Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lest we forget by Kerry Brown illustrated by Isobel Knowles and Benjamin Portas

Every week I visit a veteran in an aged care facility not far from my home.  His name is Bert and he was working as a solider when WWII began.  At the end of the war (he served in Darwin and PNG) the men were told not to talk about their experiences and so Bert does not talk about this experience in any detail but he has a voracious interest in WWI and especially the pacific campaign of WWII.

Bert met his wife while he was training other soldiers in Newcastle, north of Sydney, and this week they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.  All those years mean both of them have enormous stores of memory.

Lest We forget is about memories.  I shared this book with a Grade 3 teacher just prior to Remembrance Day November 11 and she found it was an excellent way to link this important commemoration with the experiences of young children.  While we do have many titles which classes can use for ANZAC Day we do not have so many books which explicitly mention Remembrance Day.

 "In 1997, Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11 November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts."   (from the teacher notes by Elaine Smith)

One of the most powerful parts of this book is the use of textless pages to tell the story of the young soldier. As he leaves in his smart new uniform it is clear his young wife is expecting a baby.  Moving over two scenes we see a letter has arrived with a photo of the new baby and perhaps significantly she is not a new born.  There are so many discussion points for this one page.

There are 27 pages of teaching notes available which give you excellent strategies for using this important book with a class.   Here is another set of notes with additional activities.

I discovered this book by accident.  I had arranged to meet a friend at a local shopping mall.  Just before we met she had found this book in a discount department store.  Luckily she showed it to me and so I was able to pick up a copy for our school library.

Here is a review from the Sydney Morning Herald.

My ganddad says there are two types of days:
those you want to remember and those you want to forget

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