Review Blog

Mar 27 2012

Lone Pine by Susie Brown and Margaret Warner

cover image

Ill. by Sebastian Ciaffaglione. Little Hare, 2012. ISBN 978 1 921541 34 6.
Warmly recommended. Picture book, ANZAC. A story not well known about the Lone Pine Battle at Gallipoli during World War One, is told through the tale of the pine tree which stands in the gardens at the War Memorial in Canberra.
One young man, searching for his brother's body after the Battle of Lone Pine, came across a branch with a pine cone still attached. Sending this back to his mother in Australia, she raised three small trees from the cone, two doing well, and one withering and dying, just like her three sons. In 1930, one of the two surviving trees was put on the train and sent to Canberra where the new War Memorial was being built, and the other planted at the Inverell Park as a memorial to her dead son. In 1934 the Duke of Gloucester planted the tree in the gardens at the War Memorial, and there it stands today as a testament to the courage of the Australian troops at the Battle of Lone Pine.
This moving story will be well used at ANZAC Day in schools as it reminds us all of the sacrifice made by the families of Australia, in sending heir sons to fight a losing battle at Gallipoli. The bareness of the battlefield, stripped of its trees for shelter, is recalled when veterans took back trees grown from the seeds of the Lone Pine at Canberra to Turkey to remind us of the area so devastated by war nearly 100 years ago. The evocative illustrations concentrate the eye onto one scene on each double page spread. They are uncluttered, at times almost bare, tugging an emotional response from the reader, and telling a story through the images presented.
At the end of the book is an outline of the family involved, giving another layer to the story, and a brief summary of what happened to the pine trees that were grown from the boy's seeds. For those wanting to read a story on ANZAC Day which is a little different from the norm, then this will fit the bill perfectly. It is not well know, it portrays all that is significant about ANZAC Day to Australians, and tells how families were affected by the war. That it is true adds another layer of meaning and discussion with classes. For those lucky enough to live in Canberra, a trip to the amazing War Memorial will be that much richer.
Fran Knight

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