Sick of adverts? Click here to join up for free and be rid of them.
ANZAC soldiers huddle in their dugouts, sheltering for a moment in this place so far from home. In the midst of the fighting, the music of a violin swirls around the weary men, shifting their thoughts back to summer picnics and happier times.
This is a true story set in World War 1. Alexander Aitken from Otago entertained the soldiers in the shadow of the pyramids in Cairo and in dusty ditches during the battles in Gallipoli. Whenever he went off to fight, fellow soldiers kept his violin safe for him. But when he left it behind to join the battle of the Somme, he was sure he would never see it again.
Mr Eight and his mother both thought this was a truly beautiful production. It has a hard cover so should last for a long time, which makes sense as I imagine the whole family will read it in turn - although it is intended for a young audience, it will appeal just as much to older readers. Personally, I found it a compelling story and have already read it from cover to cover several times over. And I am a lot older than Mr Eight and, come to think of it, his mother as well!
The idea of telling a war story through the eyes of a soldier with a particular passion - in this case, his music - is not a new one, but most of these stories are designed for older readers. This book includes plenty of graphics, both archival photos and facsimiles, and Belton's original watercolours which recreate the wartime events in muted hues. Alexander Aitken, the owner of the "Anzac Violin", was a real person, and the violin's adventures really happened.
Mr Eight was fascinated by the descriptions of shipboard life and he thought the idea of having some live entertainment made complete sense. He is old enough to understand that people did not always have electronic devices and sound recordings to provide the entertainment, and as a budding musician himself he knows just how much fun is to be had from playing a tune on an instrument. He is learning to play the piano, and can also play the ukulele and guitar a little bit.
Many of the place names listed inside Alexander's violin case will be familiar to anyone who is conversant with the history of the Great War (now more commonly known as World War 1). There is a list of these names reproduced on the front endpaper of the book, and they include titles celebrated in songs from this era - Armentieres, Marseille and Suez, to name but three. The book's title derives from the acronym ANZAC, or Australia and New Zealand Army Corps - the soldiers from these two countries who fought in the Great War. Because the violin belonged to an ANZAC soldier, its name immediately links it to Alexander or someone just like him.
Presenting history in this way is a wonderful way to inspire youngsters to learn more about their heritage. Mr Eight has read several books set in this time period now, and is becoming quite knowledgeable about various aspects of life and customs in the earlier part of the 20th century. Many of the details in the drawings pick up on the text, helping the reader to visualise what life might have been like for a soldier in the trenches and to empathise with him. What a great way to learn social history!
Random listing from 'Books'...
David is soon to turn 16. He is a talented rugby player, but rugby is losing its appeal and he decides to give it up, much to the disappointment of his Dad and coach. Theo is just slightly older and is new to town, staying with his grandmother while his mother is overseas. The boys become firm friends and it is not long before they realise there is more to their friendship.
First published in 1994, 'The Blue Lawn' is a compassionate ... more...
All trademarks, images and copyrights on this site are owned by their respective companies.
KIWIreviews is an independent entity, part of the ePLURIBUS.nz Network. This is a free public forum presenting user opinions on selected products, and as such the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinion of KIWIreviews.co.nz and are protected under New Zealand law by the "Honest Opinion" clause of the Defamation Act of 1992. KIWIreviews accepts no liability for statements made on this site, under the assumption that they are the true and honest opinions of the individual posters. In most cases, prices and dates stated are approximate and should be considered as only guidelines.
"Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is not enough?"