Review Blog

May 19 2011

Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop by Hazel Edwards

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Ill. by Pat Reynolds. New Frontier, 2011. ISBN: 9781921042706.
(Age: 9+) The life of Edward 'Weary' Dunlop gives a tremendous history lesson of 20th century Australia. He rose from humble beginnings in 1903 to be an iconic Australian war hero, surgeon, sportsman, and community leader. In 1976 Dunlop was named as Australian of the Year, and in 1986 his famous War Diaries of World War 2 were published. He was held in such respect that when he passed away in 1993 over 10,000 people lined the streets to farewell him.
This book is the second in a series of Aussie Heroes, with one about Dame Nellie Melba already published and ones about Fred Hollows and Mary MacKillop to appear later this year. Aimed at 9 years+ the small size of the book coupled with the large font size makes it child friendly.
The text is broken up with colourful illustrations and a comprehensive time line provides a good summary. I would have liked a photograph or two of the subject, but that could well be an adult perspective.
Modern day children will be astounded by the difficulties described in the POW (prisoner of war) camps and the medical innovations that Sir Edward created by his 'make do' attitude.
The fact that Edward and his wife Helen took 8 years to get married and corresponded by mail will also intrigue those born in the electronic age of immediacy.
The obvious discussion point of this book is just what makes a hero. There is a geography lesson simply in mapping where Sir Edward went during the war years. Other related curriculum study ideas are in the teacher resources provided at New Frontier and on the author's website.
Kay Haarsma

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