Thursday, June 5, 2014

A picture book about three lads during the war

Best Mates by Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr, New Holland

It’s in picture book format but it’s definitely aimed at school children  - the publishers say 5 to 12, which I think is about right. It’s not suitable for pre-schoolers. As for fiction or non-fiction, it is fiction strongly based on fact. As a librarian, I would see it being of most use to teachers and students in the non-fiction collection.

Philippa is well-known for her excellent historical novels - this is her first picture book story. It’s a simple but moving account of three friends signing up and going off to have a big adventure - and ending up at Gallipoli. One of them doesn’t make it home. Much later, two elderly gentlemen travel to Turkey to lay poppies on Harry’s grave.

Illustrator Bob Kerr is well-known for his picture book work, especially his award-winning After the War published by Mallinson Rendel in 2000. (I kept my review copy, because in those days there were hardly any children’s books with war as a theme). Bob has visited Gallipoli, so his rendition of the jagged and desolate landscape is a true one. His calm and uncluttered style works well with the understated tone of the story. The events must speak for themselves. At the back of the book there’s a double spread with factual information about the Anzacs at Gallipoli, as well as a map and photos. Strongly recommended for school and public libraries.
Philippa Werry recently travelled to Gallipoli to participate in centenary celebrations - read her blog here.
For Teaching Notes go here.
For more war books go here.
ISBN 978 1 86966 411 4 $19.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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