One Minute’s Silence

One Minute's Silence

One Minute’s Silence











One Minute’s Silence

David Metzenthen

Michael Camilleri

Allen & Unwin, 2019

48pp., pbk RRP $A16.99



One minute’s silence is the traditional way of honouring the memory of those who have died, particularly military personnel.  And during that one minute’s silence, we are urged to think about those who have fallen and the sacrifice they have made for their country.  But what do you really think about?  Are you like the bored, disinterested Year 12 students who open this story? Do you think about the feats and fears of our soldiers and what they did?  Do you ever think about what it was like for those on the other side of our bullets and bayonets? For, in this powerful picture book, we are encouraged to do just that, to consider what it was like both for those who made that fateful landing on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915 and those whom they were fighting against.

“In one minute’s silence you can imagine the grinding in your guts as the ironbark bows of the Australian boats bumped the stony shore of Gallipoli on the twenty-fifth of April 1915…when twelve thousand wild colonial boys dashed across the shivering Turkish sand in the pale light of a dairy farmer’s dawn lashed with flying lead.

But can you imagine, in one minute’s silence, lines of young Turkish soldiers from distant villages, hearts hammering, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in trenches cut like wounds…firing on strangers wading through the shallows intent on streaming into the homeland of the Turkish people.”  

This remarkable retelling of the events that  form the focus of the annual commemorations of those eight fateful months in 1915 starts with a picture of that group of senior students who have been asked to observe one minute’s silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – Remembrance Day in Australia. Their expressions of here-we-go-again-we’ve-been-doing-this-for years have been captured perfectly in the pencil strokes of Michael Camilleri and one might wonder what this book has to offer that has not been done before. But then the narration begins and as the events unfold the students are drawn into them, gradually realising the youth and ordinariness of those who were embroiled in this conflict over 100 years ago. These were kids just like them. They can put themselves in the picture, as Camilleri has. However, not only do they see themselves in the Australian uniform, but their attention is also drawn to the youth and the ordinariness of those on the other side and their perspective. They are no longer just a faceless enemy responsible for the deaths and maiming of these students’ bygone family members. The futility of war is apparent…

“In one minute’s silence you can imagine the solitary day when these men without weapons, sharing cigarettes and shovels as they buried their dead in the cool Turkish earth…and the sound of the wind and waves, and quiet talking, replacing the crack, boom and blast of war.

But can you imagine the fierce Anzacs and the fighting Turks quietly returning to their trenches after this one day of truce then firing at each other that afternoon, although they truly knew that the other M.Ed.(TL) were not so much different after all.”

Metzenthen has done a remarkable thing in this story – he has provoked the reader into walking a mile in another man’s shoes; a mile that is thought-provoking and enlightening.  The juxtaposition of the Australian and Turkish experience which really serves to emphasise their similarities is masterful. Camilleri’s illustrations are equally as powerful. The scene is set on the front cover where two boys – one Australian, the other Turkish – eye each other off and every image within is just as potent.   Could there be anything more evocative about death than a double-page spread of a very large fly surrounded by hundreds of its cousins? Unless it’s the picture of men retreating over a hill that has hundreds of bodies beneath their feet? The imagery used to help students understand the difficult concepts surrounding war is outstanding.  Michael Camilleri has provided information about the extraordinary research and thought that underpin each image at 

Teachers notes are available and it is also one of the feature texts in the PETAA Lest We Forget collection for those with membership. Since its original publication in hardback form in 2014, as predicted this book has won a number of prestigious awards including

  • Winner, CBCA Book of the Year, Crichton Award for New Illustrators, 2015, AU
  • Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award – Children’s Fiction, 2015, AU
  • Runner-up, CBCA Picture Book of the Year, 2015, AU
  • Short-listed, The Nib Anzac Centenary Prize for Literature, 2015, AU
  • Short-listed, Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature – Children’s Literature Award, 2016, AU
  • Short-listed, Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards – Children’s Books, 2016, AU
  • Long-listed, CBCA Book of the Year, Eve Pownell Award for Information Books, 2015, AU

This it is an essential addition to any collection of resources about this period in our history.

Originally published November 11 2014

Updated April 1, 2023

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers











Dreaming Soldiers

Catherine Bauer

Shane McGrath

Big Sky, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Jimmy Watson and Johnno Hogan were the best of friends – swimming-in-waterholes, camping-under-the-stars, sharing-water-bottles kind of friends. Throughout their lives they did everything together and even when their paths diverged because there were different rules and expectations for “white” and indigenous children then, they still came back together as close as they had ever been.  And then one day they went into town for supplies, heeded the call for men to fight in a war far away and enlisted…

This could be the story of any number of friendships of the early 20th century when ‘white’ and indigenous kids on farms formed friendships that were blind to colour, cultural differences or any other racial prejudices and its strong focus on that friendship is its positive. While the treatment of indigenous soldiers during the conflicts that Australia has been involved in since the Boer War in 1899 could have been its focus, its power lies in that spotlight on the friendship, the shared adventures and stories, the fears and hopes that are common regardless of skin colour. Teaching notes are available. 

Within the Australian Curriculum, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority is designed for all students to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures, and so this book offers the opportunity to help our younger students understand that despite rules against their enrolment (those not of “substantially European origin” were excluded from enlisting by the Defence Act 1903) and not being recognised as citizens until 1967,their neglect and exclusion on their return, indigenous people have fought for Australia in many overseas conflicts and their contribution has been vital.  Now, each year following the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, there is a special ceremony acknowledging their service. 

Further information, and some of the stories of the estimated 1000 who managed to enlist can be found on the Australian War Memorial site and an internet search will provide links to further valuable resources.


Originally published April 23, 2020

Updated March 2023















Tania McCartney

HarperCollins, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


If you read the entry for Dorothy Wall, creator of Blinky Bill, in the Australian Dictionary of Biographyyou learn, “Dorothy Wall (1894-1942), author and illustrator, was born on 12 January 1894 at Kilbirnie, Wellington, New Zealand, daughter of Charles James William Wall, soldier, and his wife Lillian, née Palethorpe, both English born.”

If you read the new biography by Tania McCartney, creator of Mamie (amongst many others), you learn. “On a frosty day , in a land of long white clouds and snowy peaks , a little girl was born. Her name was Dorothy but her family called her Dorrie.”

If you look at the ADB entry you get a formal photo of the subject…

While the McCartney version is this…


Two different styles for two different audiences, each appropriate for their situations, but Dorrie demonstrating yet again why it is essential that we, as teacher librarians, must continue to offer our students non fiction in accessible, engaging print format. 

As with Mamie, in which McCartney brought to life May Gibbs, the creator of the Gumnut Babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, so too has she created an appealing, readable biography of the author of the Blinky Bill series, focusing on her early life that helped shape the creation of the characters. As a child, Dorrie was  a master creator- singing, Dancing, sewing, making jewellery, designing patterns, painting nature and drawing illustrations, winning scholarships to prestigious art colleges in New Zealand and then migrating to Australia at the outbreak of World War 1. But it is when a cheeky koala appears in a tree outside her window, her world is turned upside down. A fascination and passion for Blinky soon becomes her life work – and not only is  a lifelong friendship born but also a series of stories that remain children’s favourites generations on.  Who hasn’t read The Adventures of Blinky Bill  or seen the television series or movie made from them? 

The little koala in the red overalls is a  literary staple in our children’s lives and this outstanding new biography is an essential addition to the collection because just as Dorrie captured the warmth and beauty of Blinky, his pals and their environment, so has McCartney.  Although in reality, if you continue to read the ADB entry, Wall’s life was not an easy one and she died from pneumonia at a young age, McCartney focuses on the joy and the fun of playing and singing and dancing like no one’s watching.  The final illustration of her books being displayed in an Angus & Robertson window (a company synonymous with books in times past) is perfect – not just for the book itself, but also for this year’s CBCA Book Week them of Read. Grow. Inspire.  Both Wall and McCartney encourage that. 


A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember











A Day to Remember: the Story of ANZAC Day

Jackie French

Mark Wilson

HarperCollins, 2014

pbk; RRP $14.99


April 25, 1915 is a date imprinted on the Australian psyche.  In fact, some say, that despite the political calendar of January 1, 1901, this was the day that Australia became a nation.

Much has been written for students to help them understand the events and the significance of this day, and in a way, this book honours that because after providing an outline of those events on that Turkish beach, author Jackie French and illustrator Mark Wilson trace the commemoration of that day from its shaky, tentative beginnings of parades in Australia, New Zealand and London in 1916 to the huge crowds that now gather annually to honour those who have served their country in this way.  At intervals throughout Australia’s history, French and Wilson pause on April 25 and examine what was happening on that day. We learn about the vast difference between the excitement and anticipation when the troops left in 1914, and their return in 1919; the touching story behind the advent of the Dawn Service and how men only were allowed to attend in case the women’s crying disturbed the silence;  the desperation of many veterans left jobless as drought and the Depression hit; and then Australia is plunged into war again. 

Throughout the book, tribute is paid to all those in the conflicts that Australians have been involved in as well as their peacekeeping roles.  There is the sad reminder that after the Vietnam War which had so divided the nation’s young, so few marched  and watched that perhaps “no one would march at all.”   But awareness was growing behind the scenes through teachers teaching Australia’s history and the recognition of the sacrifices of Australia’s young people through iconic songs like Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and Redgum’s “Only 19.”  In 1985 the Turkish government officially recognised the name  Anzac Cove and in 1990 the first dawn service was held there, attended by those few veterans of the original conflict who were still left to honour.

Being at Anzac Cove for the Dawn Service has become a pilgrimage for many; an item on the bucket list for others. Ceremonies are  held wherever Anzacs have served and suffered and wherever their sacrifice can be acknowledged. Who can imagine what the centenary in 2015 will be like?

IMO, this is Jackie French and Mark Wilson at their best. As the granddaughter of a Gallipoli survivor and the daughter of an ordinary New Zealand soldier who spent his war as a POW in Germany after being captured on Crete, the words and illustrations of this beautiful, haunting book touch me in a way I find hard to describe. Jackie grew up, as I did, “with the battered and weary of World War Two around me, men still scarred in body and mind by Japanese prison camps or the Burma railway, women who had survived concentration camps” and “saw boys of my own generation march away as conscripts, while I marched in anti war demonstrations” and yet we know so little about where Australians have served or how often they have. 

The story of 100 years of history is a difficult one to tell, and even more so in a picture book, yet it is encapsulated perfectly in this partnership. On the one hand, the text could not live without the pictures and vice versa; yet on the other, both media are so perfect within themselves that they stand alone. Jackie and Mark give their own interpretations  in their teachers’ notes I can do no better than that, but if you only have the money for five books this year, this HAS to be one of them.

Lest we forget.

Originally reviewed as a hardback April 16, 2012

Updated February 2023


City of Light

City of Light

City of Light











City of Light

Julia Lawrinson

Heather Potter & Mark Jackson

Wild Dog Books, 2023 

40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


February 20, 1962 and astronaut John Glenn is about to become the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in a spaceship.  From his viewpoint he will be able to see big things, huge things, giant things like the Pyramids, the Amazon, and the Grand Canyon. But how will he see a little boy and a little girl in a little street, in a suburb in a small city like Perth?  There is a way – and he did!

This is a story based on the true story of how Perth turned its lights on to say hello to John Glenn and capture the excitement of one of the first forays into space by humans. It tells of a simpler time when life was very different and such events were huge news, and how the idea of two small children captured the imagination and brought a community together.  

For those of us who remember a time when the world really was a smaller place without television, let alone the internet and a 24/7 news cycle, life was very different and apart from exploring the enormity of this event in itself, readers are also taken back to that time through both the illustrations and the text – the time that their grandparents were children and could have been those kids in the story.  Teachers’ notes offer lots of ideas to compare and contrast the times including imagining how they might signal a spacecraft passing overhead in 2023.   Would  they run around the neighbourhood in an era of phones and text and email? A purposeful way of examining how a specific timeframe and context shape the storytelling.  

But as well as being an account of a real event, it is also a story of hope. Because amid the constant bombardment of overwhelming commentary of climate change, plastic pollution, the cost-of-living and more immediate disasters like the earthquake in Türkiye-Syria, our young readers need to know that they can have ideas and do things that will change big things, even in a small way.  But that small way can grow into something that becomes momentous.  

Lots of potential for lots of exploration of so many topics





Lone Pine

Lone Pine

Lone Pine












Lone Pine (First World War Centenary edition)

Susie Brown & Margaret Warner

Sebastian Ciaffaglione

Little Hare, 2014 

hbk, 32pp., RRP $A24.95



In 1915, on a Turkish hillside a lone pine stood in a barren wasteland above a fierce battle being waged between the Turks and ANZACs, a conflict that has become part of Australia’s history and identity. 

In 1934, a sapling grown from that lone pine was planted in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia’s national capital.

In 2012, and still in 2023,  that tree stands tall in beautiful, lush surroundings in memory and recognition of the events of 1915.


The 80-year-old Lone Pine tree at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra

The 80-year-old Lone Pine tree at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra


Lone Pine is the true story of that journey.  From a soldier looking for his brother, a mother mourning the loss of her son, a gardener understanding both the significance and the vision, a Duke performing a ceremonial duty we learn of how a tiny pine cone from that solitary tree has become such a symbol in our commemorations.  Told in simple prose against a backdrop of muted but magnificent artistry, the story is both moving and haunting.  The soldier’s mother plants three seeds but only two saplings survive, just like her sons; fierce storms batter the sapling the day it is planted at the AWM, just as war clouds started rumbling around Europe once again; it survives to stand tall and strong despite the storms it has to weather, just as our hope for peace does. The continuity of life through the pine tree echoes the seasons and cycles of human life.

Jointly written by a teacher librarian and a teacher, there is a real understanding of how to engage the target audience and tell a true story that is not just a recount of an historical event. Accompanying the story are notes about the events it depicts including more information about the tree itself which  reinforce the theme of the renewal and continuity of life.  As well as the sapling planted at the AWM, its twin was planted as a memorial to the fallen brother in Inverell, and even though this has since been removed because of disease, its son lives on at Inverell High School, planted by the fallen soldier’s nephew.  Two trees propagated from the pine at the AWM were taken to the Gallipoli Peninsula and planted there by a group of ANZACs in 1990.

A search of the Australian War Memorial site offers much more about the tree and its descendants  and teaching notes  take the students well beyond the story of a remarkable tree. 

With the 110th anniversary of both World War I and ANZAC Day drawing closer, the resurgence of the significance of ANZAC Day in the understanding of our young, and a pilgrimage to the Dawn Service at ANZAC Cove becoming a must-do, life-changing event, the story of the lone pine deserves to be better known, and this wonderful book HAS to be a part of any school library’s ANZAC collection.

Original review: April 22, 2014

Updated February 11, 2023

Rocks, Fossils and Formations

Rocks, Fossils and Formations

Rocks, Fossils and Formations











Rocks, Fossils and Formations

Thomas R. H. Woolrych

Anna Madeleine Raupach

CSIRO Publishing, 2023

120pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99


Travel the road between Cooma and Jindabyne in the NSW Snowy Mountains and you will see the most amazing rock formations that are as old as the planet itself.  Go to New Zealand’s South Island and visit the boulders scattered along Moeraki Beach.  Go anywhere in the world and you will discover the most amazing rocks and formations that spark questions such as how old they might be, how did they get there, why are they that colour, shape, texture and could they contain some unknown mineral or fossil treasure?

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

This new publication from CSIRO Publishing is an introduction to geoscience, which uses clues in rocks and the landscape to tell the story of the Earth. It’s a story so old and so fascinating that it’s almost hard to believe – except that the evidence can be seen all around us! It takes readers on a 4.6-billion-year-long time travel adventure to explore rocks, minerals and fossils, meet ancient plants and animals, and discover how the continent of Australia was created!

Beginning with an explanation of what geoscience is, it then navigates a 4.6 billion year history beginning with when the planet was a ball of molten magma exploring the geological timeline , enabling the independent reader who wants more than an introduction or overview be “in the driver’s seat of a time machine” so that there is a better understanding of the continent and its surrounding oceans that support our lives and lifestyles. Big-picture questions are addressed such as 

  • Has our continent always been the way it is today?
  • What is the size and shape of our continent and the surrounding sea floor? What is our continent made of?
  • How old is our continent and when did the different parts of it begin to form? What are the clues that tells us thee things?
  • Why do we live where we live? Why is this town or city here?
  • Does the way that Earth works make it safe to live here?

While it is more for the upper primary/ secondary student, with its accessible text, photographs and diagrams, it is one that will appeal to any reader who has an interest in this subject, perhaps a stepping stone for all those who are deeply inspired by the reign of the dinosaurs and want to know so much more than just the habits and habitats of those creatures and delve into even bigger secrets. Who knows what new careers might be launched! 


Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain












Colonial Settlement: France vs Britain

What If History of Australia (series)

Craig Cormick

Cheri Hughes

Big Sky, 2022

190pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


As the dust begins to settle on the media coverage of the controversy over the date, events and perceptions of Australia Day, as the debate and  vote on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice  referendum  gathers momentum, it will flare up again and again. 

But had Captain Cook not landed here in 1770 and claimed this land for the British, would it have been left untouched by all except the First Nations people until now? What if Captain Cook’s ship sank when it hit the Great Barrier Reef in 1770? And what if the French settled Australia first? And what if King Louis 16th and Napoleon both ended up here, fighting over who was the rightful ruler in exile? And then the British arrived…

This is a new series (the second focuses on the gold rush) that looks at Australia’s history through a different lens, posing those alternative questions that we encourage students to ask as they delve deeper into common topics and start to form their own opinions.  As well as posing the questions, it also explores the possible answers such as what if John Batman’s treaty with the indigenous peoples of what is now Melbourne was legitimate and other treaties were initiated because of it. What if La Perouse had beaten the First Fleet into Port Jackson, would the aristocrats fleeing the French Revolution have settled here, including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

While it is intended as a humorous look at times past, nevertheless it provides a lot of information not usually found in more traditional historical texts, and its value in encouraging our students to pose alternative questions and consider what might occur if there were a different outcome has value across all branches of the curriculum.  If we are to encourage them to be creative and critical learners  then they must have access to model texts that do this.  While it is more for those who are mentally mature enough to put themselves in the shoes of others and consider different points of view, it definitely has a place in both the primary and secondary school libraries. 


Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses












Australia Remembers: Wartime Nurses

Jacqui Halpin

Big Sky, 2022

72pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


For over 100 years Australia’s military nurses have been risking their own lives to save the lives of others. From nursing Gallipoli wounded in Egypt during World War I, to treating injured troops and civilians in modern day Afghanistan, with skill, devotion, and compassion these courageous nurses have cared for the casualties of war.

Australia Remembers 6: Care and Compassion – Wartime Nurses, the sixth in this series, shines a light on the remarkable women, and later men, who have served, and continue to serve Australia and humanity during times of war, conflict and natural disasters. The hardships, dangers and sorrows they faced is made accessible to younger readers and highlights the outstanding contribution of these often-forgotten heroes. With historic photographs, quotes from past and present-day nurses, fascinating facts and medical breakthroughs, questions and fun activities, it provides engaging and informative reading for children, adults and educators.

It ensures Australia’s military nurses will be remembered for the sacrifices they have made, the care they have given, and the lives they have saved with facts and photographs combined in a layout that makes the information readily accessible. Teachers’ notes are available to guide a deeper understanding  of both the text and its subject, making this a valuable addition to any collection that focuses on Australia’s military history and the things we commemorate around Both April 25 and November 11.

Mullumbimby Jack

Mullumbimby Jack

Mullumbimby Jack










Mullumbimby Jack

Damien Rochat

Andrew McIntosh

Little Steps, 2022

28pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


The floodwaters are moving down from Queensland and Mullumbimby Jack and his trusty horse must get to the once-a-year Birdsville races before they do if he is to cash his shearing cheque to enter the race and then win enough money to stake his dream of a life of leisure. But there’s a long way to go and a tough race to ride if he is to achieve his dream….

This is a rollicking yarn that takes young readers back to a different time in Australian history and which will have them cheering on the hero in one breath and then sighing with sadness at the end.  Somewhat reminiscent of some of Banjo Paterson’s fun ballads such as Mulga Bill’s Bicycle, it may even lead them on to that great poet’s writings opening up a vast world of Australian history, its lifetstyles and literature. At the very least they will just enjoy an interlude of good, old-fashioned fun while they dream of what they might do if they were ever to win the lottery…