There’s no doubt that war and conflict can be hard concepts for children to understand. Anzac Ted helps to explain the Anzac legacy to the younger generation. The book, written and illustrated by Belinda Landsberry starts with a description of a raggedy scary-looking teddy bear Anzac Ted that is the object of disdain at Show and Tell at school.
However, it soon emerges that this is a special bear who accompanied Grandpa Jack to fight in the First World War when Jack was just 21 leaving behind a wife and young baby. In the armed conflicts, mascot Anzac Ted provided diggers with peace and comfort and was a symbol of family and home.
It was then handed down to the grandson who proudly carries it around even though it is missing an ear and an eye and lots of fur. To the little boy, this bear is a hero, much like the Anzac soldiers.
This is a poignant book that tugs at the heartstrings. The book works on many levels and will appeal to readers of all ages. Younger children will identify with a much loved toy and the notion of family while older kids who know the history of the Gallipoli campaign will appreciate the sentiment of courage and sacrifice within the story. (I’m planning to give a copy for a friend who will be taking her five year old to Gallipoli next year as it’s an age-appropriate book which simply explains the Anzac campaign).
It’s hard not to get teary reading this book to children knowing the full story of the ill-fated campaign of Gallipoli. Contributing to the emotion of this book are the beautiful watercolour illustrations. Some of the illustrations are inspired by historic wartime photos including the photo of the Unknown Soldier taken by war photographer Ernest Brooks. Interestingly, the illustrations of the bear are based on a real bear given to the author’s husband when he was a boy by his father who was conscripted during the Second World War.
Focusing on themes of war, conflict, family and love, this is a very special children’s book. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, share the story of Anzac Ted and the Anzacs and remember their sacrifice.
Anzac Ted is published by EK Books. RRP $19.99. Review copy provided to Newy with Kids.