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

Monday 25 February 2013

Review: The Fair Dinkum War

‘It began with a great rumble that came in through our classroom window and rumbled on and on. We all ran out into the school yard and hung on the fence and gazed in wonder.

An endless line of trucks and jeeps and tanks and weapons carriers came around the corner and along our street… Soldiers in the trucks waved to us. We wouldn’t have guessed there were so many trucks in the whole wide world.’

I remember my grandmother’s stories of the war years. Stories of raising and managing her family during the years of rations and hardship. I remember the stories of family members who went away to war and never returned, or who returned very different men and women to those who left. I have read many books that share similar stories.

What I love about David Cox’s The Fair Dinkum War is that it shares the other stories I remember my grandmother telling me. The stories of the way people adapted and found things to celebrate, the sense of community and support, and the irrepressible sense of humour and resilience that is such an intrinsic part of the Australian character.

David shares the stories of his own childhood during World War Two offering young readers a glimpse into everyday life during the war years. He talks about blackout curtains and the wardens who roamed the streets at night to make sure that no enemy pilots would spot lights shining through windows. He explains Rationing and The Austerity Program and receiving kites made the Javanese soldiers in a camp on the far side of town.

What I love about this story is that it shares a patchwork of memories from this incredibly difficult time that includes wonderful moments of humour and fun. The illustrations are appealing and have a real sense of gentle nostalgia and humour that takes the edge from the harshness of the topic.

The Fair Dinkum War is a wonderful way to spark conversations with children about Australia’s war history, focusing on life at home during the war years rather than the battlefront.

Title:  The Fair Dinkum War
Author/Illustrator:  David Cox
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date:  30 January 2013
Format: Hardcover
ISBN:  9781743310625
For ages:  7+
Type: Picture book, Picture book for older readers