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

Sunday 21 April 2019

Review: Reflection: remembering those who serve in war

As we approach Anzac Day, it is important to revisit the the story, Reflection: remembering those who serve in war. It has recently been republished with a new front cover.

In 2017, Reflection: remembering those who serve in war, was a Notable Book for the Children's Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year Awards, Picture Book category.

Left! Left! Left! Right! Left!
We make our way in the dark.  

Feet march though the darkness. Readers will notice the feet of the general public on the left hand page, while on the right are the feet of soldiers and horses from the South African, Boer War.

We shiver as the rain runs like cold fingers down our collars. World War I soldiers huddle together in trenches as the family walks in the dusk and wind to the dawn service.

The words and illustrations elicit goosebumps as I turn each page. A story about a family at a commemoration ceremony  is intertwined with images that capture moments during war and peacekeeping efforts. People wear red poppies and hold a candle, symbols of remembrance.

As the ceremony progresses though to the last post, we see images of many wars and peacekeeping efforts: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq: The First Gulf War, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and East Timor.

The crowd is silent and the soldiers are now depicted in Afghanistan.

When the cannons bang, the noise shocks the crowd gathered and the soldiers are shown in Iraq's Second Gulf War. To end the story the family joins in the march and remembrance parade. And we remember them. 

Reflection: remembering those who serve in war is a story that can be shared with children of many ages, as they can see themselves in the family who attends a dawn service. It can be used to explain and discuss the symbols of remembrance and the format of a commemorative service.

The words woven in this story by Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg, are beautiful and haunting, with their double meanings. The illustrations by Robin Cowcher are appropriately muted ink with watercolour washes, giving the story the tone and respect that this topic deserves. Cowcher occasionally uses pops of red poppy colour in an effective and hopeful way.

At the back of the book is a double page spread that gives more information about each conflict that is illustrated in the story.

Reflection is an appropriate book title, as we reflect on Australia's role in war and peacekeeping efforts this Anzac Day.

Title: Reflection: remembering those who serve in war
Author: Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg
Illustrator: Robin Cowcher
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.99
Publication Date: 1 April 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760650377
For ages: 4 - 9
Type: Picture Book