Tales of World War I

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I’ve just finished reading Jackie French’s A rose for the ANZAC boys, which tells the story of three young girls who leave their sheltered school (and lessons on being ladies) behind them in England, and head to France to ‘do their bit’ for the war effort in 1916. The girls set up and run a canteen on a railway station, where they serve thousands of soldiers cocoa and sandwiches every day. There they see fresh faced soldiers heading to the front lines for the first time; but they also see the wounded and dying as they are moved from the front to hospitals in Paris and London.

The central character, Midge (a New Zealander), has two brothers at the front (one of them – Tim – is her twin). She’s a strong heroine who eventually gets recruited to drive an ambulance, and later helps out at a casualty station. Midge forms a connection with two soldiers, who she meets in the town near their canteen, and these connections play a central role in the story.

Throughout the story, both Midge and the soldiers she encounters picture home – rolling hills, paddocks and sheep – to get them through the darkest times. Home and home-coming are themes that run through the entire story, but at the end of the war, Midge, her friends, and the soldiers discover that going home may not be quite what they expected.

I’ve read a lot of war stories, but those I’ve read that feature women or girls as the central characters are usually about what women go through at home, waiting for their men to return. This story is interesting because it follows women to the war and tells us about the key role that many women played, not on the home front, but on the war front.

A great read, recommended for over 12s.

If you’re a Jackie French fan, check out her website, where you’ll find info on all her books, and some great info about Jackie and her work that would be useful for school assignments, too.

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One Response to “Tales of World War I”

  1. Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Books for 2009 - list now available! « blurb it Says:

    […] A rose for the ANZAC boys […]

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