Just released: 30 ANZAC Heroes - a fascinating book on Australia and New Zealand’s most decorated soldiers, sailors, airmen, spies and medics across WWI and WWII.
The intense and hair-raising front-line experiences of 30 courageous and unforgettable ANZACs who served in World War One and Two are brought to life in dramatic detail in this action-packed book.
Impeccably researched and written with young readers in mind, Maria Gill provides a brief overview of the two world wars, and takes readers on a journey with the 30 Anzac Heroes.
Readers will discover the triumphs and tragedies of our heroic Anzac Army, Air force and Navy servicemen, medics, a spy, and a humanitarian – as each strives to survive wartime arenas across England, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.
Anzac Heroes includes famous soldiers such as New Zealand’s double Victoria Cross recipient Charles Upham, and honoured Australian Hughie Edwards. It also includes indigenous soldiers, Albert Knight from Australia and Peter Buck from New Zealand, and brave servicewomen such as Joice Loch and Dr Jessie Scott.
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I had written biographies about sports people and other famous people in 'New Zealand Hall of Fame' and 'New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame' before. The centenary for WWI inspired me to write an Anzac book. I wanted it to include Australian and New Zealand soldiers right from the beginning. I feel we have a kinship between our two countrties, and it would be great to show that in a book. I also personally have close ties with Australia – half my family live there, my Grandfather was born in Australia, and I went to High School in Australia. I practically think of myself as a dual citizen – a bit like Nancy Wake, who I included in the book.
I was very privileged to receive a grant for the book from Creative New Zealand. This grant enabled me to travel to Australia and study at the Canberra Australian War Memorial Museum and the Brisbane State Library researching information about Australian soldiers.
Early on I realised it was important to include indigenous soldiers and women in the book. Their stories make the book even richer.
I wrote full-time on the book for nine months. When I finished, I visited museums around New Zealand taking photographs for illustrator Marco Ivancic. He needed reference material for all the images he was going to draw.
Then came the busy task of fact checking, sending it off to experts, and putting together the extra pages such as the maps, timelines, medals, military and medical pages with the designer.
The team at Scholastic – Lynette Evans and Penny Scown – the designer Luke Kelly, and illustrator Marco Ivancic and I all went the extra mile for the book and it shows – I’m really proud of it. I hope you love it too!
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