by the Massey Government wanted the status quo and went to brutal lengths to keep it that way.

The conflict broadened to be a battle of workers v bosses, townies v country and the haves v the have nots. The haves took the view that the strikers were trying to take away everything they possessed and held dear. The era of false news had begun long before Trump.

The story is simply told from the boys point of view and like the Springbok Tour of 1981 this strike divided families and communities and amidst it all came an incident involving Johnnie and Joe that neither of them was to forget for the whole of their lives. Read it and find out what it is.

This novel will have wide appeal for boys but girls shouldn’t hold back. There is a tragic story of romance involving Johnnie’s sister Hettie, a suffragette supporter and Ned the older socialist brother of Joe.

The novel continues into the outbreak of WW1 and the fate of the participants of the 1913 strike. Totally fascinating.

Contact for book information to mente.corde.manu@gmail.com

When Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan.

October 25, 2018 Comments off

dad came homeWhen Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan. Pub. Oratia Books, 2018.

RELEASED 8 NOVEMBER

When the guns fell silent in World war 1 for many the war didn’t end. The noise, the trauma and the inhumanity of war stayed with them in their heads.

Rita and Thomas wait eagerly for their dad to come home. They are apprehensive as they see other dads come home with wounds and scars. They wonder what their dad will be like. Will he laugh and joke and carry them for piggy back rides?

They soon find out. Their dad is shell shocked. Noise upsets him. Rather than tiptoe round him they sing their favourite song when working with him or in his presence. It works and dad is soon recovering.

A heart warming story brilliantly illustrated by Rosie Colligan. She captures the faces of hope, of despair, of pain, of sadness and eventually of joy.

A beautiful story for everyone.

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

September 4, 2018 Comments off

turnkeyThe Turnkey by Allison Rushby. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This award winning novel from Australia is a delight to read. It has a believable plot, interesting characters and is written in a style that is reminiscent of old style writing.

Set during the Blitz in world War 2 it pits the twilight world of the dead against a Nazi plot to win the war.

Flossie Birdwhistle died of rhumatic fever when she was twelve, now she is the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery responsible for looking after the needs of the dead. She is in the twilight world and can function in the world of the living but cannot be seen or heard.

During a bombing raid of London she sees a Nazi officer on top of St PaulsĀ  and realises he too is of the twilight world. He clutches a bright skull in his hands and when he sees Flossie he vanishes.

What is the meaning of the skull. Is Viktor Brun, the Nazi officer, spying for the Nazis? Can he communicate with the living? and is Highgate cemetery and the other six cemeteries of London involved in a Nazi plot to win the war?

The beginning of each short chapter announces what is going on in the chapter and there are hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you reading. The tension in the plot is spellbinding and the ending is gripping.

For confident junior readers and intermediate readers. Check it out you will be moved.

The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illus. Rebecca Cobb.

May 25, 2018 Comments off

day war cameThe Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illus. Rebecca Cobb. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is one of the most powerful and moving picture books I have ever read and you will be moved too.

It is narrated by a little girl who wears the same clothes from beginning to end. It starts with family happiness around the breakfast table, moves to school where the little girl is learning about volcanoes, drawing birds and singing about tadpoles turning into frogs.

Then the war comes in a devastating series of images that has the little girls home and town bombed to the stone age. Her journey to a safe haven follows but the war comes with her in her mind and in the attitudes of the people she encounters.

She is eventually refused entry to a school because there isn’t a chair for her, but as is usually the case children come to the rescue. Read it and find out how.

Rebecca Cobb’s illustrations are stunning especially the coming of the war, helicopters in the sky, the bomb crater of the little girls home. Then on the journey away lonely shoes on the beach.

The written text will make you cry. The repeated school scene is powerful.

Superb.

ANZAC Animals by Maria Gill, illus. Marco Ivancic.

April 17, 2018 Comments off

ANZAC AnimalsANZAC Animals by Maria Gill, illus. Marco Ivancic. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

This inspirational, carefully researched and brilliantly illustrated story of animals who had an impact during the 1st and 2nd World Wars is a timely reminder of how war affected peoples lives with ANZAC Day just over a week away.

Many animals went to war, many are known about, particularly dogs, horses, mules and donkeys with an estimated 1 million dogs and 8 million horses, donkeys and mules killed in WW1. Many of their stories are in this fine publication but many other animals were also and remarkably involved.

Kangaroos, Torty the tortoise, Monkeys and cats were often mascots or companions and then there is Lulu the chicken. Read her story it is amazing. Pigeons were often used when other communication sources were out of action or inappropriate. In fact pigeons were awarded the Victoria Cross. Don’t believe me? Read this book and find out.

Marco Ivancic’s illustrations give life and drama to the text and original photographs and maps of battle scenarios increase the knowledge of past wars.

Kids love animals and this publication is a great way to get them involved in history.

Kiwis at War: 1918, Broken Poppies by Des Hunt.

March 18, 2018 Comments off

broken poppiesKiwis at War: 1918, Broken Poppies by Des Hunt. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

The final part of the Kiwis at War series is as good as all the others with an emphasis on the final battles of the war including Passchendaele, the German push after the deal with the Russians and the Armistice.

Des Hunt has focused on some of the more humane aspects of the conflict that were so easily overshadowed by the horrors of battle, the incompetent decision making and lack of compassion shown by the masters and officers who directed the war. The ordinary soldier was treated like truck loads of sheep going to the slaughter house.

There is war horror in this novel too, the rain, the mud, the trench rot, the fear, the shell shock, the noise, the bombs, the mangled bodies and minds and the killing.

It is the fate of a little fox terrier named Poppy who was lost by a little French girl called Zoe as she and her family were retreating from a German advance that is at the crux of the novel. Found by Henry Hunt a relative of the author, Poppy’s adventures will send chills up your backbone and bring you to tears of happiness.

Narrated in chronological countdown till the end of the war from August 1917 to November 1918, there is also a few photographs in the back plus a timeline and glossary.

Don’t miss this one and read the whole series also reviewed on this blog. For readers from intermediate age through to young adults. Des hunt knows how to tell a story.

Bobby the Littlest War Hero by Glyn Harper, illus. Jenny Cooper.

March 6, 2018 Comments off

bobbyBobby the Littlest War Hero by Glyn Harper, illus. Jenny Cooper. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

Of all the animals that have assisted man during wartime, Bobby the canary, has to be the smallest.

This is about the part Bobby played for the miners who tunneled under the lines of German soldiers during the 1st World war. Bobby was used to detect gas, set up in his cage with clipped toes so that he would fall off his perch when gas was around. He saved many lives, reluctantly I would guess, and was brought back to life seven times.

This extraordinary tale is beautifully told and illustrated by the experienced and perceptive team of Harper and Cooper. The text is powerfully understated and the illustrations show the humanity and inhumanity of war at the same time.

Come ANZAC Day everybody will be reading this story. One to remember. The perfect war story for children.