Published: 1st April 2016
Publisher: Walker Books
Format: Hardback ( from the Library)
Left! Left! Left! Right! Left! We make our way in the dark. A family journeys through the early morning darkness… A group of young men huddle in a cold muddy trench…
Reflection is a powerful tribute to those who have served their country.
Reflection: Remembering Those Who Serve In War is a beautiful, and educational, reminder of why we have ANZAC services and Remembrance Day tributes. By contrasting a family attending an ANZAC Day service with Australian soldiers serving throughout various wars, Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg and illustrator Robin Cowcher has created a stark, but poignant reminder of what the word ANZAC means today.
I’m going to start by saying this is a beautiful book. Not only is Robin Cowcher’s illustrations aesthetically pleasing to look at it, but the beautiful illustrations combined with Shelberg’s succinct text has created a picture book with heart, body and soul. This book is going to be around for a long time yet.
Shelberg’s narrative is simple in it’s delivery, but powerful in what it achieves. In barely any words at all, Shelberg takes the reader on a journey through time and space allowing readers to put their own ANZAC day traditions and experiences alongside those serving in each war. By using such basic and uncomplicated text, Shelberg has managed to create a heartfelt narrative that appeals to all ages, while also standing two completely different experiences side by side.
While Shelberg’s text might be basic but succinct, it’s Cowcher’s illustrations that fill the gap and really pull the two halves and experiences of those involved together. Through her images we are able to bear witness to a number of wars that the Australian and New Zealand soldiers have fought in, and are still serving in today. What’s more, the focus on no one war in particular, the reader is able to see what war is like today compared to that of a hundred years before. A point not often shown in ANZAC books, and one I’m grateful to see included today.
At the back of this book, Shelberg and Cowcher have included a double page spread explaining their reasons and inspiration for the book; For Shelberg, the idea for the story was inspired by an ANZAC service she attended one year, and she wrote the book specifically with her then 4 year old niece in mind. However it’s the ten slightly larger thumbnails that take up most of the double page’s space. Here, each od the book’s double page illustrations is explained, taking the reader through the various wars represented. I love that Shelberg and Cowcher chose to include the mini history lessons with information provided on the following ten wars that the ANZAC’s fought in (and how many Australian and New Zealand soldiers were lost): South African ‘Boer’ War (1899-1902) to World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1954-1975), Iraq (1990-1991), Bosnia & Herzegovina (1993-2003), East Timor (1999-2012), Afghanistan (2001 -present) and Iraq (2001-2009).
Reflection: Remembering Those Who Serve In War is not only a perfect picture book, it’s an educational tool that will be around for a long time to come. It is the perfect book to add to a child’s growing library, and a fantastic resource for teachers and parents alike to explain who the ANZACs are and what wars Australia has been involved in.
To learn more about Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg (author) or Robin Cowcher (Illustrator), visit the following social media sties:
Rebecka – Facebook | Goodreads | Walker Books |
Robin Cowcher – Illustrator Website | Walker Books | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
To purchase a copy of Reflection, visit the following online retailers: