Posts Tagged ‘NZ History WW1’

The Telegram by Philippa Werry

February 10, 2019 Comments off

telegramThe Telegram by Philippa Werry. Pub. Pipi Press, 2019. .

During WW1 the last thing the people at home wanted to see was a telegram boy or girl coming to their door. If you had a son, a brother a father or a husband at war then a telegram meant missing in action, dead in battle or taken prisoner.

Beaty is a 14 year old girl who lives with her younger sister Tilly and their mother who works every hour to keep the family going. When mother loses hours at work Beaty, in spite of academic abilities, is pulled out of school and gets a job as a telegram girl.

She faces all sorts of bullying for being a girl doing a boys job but proves them all wrong and even learns some skills that the boys struggle with.

When the boy next door, Caleb, goes to war, he asks Beaty to write to him and she does. Their letters describe life back here in NZ and heavily censored impressions of life in the trenches in the last year of WW1 after Passchendaele. It also continues into the Flu Epidemic that followed the soldiers home. Excellent historical fiction.

Beaty is a treasure and good role model. Philippa Werry describes life at home with knowledge and accuracy in this very readible novel for primary, secondary and high school student.

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.

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Night of the Riot by Matt Elliott.

October 11, 2017 Comments off

night riotNight of the Riot by Matt Elliott. Pub. Salisbury Books Birkenhead, 2017.

A well written novel about a true event in Whanganui just after the outbreak of World War 1, the catastrophe of Gallipoli and the sinking of the Lusitania. Told from the point of view of a 12 year old farm boy Snow Goodison who was working for a German immigrant named Konrad Schmidt during these events.

New Zealanders often say with confidence after an overseas tragedy that “it couldn’t happen here”. The people of Whanganui thought the same and young Snow thought the same. A riot in the main street in which several businesses where wrecked and looted including that NZ icon Hallensteins, destroyed all that.

Told in three parts in which Part 1 is a fascinating outline of life in small town New Zealand before and during WW1 when cars were rare, transport was on horseback or Shank’s pony and domestic life was physically hard work.

Snow is an admirable character, brave, loyal, hard working and most of all honest. He faces bullying behaviour with courage, but will everybody see it that way?

Read it and find out. For primary, intermediate and junior secondary students.