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

Monday, 20 April 2015

Review: The Last Anzac

Alec “The Kid” Campbell was the last living Anzac. He enlisted in 1915 at the age of 16 and died in May 2002 at the age of 103.

In 2001, a young boy called James travelled to Tasmania to visit Alec Campbell at his home. The Last Anzac is an account of this visit as James asks questions about Alec’s experiences on the battlefield of Gallipoli.

Written by Gordon Winch and illustrated by Harriet Bailey, The Last Anzac shares James’ visit with Alec and their conversation about Gallipoli. For James, it is an opportunity to meet a hero, although Alec doesn’t see himself as such, and for readers there is the opportunity to see Alec and his experiences through the eyes of a child. As the story shares the touching conversation between the veteran and the young boy, the illustrations alternate between Alec’s home and scenes from 1915 as Alec describes his role at Gallipoli and his return to Australia to his young visitor.

For me, The Last Anzac is a story that prompts children to ask questions – why did Alec lie about his age so that he could enlist to fight in World War I? Why do we still celebrate Anzac Day now that the last Anzac has passed away? What does it mean to be a hero?

The Last Anzac is a tribute to Alec Campbell, Australia’s last living Anzac. It is a story that is particularly poignant and significant this year as we commemorate the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli. Children will relate to James and his interest in Alec’s wartime experiences and older children and adults will gain even deeper insight into Alec’s story through the endpapers, which include images of letters, postcards and photos from 1915.

Title: The Last Anzac
Author: Gordon Winch
Illustrator: Harriet Bailey
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781925059298
For ages: 5 - 10
Type: Picture Book

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