'Over the past two decades children’s picture books dealing with the Australian experience during the First World War have sought to balance a number of thematic imperatives. The increasingly sentimentalised construct of the Australian soldier as a victim of trauma, the challenge of providing a moral lesson that reflects both modern ideological assumptions and the historical record, and the traditional use of Australian war literature as an exercise in nation building have all exerted an influence on the literary output of a range of authors and illustrators. The number of publications over this period is proof of the enduring fascination with war as a topic as well as the widespread acceptance that this conflict has been profoundly significant in shaping Australian public and political culture and perceptions about national character and identity (Beaumont, 1995, p. xvii). As MacCallum-Stewart (2007, p. 177) argues, authors and illustrators must therefore balance notions of ‘respect’ for a national foundation myth with a ‘pity of war’ approach that reflects modern attitudes to conflict. Whatever their ideological commitment, many authors and illustrators respond to this challenge by adopting an approach that serves to indoctrinate readers into the Anzac tradition (Anzac refers to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps raised for war in 1914. It has become a generic term for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. The Anzac tradition established at Gallipoli, Australia’s first major military campaign, has been traditionally viewed as the nation’s founding.'
Source: Publication blurb.
'With the centenary of World War I (WWI) commemorative events taking place, Australia’s involvement in this conflict is popularly seen as inextricably linked to a definitive national identity. Numerous children’s books have been published that represent events from WWI. Eight such picture books, aimed at primary school students and published post-2010, are selected for analysis. This analysis comes at a time when there is significant attention being paid by governments, community organisations, media outlets and the general public to the anniversary of WWI. Therefore, it is timely to analyse representations of this conflict, particularly to understand contemporary representations aimed at children.'
In anticipation of the commemorations around the centenary of World War 1 (2014-2018) this chapter examines the ways in which war and its effects have been represented in picture books for children. It looks at the ways in which these picture books create “textual monuments” as points of reference through which younger generations can “develop a narrative of the past” and “explore different points of view”.