Review Blog

Feb 23 2015

You wouldn't want to be in the trenches in World War One by Alex Woolf

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David Antram. Book House, 2014. ISBN 9781909645226
(Age: Yr 5+) Subtitled A hole you'd rather not be in this is an ideal introduction for younger students to World War I. The reader is given the persona of one Tommy Atkins, an underage but enthusiastic English lad determined to do his bit for King and Country and then in a chatty commentary which is filled with facts and accompanied by appealing cartoon-esque illustrations is led through the process from joining up to training to being in the trenches on the Western Front. Life in the trenches is exposed for what it was - rats and lice, bully beef, bread and biscuits, cold and wet and being under fire.
While remaining factually true the presentation is one that tells what happened but without the gory bits, the parts that we as adults know but kids don't have to yet. For example, Tommy is wounded at Messines but the next part is about being back in England with family. Scattered throughout are handy hints such as "To detect enemy tunnelling, drive a stick into the ground and hold the other end between teeth to feel any vibrations."
This is an ideal addition to your WWI/ANZAC collection, just right for the reader who wants to know what happened but for whom fiction doesn't appeal. While the guide suggests this as suitable for Yrs 5-8, a mature Yr3+ reader with an interest in the topic would handle it well.
For an extensive list of texts to help primary students understand ANZAC, Gallipoli and World War I you might like to check out my Pinterest board Remembering Gallipoli I've gathered over 200 resources.
Barbara Braxton

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