Anzac Stories – Picture Books
To help commemorate ANZAC DAY on April 25, a solemn day of remembrance of those Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who have fought and died for their country, and is marked annually on the anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. This list of picture books about the Anzacs supports the Australian Curriculum and has been prepared by Dajo Finlayson and Mia Macrossan.
A printable PDF version is available on the StoryLinks Resources Page.
The Anzac Tree by Christina Booth: In 1916, two brothers planted two trees on their farm. They then headed far away to France to fight in the Great War. The Anzac Tree tells the story of a century of Australian generations who went to war, and the story of those who were left behind.
Anzac Day by Jill B. Bruce illustrated by Errol Nathaniel: A day of remembrance, a time to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices thousands made during wartime, Anzac Day is a cherished holiday in Australia. Through colourful illustrations and insightful text, the author creates an interesting look at Australian involvement in the major wars.
Simpson and Duffy by Mary Small illustrated by Ester Kasepuu: Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in England but came to work and travel in Australia. After the outbreak of WWI he joined the army with the 3rd Field Ambulance along with the thousands of volunteers believing he would get a free passage home to see his mother and sister. Instead, at dawn on April 25th, 1915 he landed on Gallipoli and became part of the ANZAC legend.
The Unknown Australian Soldier by Mary Small illustrated by Anne Langridge: In a “dream sequence” the ghost of the Unknown Australian Soldier takes two children on a journey back in time to Gallipoli, the Middle East, the Western Front, and more, to see the horrors of war.
‘Don’t Forget Me Cobber’: Australia and the First World War by Matt Anderson: A comprehensive account of WWI and Australians’ battlefield experiences at Gallipoli, on the Western Front and in the Middle East. Includes the desert campaigns fought by the lighthorsemen and the contribution of the Navy, Flying Corps and the nurses.
Walers Go to War by Vashti Farrer illustrated by Sue O’Loughlin: A story about the Queensland war horses, the Walers, who went with the Australian troopers to the Boer War in South Africa and with the Light Horsemen to World War I. Delightful illustrations help readers understand the role of these Australian horses in wartime, the hardships suffered by the men and their horses and the special bond they shared.
Caesar the Anzac Dog by Patricia Stroud illustrated by Bruce Potter : When the New Zealand Rifle Brigade marched down Queen Street to board their transport ship to Egypt and the Western Front, they were led by their mascot, a bulldog named Caesar. One of those in the crowd who waved him farewell was four-year-old Ida. She’d given her favourite hair ribbon to Caesar’s handler, her Uncle Tom, and they’d tied it to Caesar’s collar. Trained as a Red Cross dog, Caesar’s job was to rescue wounded soldiers from the hell that was No-Man’s-Land at the Battle of the Somme. Uncle Tom wrote home about their adventures to Ida, who eventually passed the stories on to her children and grandchildren.
The House That Was Built in a Day: Anzac Cottage by Valerie Everett illustrated by Barbara McGuire: In 1916 a suburban community in Western Australia planned an ambitious project to honour the Anzac soldiers of Gallipoli. With donations of money, materials and labour, they would build a house for a wounded soldier – and they would build it in a single day!
Simpson and His Donkey by Mark Greenwood illustrated by Frané Lessac: Jack and Billy grew up in the back lanes of Tyne Dock, where a river carried great ships out to sea. During summer holidays they led donkeys along the beach for a penny a ride. As they paced the sands of South Shields, Jack dreamt that one day he would sail away on a great adventure. Jack Simpson Kirkpatrick landed at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915 to serve as a stretcher-bearer. He enlisted the help of a donkey and together these unlikely heroes worked tirelessly, carrying wounded soldiers from the battlefront to the beach hospital. This is the heroic story of one man and a donkey and a strange twist of fate that brought two boyhood friends together one last time.
A is For Anzac by Matt Anderson: An alphabetic arrangement, based on Australia’s participation in World War I. Includes brief notes on places, people, memorials, and more.
Lone Pine by Susie Brown & Margaret Warner: From a battlefield at Gallipoli, a soldier sends a pine cone home to his mother. Little does he know that his simple gift will become a national symbol of remembrance. Lone Pine is the combination of emotional text and wistful illustrations. It is the true story of the pine tree that currently stands in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial.
Memorial by Gary Crew illustrated by Shaun Tan: When the soldiers return in 1918, a memorial tree is planted…”Lest we forget”. Generations later, what do those who pause in the shadows of the tree’s immense branches remember.
Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings illustrated by Owen Swan: Rachel is in the kitchen, warm and safe. Her father is in the trenches, cold and afraid. When Rachel makes biscuits for her father, she adds the love, warmth and hope that he needs. This is a touching story of a family torn apart by war but brought together through the powerful simplicity of Anzac Biscuits.
Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood illustrated by Annie White: Dawn approaches on 25 April 1915 and ANZACs Dusty and Bluey sail towards Gallipoli. As their ship gets closer, the two friends hear the noise of battle, and worry if they are brave enough for what lies ahead of them. This is the story of family and friendship, and Gallipoli.
Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse by Mark Greenwood illustrated by Frané Lessac: A foal is born at midnight, on the homestead side of the river. Coal black, star ablaze. Moonlight in her eyes. On October 31, 1917, the 4th and 12th regiments of the Australian Light Horse took part in one of the last great cavalry charges in history. Among the first to leap the enemy trenches was Lieutenant Guy Haydon riding his beloved mare, Midnight. This is their story.
Roly the Anzac Donkey by Glyn Harper illustrated by Jenny Cooper: Based on real people and events, this is the story of Richard Alexander Henderson, a soldier in the New Zealand Medical Corps, and the donkey he discovers wandering and hungry on a Gallipoli road. Richard and Roly form a strong friendship and, working together, they courageously save the lives of many wounded soldiers. Now the army has received top-secret orders to leave Gallipoli – and quickly. All the donkeys must be left behind.
A Soldier, a Dog, and a Boy by Libby Hathorn illustrated by Phil Lesnie: A young soldier far from home, a boy orphaned by war, and the stray dog that brings them together. A powerful story of the war on the Somme.
My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy illustrated by Benjamin Johnson: This is a simple, moving look at Anzac Day through the eyes of a little girl. It explains what happens on the day, and its significance, to the youth of today.
Harry and the Anzac Poppy by John Lockyer illustrated by Raewyn Whaley: The letters Harry finds in his Great-Grandma Kate’s room describe a world Harry’s only read about in books. Written by Grandma Kate’s father from the Western Front during the First World War, they not only describe what it was like to be an Australian soldier in the trenches but also share the feelings of loneliness and fear experienced by all the soldiers. As the story evolves through these precious letters, Harry not only learns the significance of the little poppy worn on Anzac Day, but also discovers the answer to a family secret.
One Minute’s Silence by David Metzenthen illustrated by Michael Camilleri: In one minute of silence you can imagine a war long gone; you can share what the soldiers saw and felt as they fought. If you try, you might be able to imagine the enemy, and see that he is not so different from you. In One Minute’s Silence, the story is yours and you are the story – to remember and honour the brothers in arms on both sides of the conflict, who shed their blood and lost their lives.
Lighthouse Girl by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Brian Simmonds: At the outbreak of World War I, Fay’s isolated life on bleak, windswept Breaksea Island takes a dramatic turn. As a lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Fay knows semaphore and Morse code and responds when the soldiers on the ships signal to her. Soon, the soldiers are semaphoring messages for their loved ones, which Fay then telegraphs on their behalf. Although they never meet, Fay eventually becomes friends with one young soldier who has no family. Drawing on archival material and interweaving fact with fiction, Fay’s tale is based on a true story and brings to life the hardships of those left at home during the war.
Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Brian Simmonds: In 1914 Jim and Charlie abandon the Australian outback for the excitement and adventure of the war to end all wars. In the Light Horse they quickly discover the brutal realities of life on the frontline. Nothing will ever be the same again.
In the Lamplight by Dianne Wolfer illustrated by Brian Simmonds: From fighting for the right to vote to nursing conscripted young men, Rose’s life changes forever when World War I arrives in the peaceful English village of Harefield. With an influx of wounded Australian soldiers, the villagers rally around to provide care and comfort, despite suffering their own casualties and grieving for their own losses. Training to nurse Australian soldiers like Jim the Light Horse boy is hard work, but with it comes much for Rose to treasure – in the gaining of a vocation, in confidence won and in finding new love in a new land.
Only a Donkey by Celeste Walters; Patricia Mullins: At the farm, the donkey is teased by the other animals – especially the bull! Then one night the donkey has a magical dream. The following day, they all set out on a most amazing journey. This uplifting story of humility, courage and compassion weaves in the heroic ANZAC legend of Simpson and the Donkey.
The Horse Soldier by Mark Wilson: When the shadow of war descends on Australia in 1914, a boy and his horse set off for war in the Middle East. With water rations gone, they charge the enemy across six kilometres of open ground to reach the wells at Beersheba. In one moment of dash and bravura, both Jason’s and Bandy’s destinies are set as the battle unfolds, with heroic and tragic consequences.
We’re All Australians Now by A.B. Paterson illustrated by Mark Wilson: In 1915 Banjo Paterson wrote, as an open letter to the troops, a poem he titled We’re All Australians Now: ‘Australia takes her pen in hand, to write a line to you, to let you fellows understand, How proud we are of you.’
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by Eric Bogle illustrated by Bruce Whatley: Eric Bogle’s famous and familiar Australian song about the Battle of Gallipoli explores the futility of war with haunting power.
Along the Road to Gundagai by Jack O’Hagan illustrated by Andrew McLean: The words of Jack O’Hagan’s song are familiar to many Australians. Andrew McLean is inspired by them to tell the story of the young men who went to the First World War, many of them never to return. This picture book adaptation features beautiful illustrations- some wordless- that alternate between the soldier’s reality and his dreams.
The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild illustrated by Freya Blackwood: After a library is burned down during the war, a young boy and his father keep the last surviving book safe in a treasure box. Even though they had fled their home, and the boy had lost his father and was too weak to carry his suitcase, he kept his promise to keep the book safe. After many years he returns home.
The Red Poppy by David Hill illustrated by Fifi Colston: The powerful story of one man’s fight in the trenches and the little messenger dog who saved him. Young soldier Jim McLeod waits in the trenches of World War I for the order to attack the enemy. With him are his friends, and Nipper, the messenger dog. When they charge across no-man’s-land, Jim is shot and finds himself face to face with an enemy soldier.
Do Not Forget Australia by Sally Murphy illustrated by Sonia Kretschmar: Henri lives in the French village of Villers-Bretonneux. Billy lives in Melbourne, Australia. These two little boys, who live thousands of miles away from each other, share one story that unites Villers-Bretonneux and Melbourne in history. A moving and inspiring story of World War One.
A Day to Remember: The Story of Anzac Day by Jackie French illustrated by Mark Wilson: This non-fiction picture book provides a visual timeline of what has occurred on each Anzac Day over the past century. It describes the various wars fought by the Anzacs during this time, and how our respect for the Anzacs has changed and grown over time. The timeline begins with a snapshot of the fatal day in 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Anzac Cove.
The Soldier’s Gift by Tony Palmer illustrated by Jane Tanner: Emily knows her big brother, Tom, wants to leave Hillside Farm and go overseas to the war, but Emily doesn’t want him to go. ‘Everyone else is going,’ said Tom to Emily when their uncle was gone. ‘That’s not a good reason,’ said Emily. A moving story of one family’s courage and endurance during the First World War, the terrible losses at Gallipoli and a time that changed Australia forever.
Once a Shepherd by Glenda Millard illustrated by Phil Lesnie : A story of love and war. Tom ‘wept ten thousand footsteps’ and ‘marched right into hell’. Tom is a shepherd who leaves his wife and unborn child to fight in the First World War. Once there was a shepherd, a very special coat – and hope.
Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood illustrated by Annie White: It is 1914 and Dusty and Bluey are headed for adventure. They are Anzacs, on their way to the Great War. It explores the themes of bravery, hardship, humour, fear and above all, mateship. The story of Bluey and Dusty is of family and friendship. It is the story of Gallipoli.
The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett illustrated by Trish Bowles: In the middle of the night, in the middle of winter, in the middle of a war, a puppy is born. A beautiful story about the reality of war, hardship, friendship and love.
The Last ANZAC by Gordon Winch illustrated by Harriet Bailey: This book is based on the true story of a small boy’s visit to meet Alec Campbell in the year 2001. To James, Alec Campbell was a hero. He was right. The old man, the last living ANZAC, and all the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought at Gallipoli, were heroes – everyone’s heroes. Alec, who died in May 2002 at the age of 103, enlisted in 1915 when he was just 16. He had put his age up to 18 to be accepted by the army and agreed to fight at the front, wherever he was needed. James was very fortunate to meet Alec Campbell and find out about his experiences. He gives us a special view of this humble and remarkable man, the year before he died.
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