Forward march by Christobel Mattingley
Ill. by David Kennett. Omnibus, 2016. ISBN 9781742990804
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. War, Anzac Day, World War One and Two, Vietnam. The panorama of Australia's involvement in war is shown in its entirety in this handsomely produced, beautifully illustrated homage to the marchers on Anzac Day. Mattingley's spare prose introduces the marches, held each Anzac Day all over Australia, in every town and city, remembering the people who gave their lives in these wars: fathers and grandfathers, sons, mothers, grandmas and so on. And all remembered by a diverse range of people as large numbers march by.
Using a photographic style of illustration Kennett presents a sombre vision of men waiting, ready for the slaughter ahead. And then on the battlefields, using an increasingly sophisticated range of weaponry and machines designed just for war.
At the start, Matttingley tells us of the marches around Australia, marches where people remember those who served, her minimalist prose listing the work men and women did at the various theatres of war. From the predominance of horses and cavalry at the Boer War, to the use of submarines and camels in the First World War, motorcycles and airplanes in the Second World War, ships, tanks and helicopters in the Vietnam War, we come around again, back to the marchers remembering the dead. The picture book begins and ends with the marches, recalling the lives lost at war, the marchers recalling their lost comrades, friends, family. And the last double page zooms in on the graves, the rows and rows of graves so evocative of the sacrifice made by these people, now buried in foreign fields, marked out for their contribution to our nation.
This is one of those books that will have readers thinking about the act of remembrance at Anzac Day when Australians come together no matter where they are to spare a thought for those who fought for their country.