Topic: Librarians Selection: Remembering World War One

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World War I (1914-1918) was a defining moment in New Zealand's history and its effects continue to be felt today. As we commemorate 100 years since the First World War or the Great War, the amount of books and resources being produced has increased. This list is not meant to be definitive, but rather a selection of books that Tauranga City Librarians have appreciated.

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Picture Books:

Best mates: Three lads who went to war together by Philippa Werry: The school mates leave New Zealand together to fight at Gallipoli. Landing first in Egypt, they travel by ship to Anzac Cove and dig into trenches to fight the Turkish troops holding the Gallipoli peninsula.

Caesar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud: Trained by the Red Cross, Caesar the bulldog helped rescue wounded troops during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Caesar was killed in action.

Jim's Letters by Glyn Harper: Two brothers are separated by the First World War. One writes about life on the farm, whilst the other writes from Egypt and then from the trenches of Gallipoli.

In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen: The story of a young homesick World War I soldier who risks his life to cross the no-man’s-land to try and rescue a robin caught in the barbed wire that separates the opposing forces.

Le Quesnoy: The Story of the Town New Zealand Saved by Glyn Harper: Le Quesnoy is a town in northern France surrounded by high walls and deep trenches. In World War 1 it was occupied by the German army for four long years. In November 1918 the town was liberated by soldiers from far-away New Zealand.

The ANZAC Puppy by Peter Millett: The story of Sam and his dalmation, Freda, the dog mascot of the New Zealand Rifles during World War 1. Both puppy and soldier endure the hardships of trench life and grow into adulthood together.

The Bantam and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck: The story of 'the smallest bantam' on a French farm, abandoned as the war gets closer, and farmer’s son Arthur 'from a country on the other side of the world'. Arthur cares for the struggling bantam and her resilience gives the soldiers courage and hope.

The Donkey Man by Glyn Harper: Based on the real life heroics of New Zealand soldier Richard Henderson and his faithful partner Roly the donkey, The Donkey Man shows the war from Roly's point of view as he carries the wounded and sick away from the front. This book was republished in 2015 as Roly: The Anzac Donkey.

The Eels of ANZAC Bridge by Ali Foster: The story of Private Arthur Braddick, who later lost his life on the Western Front during World War I told in parallel with the life journeys of the long-finned eels that inhabit the Makakahi River and other local streams, and their journey to the warm undersea trenches near the islands of Tonga where they breed and then die (the baby eels then making their way back through the ocean to the rivers of New Zealand). The real Anzac Bridge was erected after World War I north of Mount Bruce and still stands today.

The Red Poppy by David HillJim waits in the trenches of the Western Front for the order to attack the enemy. With him are his friends, and Nipper, a small black messenger dog. When they charge across no-man's land, Jim is shot and also comes face to face with Karl, a wounded German soldier.

Childrens Fiction:

1914: Riding Into War by Susan Brocker: 17-year-old Billy Bowman signs up with his best mate Jack and their horses. Leaving their horses behind in Egypt, they are sent to Gallipoli after the first landings. There they take park in the horrific battle of Chunuk Bair in August 1915. The horror of trench warfare is far removed from the big adventure Jack and his mates thought it would be.  

Brave Bess and the ANZAC horses by Susan BrockerOver 3,700 horses and troopers of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR) were sent to serve in the Middle East during World War I. Bess was the only horse to return to New Zealand. 

My Brother's War by David HillStarting in 1917 New Zealand this is the story of two brothers who disagree about World War I (1914-1918). The 1916 Conscription Law has been passed and they both have to make decisions on where they stand. Older brother, William, is not conscripted but enlists anyway out of patriotism whilst younger brother, Edmund, stands up for his beliefs and declares he is a conscientious objector. 

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne: On his fifth birthday Alfie Summerfield discovers that his father is going off to war and will return when the war is over, before Christmas - but which Christmas? Four years pass and his mother explains that his father is on a secret mission, but Alfie believes he is dead. A chance meeting with a doctor reveals that his father might just be in a nearby hospital.

The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha by Michael ForemanOn 6 May 1915, 21-year-old seaman Henry Friston rejoined his battleship after ten days in Gallipoli. He had gone without food or sleep for three days. Whilst ferrying the wounded from the battlefield in the midst of the bombardments, he met an unlikely companion – a tortoise. He called it Ali Pasha and resolved this was one innocent life that would not be a victim of a stupid war.

Teen Fiction:

A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French16-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson's older brother Dougie, and twin brother Tim, both enlisted in World War I (1914-1918) and Tim has been posted as missing. Midge and her friends have had enough of sitting around, Her friend's father agrees to supply them with cocoa and other necessities as they hatch a plan to set up a canteen at a train station in France. They will help cater for the hundreds and thousands soldiers heading out to the front line as well as the wounded on their way back to medical care.

Jacko Moran: Sniper by Ken CatranIt's 1940. Reflecting from his death bed in Wellington Hospital, 25 years after the end of World War I, Jacko is suffering the effects of mustard gas, hard living and the nightmares that continue to haunt him. 

Loyal Creatures by Morris GleitzmanFarm horse Daisy and her 16-year-old owner Will are sent from the Australian outback to the gruelling Middle Eastern campaign of the First World War.

When our Jack went to War by Sandy McKay: It's 1916 and three years into the Great War when Jack enlists. His younger brother, thirteen-year-old Tom, is at first envious, but soon changes his mind as the reality of war becomes more apparent through the letters Jack sends home. Tom writes to Jack about life at home in New Zealand, while in turn Jack writes of his first-hand experience in Trentham, the troop ship, Britain, France, the Battle of Messines and finally, Passchendaele.

Adult Fiction:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueSchoolboy turned soldier Paul Bäumer experiences the psychological and physical effects of the war whilst the soldiers around him are decimated. When the Nazi's came to power in 1933 this became one of the first 'degenerate' books to be publicly burnt on the orders of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels. 



Childrens Non-Fiction:

Anzac Day, the New Zealand story, what it is and why it matters by Philippa WerryTeaching a new generation about the sacrifices made by New Zealand men and women, from the Gallipoli Campaign and right through the Great War. Explores the relevance of Anzac Day today, identifies important memorials around New Zealand, examines the national anthem, the tradition of Anzac biscuits and the Last Post, Reveille music, and more. 

Nice Day for a War by Chris Slane: 18-year-old Cyril from rural New Zealand lies about his age and heads off to fight in World War One. At first he and his mates are full of excitement, but then they encounter Flanders trenches and the horrors of the Western front [Graphic Novel].

War Heroes by Susan Brocker: A brief introduction to some ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary situations during World War One and Two. Brocker has distilled the information on each person down into an enjoyable easy to read format. Included is a contents page, an introduction, a glossary and an author’s note. A very useful book for both school projects and leisure reading.

Teen Non-Fiction:

From Tauranga to the Trenches by Fiona KeanRich with photographs and memorabilia, the book also contains excerpts from letters and diaries written by Tauranga men serving overseas. The time period ranges from the declaration of war on 4 August 1914 through to serving overseas, the Influenza Pandemic, peace celebrations, British war brides, return to normal life and Tauranga's Memorial Gates.

Adult Non-Fiction:

Images of War: New Zealand and the First World War in photographs by Glyn Harper: Many kitbag's of the Kiwi soldier included a portable camera, known as 'The Soldiers' Kodak'. This combination of official war photographs and more informal images provide a visual history of World War I.

Letters from Gallipoli : New Zealand soldiers write home by Glyn HarperThis collection provides a firsthand account of the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915. Grouped in chronological order, the letters are from all arms and branches of the New Zealand army including nurses, doctors, chaplains, and Red Cross helpers. 

Postcards from the trenches by Andrew Roberts:  An interesting overview of the sorts of postcards available from the First World War. Some are quite brutal and graphic. I couldn't image them being sent home from the front lines - others are quite humorous.

The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul FussellTries to summarise the impact of the war on writers imaginations – from poetry to novels -  and how the war is therefore perceived by those who did not experience it. Great introduction to all the main war memoirists.

Voices of Gallipoli by Maurice ShadboltAppears to be the first time somebody spoke to Gallipoli veterans about the nature of their experiences on the Peninsula. Although there is a suggestion he has ‘novelised’ the outcomes of his interviews so that they have a better storyline, you do get a strong sense of a unique New Zealand experience of an appalling campaign.

We Will Not Cease by Archibald Baxter: In 1915, when he was 33, conscientious objector Baxter was arrested, sent to prison, then shipped under guard to Europe, where he was forced to the front line against his will. Punished to the limits of his physical and mental endurance, Baxter was stripped of all dignity, beaten, starved, and left for dead. See also: "It's your submission we want, Baxter!' Archibald Baxter's We Will Not Cease: The Autobiography of a Conscientious Objector by Rod Edmond (Journal of New Zealand Literature, 2015, Volume 33, No. 2, pp. 142-159 - Issue 2 of No. 33 contains poems, music and other essays on the subject of World War I).

Zeppelin Nights: London in the First World War by Jerry White: The first page of the first chapter of this book has, quite by chance, a Tauranga connection: Hilda Hewlett, who later emigrated to Tauranga and gave her name to Hewletts Road, was the first woman in Britain to gain a pilot’s licence. However, her exploits in a motor car were not so creditable and she received a fine for dangerous driving at a London demonstration in 1914. So, if you think what went on in London in WWI was far removed from New Zealand, think again. Many New Zealand soldiers were to find themselves on leave in what they then considered the centre of the civilised world. English women who married Anzacs brought stories of wartime London with them when they went to New Zealand with their new husbands. And the changes that the war brought to London, which included more employment opportunities for women, were to affect the whole world.

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Librarians Selection: Remembering World War One