Anzac Day, Book reviews by Rebecca

Book Review – The Promise: The Town that Never Forgets

The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets/N’oublions jamais l’Australie by Derek Guille, ill. Kaff-eine, translated by Anne-Sophie Biguet, ISBN 9780987313959, One Day Hill

A review copy was provided by the publisher

The Promise (cover)

At the end of World War I Australian soldiers were sent to regain the French village Villers-Bretonneux which Germany had invaded and occupied. After two terrible battles, Australian soldiers took the village back on 25 April 1918. When the war ended, the villagers began to rebuild and school children from Victoria in Australia raised money to help rebuild the school. The villagers of Villers-Bretonneux promised never to forget Australia and how the Australian soldiers helped the town.

This picture book came about following a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tour to Europe. The book tells the story of the grandson of one of the soldiers who fought at Villers-Bretonneux — the grandson played the trumpet in MSO and formed a band of twelve musicians he called the Melbourne Villers-Bretonneux Brass Ensemble. The ensemble visited Villers-Bretoneux and the school there, and played at the foot of the war memorial. The performance was emotional for the villagers and for the Australian performers, too.

This story belongs to two countries and is told in two languages. On each page, the story is told in English at the top half of the page with the French translation at the bottom half. The illustrations by street-artist Kaff-eine are simple and striking.

Another great book to add to your Anzac-themed bookshelf.

© April 2013 “Review of The Promise: The Town That Never Forgets” by Rebecca Newman (

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Anzac Day, Book reviews by Rebecca, teachers' resources

Book Review: Light Horse Boy

Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer, ill. Brian Simmonds, ISBN 9781922089137, Fremantle Press

A review copy of this book was provided by Fremantle Press

Light Horse Boy (cover)

Lighthouse Girl (cover)This new picture book was recently launched in time for Anzac Day — Light Horse Boy is a companion book to Lighthouse Girl and both are worth buying (or borrowing — ask for them at your library).

When war is declared on Germany in 1914, Jim and his best mate, Charlie, decide to sign up for the war. Jim is not quite old enough to sign up but he lies about his age. When he resigns from his job to go to war, Jim’s boss gives him a horse called Breaker, instead of his wages. Jim and Charlie think joining the Light Horse Regiment is a bit of an adventure and that the war will be over in a few months. But they quickly discover how terrible life on the frontline really is.

Light Horse Boy is based on historical events, though the characters are fictional. (On the first page, the author explains that the characters were created “after researching the records and diaries of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who served in the ‘Great War'”.)

Jim’s story is told as a narrative with charcoal illustrations, and the book includes copies of his letters and telegrams to his sister Alice. Readers are taken back in time with old photographs, maps, and newspaper clippings.

Reading Jim’s letters is like reading letters from someone you know (your own brother, or a friend).  Through Jim’s eyes we see how war affected young Australian soldiers and their horses serving in World War I, and how hard it was for friends and family left behind.

Highly recommended.

© April 2013 “Review of Light Horse Boy” by Rebecca Newman (


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