'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 11 March 2010

Review: Angel of Kokoda

Title: Angel of Kokoda

Author: Mark Wilson

Illustrator: Mark Wilson

Publisher: Hachette Australia, A$24.99RRP

Format: Hard cover

ISBN: 9780734411280

Type: Picture Book

For ages: 8+

About: Angels and butterflies are probably the last thing an Australian soldier would expect to see amidst the horrors of warfare along Papua New Guinea’s infamous Kokoda Trail – especially angels in the form of a young mountain boy.

In Mark Wilson’s latest book – Angel of Kokoda – children will feel the emotional impact of a remarkable and surreal story told in striking illustration and evocative word.

When Kari’s village is bombed and his mission teacher Sister Mary disappears, he takes comfort in the beautiful angel music box she left behind. Carrying it through the sweltering jungle, Kari is surprised to stumble upon a small regiment of Australian soldiers, fighting an enemy cloistered in gunfire and gut-wrenching bombs.

When a young soldier spends time talking with Kari about the whereabouts of his teacher, he is surprised to see not only the lad’s angelic music box, but the beautiful butterfly that lands on his hand as he reads Sister Mary’s note.

Moments later, a massive explosion begins a round of fighting that badly injures Kari’s new Australian friend. Desperate to save his life, Kari drags the soldier through the jungle, along the Kokoda track, through rain, mud, hills, leeches and mosquitoes – to a final resting place that befell so many soldiers of the Kokoda Trail.

As Kari places the music box in the soldier’s unmoving hands and butterflies swirl down from the trees above, there’s clearly more than one angel twirling in the silent mist.

An emotional and visually astounding introduction to children on the tragedy and loss of World War II, it’s about time the history of Kokoda was shared with our country’s young so eloquently, thoughtfully and powerfully.

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