Book Review: Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry

This book is shortlisted in the Non-fiction section of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It is available in bookstores nationwide.

Philippa Werry is a children’s author who cv_anzac_day_the_new_zealand_storyhas written a number of books, and has been shortlisted for several awards and prizes including The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2009, for her historical novel Enemy at the Gate. Philippa lives in Wellington and participates in the Writers in Schools programme.

The acronym A.N.Z.A.C or as it was previously known A. & N.Z.A.C was chosen when they combined into one new army corps in Egypt − The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Egypt was where the New Zealand Expeditionary Force had set up its base. A New Zealander, Sergeant Keith Little, working at staff headquarters in Egypt made up an ink stamp with these initials which he called the ANZAC stamp.

The very first ANZAC Day services were held in 1916 to commemorate the Gallipoli landings of 25 April 1915. The First World War was called the Great War because people thought no other war could be as bad.

ANZAC day has been a very important day to thousands of New Zealanders over many generations. Philippa Werry also takes a look at the history of ANZAC day and how it has been commemorated through the decades. Memorials have been built in many small towns and cities throughout New Zealand and Australia. We find out, in this book, why the ANZAC tradition matters so much and about how the tradition of a dawn service first started.

This book is a fascinating read, further enriched when I found a photograph taken beside a memorial at Lion Rock at Piha (a West Coast beach in Auckland) of the Auckland Tramping Club, as club members gathered for an ANZAC day service in 1931. Both of my parents were active members of the tramping club at that time – they would have both been in their early 20’s and were probably there. I spotted one of my mother’s closest friends Vi Sheffield in this photograph, which was a wonderful surprise.

This book is aimed at children 5–12 years of age, but for older children and even adults, this could be used as a tool to foster more research into the subject. Technology that is available today, means that a huge amount of information is now available on-line.

It is encouraging to find that even our 3-year-old granddaughter who attends a day-care here in Auckland was asked to commemorate ANZAC Day. A note went home to the parents, requesting that the children wear red clothing on the Thursday, because of ANZAC day falling on a Friday this year. An explanation aimed at her age level was given of the significance of ANZAC.

We also took her to a service at our local seaside village – a service now held outside under shelter, because the numbers of people attending has outgrown the local RSA hall.

Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story
by Philippa Werry
Published by New Holland Books
ISBN 9781869663803

1 thought on “Book Review: Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry

  1. Pingback: Book Review: My New Zealand Story: Harbour Bridge Auckland 1958-59 by Philippa Werry |

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