My favourite Anzac novels

In my other Anzac posts I’ve highlighted some great new Anzac books from New Zealand authors.  In my last Anzac post I want to tell you about a couple of my favourite Anzac books, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson and A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French.

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson

What would you do if the ghosts of World War Two were stuck inside your head and wouldn’t leave you alone?  Paddy is an ordinary New Zealand kid who becomes obsessed with a book that he gets from the library about the wrecks of warships sunk in World War Two at Guadalcanal.  This book is special – the ghosts of men who were killed in these battles are trapped inside and they want everyone to remember why they died.  The ghosts call out to Paddy but only he can hear their voices.  Whose voices are they and why are they reaching out to him?  The ghosts tell him he has to ask his grandfather about the battle at Guadalcanal, but his grandfather has never talked about the war so how will Paddy get him to tell him his story?

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound is a fantastic and unique book about the horrors of war and how it affects people.  The ghosts of the war talking to Paddy is a really interesting way to tell the story and Sandy Nelson makes you really care about what happens to the characters.  This is now one of my favourite war stories. Sandy Nelson joined us on the Christchurch Kids Blog in 2011 to talk about her book and the research she did before writing her story.  Her posts are really interesting and well worth checking out.

A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French

The ′War to end all Wars′, as seen through the eyes of three young women

It is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge′s brothers are in the army, and her twin, Tim, is listed as ′missing′ in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli .

Desperate to do their bit – and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society – Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls – and their Anzac boys as well – discover that even going ′home′ can be both strange and wonderful.

Exhaustively researched but written with the lightest of touches, this is Jackie French at her very best.

The reason I love A Rose for the Anzac Boys is because it tells history from a female perspective.  In this case it tells the stories of a group of Australian girls who travel to France to do what they can for the war effort.  Jackie French is an amazing writer and she always tells a good story. Jackie also provides detailed historical notes at the end of the book so you can see how historically accurate her story is.

  • I’m currently reading David Hill’s My Brother’s War and Ken Catran’s Earth Dragon, Fire Hare, both of which are shortlisted in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  I’m sure I will be able to add these two to my list of favourite Anzac stories too.
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3 Comments

Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, history, New Zealand, war, young adult, young adult fiction

3 responses to “My favourite Anzac novels

  1. great reviews I’m going to have to read a couple of these

  2. I agree with you – A Rose for the Anzac Boys is one of my favourite war stories – especially as you say because it is from that rare point of view, the female perspective. I always recommend it to kids who love reading about war because it doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to describing how awful and life changing WWI fighting really was.

  3. Sandy Nelson

    Zac,
    Thanks so much for stating again how much you like my book. You have made my day! Keeping motivated to write can be difficult as it’s hard to get writing published, and to believe that I can actually put words together in ways that work. But maybe it’s time I started spending less time with my head in a book and more time back at the computer. I do have other war stories in my head – it seems to be something I like thinking and writing about. Being a teacher and teaching about ANZAC Day and the wars is probably part of that. I am so impressed with the attitude of our young people towards war. They are so respectful of the sacrificies made and so aware of the importance of peace. You might like to have a look at my classes blog Zac (search Twizel Area School Room 4). We have posted some photos of our poppy paintings and our ANZAC stories too.
    I also really like A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, also an old favourite from my childhood The Silver Sword which I am currently reading my class. And many of the Micheal Morpurgo titles that are on your bookshelf are also on mine!
    Take care out there, all book lovers
    Sandy Nelson
    Twizel (part-time writer, school teacher, mother, lover of history and mountains and our beautiful country)

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