Tag Archives: Gallipoli

Last Man Out – Louise Park


Wild Dog Books

April 2023

  • ISBN13: 9781742036427

RRP: $24.99

Sometimes a book comes along that just has the most profound impact on you, as a reader and, in this case, also as an avid history nerd.

Louise Park’s new publication is just such a book. In the sort of way that makes one tingle – not to mention, well up with tears and feel every emotion as intensely as if one were there with the protagonist, I was unable to put it down once I picked it up.

In an utterly remarkable piece of family history, Louise’s grandfather was in fact the ‘last man out’ of Gallipoli, in that extraordinary and quite astonishing military exercise that saw the evacuation of about 36, 000 troops from the peninsula battleground, and created the stuff of legend, becoming Australia’s turning point as a nation (in my opinion).

Louise’s family, of course, has always known this fact and there have been other accounts of John Alexander Park’s role, from military historians, but this new book represents such an intensely personal labour of love and family pride that it will be hard to go past – particularly for younger readers. I predict that all readers, young or old, will be completely enthralled with each piece of the shared recount.

English-born Park was a veteran of the Afghan War, and the Boxer Uprising before settling in Australia and in 1915, aged 36 and a hardened veteran, signed up for the Australian Army and then arrived at Gallipoli.

Louise has taken her grandfather’s diary entries and letters, and combined with other primary documents, reconstructed the essence, the terror, the pain and the spirit of those last days in one of history’s most ill-fated and ill-conceived military endeavours. It’s not a long book – less than 100 pages – but it is both powerful and moving, and I can assure you that your readers from mid-primary right up to secondary will be transfixed with this.

With ANZAC Day approaching rapidly, this is the new ‘must have’ for your collection. I go as far as recommending that your schools buy a class set. It will never be considered anything but a valuable addition, you can trust me on this point. Narrative non-fiction is always a prime area of interest for young readers and in this context, one of the most iconic events in our collective history, even more so.

Just as children for decades now have been thrilled and moved by the story of Simpson and his donkey, they will now be as moved and impressed with John Park’s history, particularly with the addition of first-hand/primary material (including photos). In addition, the stylish and elegant presentation of this book is absolutely first rate, and the use of the khaki shades a brilliant strategy.

My absolute highest recommendation for this book, which is both a valuable historical record and a testament to a granddaughter’s love. Thank you Louise Park for allowing me to read and share this. It is magnificent!

John Alexander Park – I salute you.

The Soldier’s Gift – Tony Palmer and Jane Tanner




Format:Hardback, 40 pages


price:AUD $26.99




Publisher:Penguin Aus.


This beautiful book, another published with timely consideration for the Anzac Centenary, arrived in our library at the start of 4th term and we all unanimously loved it for many reasons. Firstly the well-considered textured ‘retro’ style cover which instantly evokes stories from another age.  Then there are the absolutely stunning endpapers which resembles scrapbook collages of significant documents and pictures from one family’s history.  And of course, the story itself, poignant and yet with the hope of rebuilding and starting over, with its moving text accompanied by simply gorgeous illustrations.

Emily knows her big brother Tom wants to leave their farm and go to war, but she really doesn’t want him to do so. Their mother is no longer with them, Emily has never known her, and to her Tom is her everything. Most of all, she loves it when she and Tom and their dog Roo climb up the hill to the special cypress tree their mother had planted long ago.  But Tom does go to the Great War and keeps his promise to write to Emily all the time he is away – until one day the letters stop coming and finally, in their place, a telegram arrives telling Emily and her father that Tom will never come home.  As if to emphasis the finality, a wild storm fells their mother’s special cypress and Emily’s sadness knows no bounds.

In his last letter, Tom had enclosed some seeds from a special pine tree which grew in Turkey. Emily had put them away, not knowing quite what to do with them until struggling to come to terms with her grief and the refusal of her father to show his own despair.  At her uncle’s suggestion, Emily sets the seeds to sprout.   When the tiny seedlings are big enough to be replanted, Emily knows the perfect place to put them and clearing the ground around the spot where her mother once lovingly planted the cypress, Emily installs the three little Turkish pines.  The seed of hope grows even more when her father joins her and together they build a barrier to protect the baby trees from any danger.

Exploring themes of courage and endurance, as well as the hope that can come after deep despair, this is a book for older primary readers to examine the effects of the devastation of World War I on an ordinary Australian family.  It is a valuable addition to any primary library and I highly recommend it for readers around Year 4 and up.

.Read what Tony Palmer has to say about this book here.

Check out this and other books for the upcoming Centenary commemoration on Barbara Braxton’s new Pinterest page, Remembering Gallipoli,  here.


One Minute’s Silence – David Metzenthen. Illustrated by Michael Camilleri


One Minute’s Silence – David Metzenthen. Illustrated by Michael Camilleri

ISBN 9781743316245

Allen & Unwin Children

23 July 2014

Hardback. 48 pp.

RRP $29.99

One Minute's Silence

As we approach the end of the year and Remembrance Day, as well as the ongoing centenary commemoration of World War 1 and the ANZACs’ role, this powerful and deeply moving picture book will be a must-have for your collection.

We are all aware of David Metzenthen’s skill as a writer and now combined with dramatic and poignant illustrations by Michael Camilleri, this is a book that begs to be shared across many year levels.

Beautifully told from both the Australian and Turkish perspectives, Camilleri chose to depict the combatants, using Year 12 students from the Sophia Mundi Steiner School as models, in contemporary dress and using both genders. This has the effect of visually demonstrating that ordinary young people were caught up in a bloody conflict of extraordinary proportions.

The traditional ‘one minute’s silence’ is used as the recurring motif throughout the text as moments of huge impact are recounted solemnly and with elegant simplicity.  The repetition of circular shapes and cogs connect to the passing of time in each minute’s duration. Among the many visually stunning illustrations the double page spread showing the many small contorted bodies under the dark ground, as the ANZACs depart is heart-stopping. It reduced my normally boisterous Year 10s to complete stunned silence, such is its profundity.

Camilleri’s illustrations are detailed finely  and by rendering them in monotones evoke the period of time – as does the choice of the sepia tones such as those on the cover. This also conveys the bleakness and despair of the Gallipoli campaign (or indeed any conflict) and the intense emotional impact on those involved. The reader can easily empathise with both sides in this desperate situation.

My boys were intrigued (naturally!) by  the diagrammatic style illustrations of the shrapnel bomb and the rifle.  Though clearly illustrated in the film/comic strip style action, the shooting of a young soldier is subdued, though obvious, and hence reduces the horror for younger readers.

In one minute of silence you can imagine sprinting up the beach in Gallipoli in 1915 with the fierce fighting Diggers, but can you imagine standing beside the brave battling Turks as they defended their homeland from the cliffs above…

Truly a reflective and evocative picture book, One Minute’s Silence is, I predict, potentially an award-winning book for next year’s lists.

Highly recommended for both Primary and Lower/Middle Secondary.


click here for Teacher’s notes and here for Michael Camilleri’s commentary.

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