Tag Archives: Anzac Ted

Happy Book Week 2015!

Driving up and seeing this was a mega thrill!

Driving up and seeing this was a mega thrill!

Book Week has always been a red-letter week for me. Sadly, there was no such literary celebration when I was growing up in the 60s, but my children were luckier – books were finally being celebrated in schools – and I couldn’t be happier!

I remember the excitement building as the kids plotted and planned their costumes for the much-anticipated Book Week parade! The fabulous characters who paraded the playground while proud mums and dads clicked away on their cameras.

I remember being very impressed by a fabulous Pippi Longstocking, whose clever mum had “wired” her plaits so they stuck straight out from her head! I gasped with astonishment when The Wardrobe from C.S. Lewis’ imagination strutted her stuff (and deservedly took out First Prize) and I recall grinning like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat when my daughter rated a Highly Commended for her Pirate Queen – swashbuckling boots, sword ‘n’ all!

Me with some of the Year 7s at The Ponds High School

Me with some of the Year 7s at The Ponds High School

Every year Book Week has been special for me – and this year even more so. This year saw my debut picture book, Anzac Ted, rubbing spines with some of the world’s most celebrated titles. I walked into five different schools this week; and every school had my book on its library shelves; it was a very special moment. Added to this was that I’d been asked to appear as guest author/illustrator, so by week’s end I’d met hundreds of children and dozens of teachers and books had connected us all.

One of the highlights for me was returning to my old primary school, Normanhurst West, which I attended from 1966 – 1972.

Reading Anzac Ted to the children at Normanhurst West

Reading Anzac Ted to the children at Normanhurst West

During my dash down memory lane I pointed out classrooms where I’d chanted times tables and trod the very same asphalt where I had learned the joys of progressive dancing under the sweltering Aussie sun.

I meandered past the old tuck shop where I’d occasionally experienced the heady heights of ordering my lunch: a hot meat pie dolloped with tomato sauce in a paper bag! I scuttled past the principal’s office which had echoed with the thwack of the cane in the 60s and 70s. And I told today’s generation about the virtues of “signing up to drink milk” which was a double-edged sword! Mostly it was cold, creamy and delicious, but since it was delivered in open crates and unrefrigerated, winter meant that your chilled fingers froze into a claw-like grip on the bottle. Added to that was the unhappy fact that summer had the tendency to morph the milk into yoghurt – but hey, we’d signed on the dotted line, so we were pledged to drink the stuff, regardless!

The kids at Brooklyn Public School brought in their own teddies - how sweet!

The kids at Brooklyn Public School brought in their own teddies – how sweet!

All in all it was a whirlwind week of words, pictures, smiles and laughter. I read my book, painted Anzac Ted “live” and ran workshops for budding young writers and illustrators. Perhaps most rewarding was when children approached me, some quite shyly, to tell me they had been inspired to write their own stories now.

So thank you to the wonderful students, teachers and parents from Normanhurst West, Riverbank, Cowan and Brooklyn Public Schools as well as The Ponds High School.

At Cowan Public School

At Cowan Public School

I hope, like me, you had the best Book Week ever!

Belinda x

100 Anzac Commemoration: 25 April, 2015

Anzac Ted bearOn the centenary of the first Anzac landing at Gallipoli, I felt I just needed to say something about this once-in-a-lifetime event and what it means to me.

As the author and illustrator of Anzac Ted, I have had both the privilege and honour to be invited to numerous schools and preschools in the lead up to 25 April and speak to hundreds of children and teachers about my book. And it has been an incredibly moving and eye-opening experience for me.

I have sat beside Australian war veterans bearing a weighty array of service medals on their breast pockets. I have had hundreds of children listen to me speak and then ask countless questions prompted by my book. I have watched in breathless silence as wreaths were laid, songs from a world long past were sung and tales of our first Anzacs were told.

But over and above all, I have been struck by the depth of respect, pride and awe – both here and overseas – which has been woven into the very fabric of our lives for those who have gone before and sacrificed so much.

And this is not restricted to our soldiers but to their families as well who – in many respects – may have suffered just as much as their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons have. After all, they were left behind, not knowing the fate of their loved ones and yet they found the courage and strength to roll up their sleeves, lift up their chins and keep the home fires burning.

As an Australian who has inherited the legacy of the sacrifice of these men and women, both past and present, I am truly grateful. I have always considered myself lucky to live in The Lucky Country, but only now am I beginning to understand what that really means.

The 100 Anzac Commemoration has inspired a deeply moving and patriotic Australian spirit which has surpassed anything I have ever witnessed. People have come together, bound by gratitude and respect for our troops and their families. And while every Anzac Day is special, perhaps this one is more so because it has kindled the knowledge that not only are we tied indelibly to each other through our own unique history – but that we are seeing history in the making.

So, long may the Anzac legacy continue to strengthen us as a united and grateful nation. Long may we acknowledge the terrible costs of war and of defending our hard fought democracy. Long may we continue to pursue peace and in so doing, acknowledge those men and women who are prepared to defend that pursuit on our behalf.

In the words of renowned WW1 journalist Charles Bean: “They gave their shining youth and raised, thereby, valour’s monument which cannot die.”

Lest we forget.

Belinda x

Remembrance Day

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, the guns fell silent. And the First World War; the Great War; the reputed War to End All Wars was finally over.

Looking back as I am now from the threshold of the next century, I can’t begin to imagine the joy, the relief and the overwhelming gratitude the world must have felt at that moment; yet mingled with indescribable and inconsolable loss.

Why the Great War started and how it ended is for all of us to debate. What we learned from it and how we put that knowledge into practice to ensure a peaceful future is up to each of us to decide.

So as we stand and observe a minute’s silence on Remembrance Day, we remember those who served and who are still serving in all wars and conflicts.

And the list is long.

I have vivid memories of Remembrance Day when I was a schoolkid in the 60s. We knew it was a special day because we were all given a sprig of rosemary to wear in our button holes with reverence and pride. It was a special day because the teachers informed us we were required to stand still with bowed heads at 11 o’clock precisely and think about all the soldiers who had gone to war for us. Not so special was having several teachers punctuate the seriousness of this request with dark looks and threats of picking up papers at lunchtime should we waver in our reverence and pride by fidgeting, chatting to our neighbour or eating playlunch early.

Suffice to say, most of the boys in my class ended up picking up papers at lunchtime!

Anzac Ted Front Cover High ResAnd that’s where it all ended. Ironically, for the kids at my school, Remembrance Day often lasted about as long as the wilting rosemary in our buttonholes. Then it was promptly forgotten.
Still, we had little to draw from. Many of our fathers and grandfathers had served in the World Wars, and yet I know that in my house the subject was never broached. War was considered a closed book – especially for children.

And it’s a tricky topic – how much should children be exposed to? Being naturally curious they will ask questions – as I did as a child – and hopefully Anzac Ted will encourage engagement and discussion. And not just about war, but about its repercussions such as the returned soldier, the unsung hero, tolerance, acceptance and peace.

While researching the illustrations for Anzac Ted, I spent a day at the Australian War Memorial where I wandered, unhurried, and lost myself in the halls of a defining piece of our history. It was eye-opening. And the more I saw, read and heard, the more I felt a deep sense of gratitude, respect and awe for these men and women who had gone before and given so much.
I felt I owed it to them to learn a little about who they were and what they had done, and by remembering them, they would live on.

Belinda x

‘Anzac Ted’ makes his debut!

Anzac Ted
Very exciting news! My first picture book Anzac Ted is now available for pre-order!

‘Anzac Ted’ is the heart-warming tale of a teddy bear who goes to war.

This is a story about the unconditional love a young boy has for the battered old teddy bear passed down to him by his grandfather. A bear who – despite his ragged appearance – embodies the Anzac spirit. Through courage, loyalty and love, this brave little bear not only helps bring the Anzac soldiers safely home, he reminds us of what it is to be truly human.

You can get in early and order your copy right here on Exisle Publishing’s website, and of course I’ll post again when it hits the shelves in November.

Also looking forward to my very first book launch – details to come soon!

Oh, and happy Spring! How good is this sunshine?

Belinda x