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And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda: Australian Picture Books (1999–2016) and the First World War

Abstract

Over the past two decades children’s picture books dealing with the Australian experience during the First World War have sought to balance a number of thematic imperatives. The increasingly sentimentalised construct of the Australian soldier as a victim of trauma, the challenge of providing a moral lesson that reflects both modern ideological assumptions and the historical record, and the traditional use of Australian war literature as an exercise in nation building have all exerted an influence on the literary output of a range of authors and illustrators. The number of publications over this period is proof of the enduring fascination with war as a topic as well as the widespread acceptance that this conflict has been profoundly significant in shaping Australian public and political culture and perceptions about national character and identity (Beaumont, 1995, p. xvii). As MacCallum-Stewart (2007, p. 177) argues, authors and illustrators must therefore balance notions of ‘respect’ for a national foundation myth with a ‘pity of war’ approach that reflects modern attitudes to conflict. Whatever their ideological commitment, many authors and illustrators respond to this challenge by adopting an approach that serves to indoctrinate readers into the Anzac tradition (Anzac refers to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps raised for war in 1914. It has become a generic term for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. The Anzac tradition established at Gallipoli, Australia’s first major military campaign, has been traditionally viewed as the nation’s founding moment.).

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Notes

  1. Anzac Day is celebrated on 25 April and commemorates the landing of Australian troops on Gallipoli in 1915. It has become an unofficial national day, more celebrated than Australia Day and seemingly less contentious.

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Correspondence to Martin Charles Kerby.

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Martin Charles Kerby is a Senior Lecturer (Curriculum and Pedagogy) at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. His research areas encompass both educational and historical areas. In the field of education, he has investigated links between schools and universities, mentoring, leadership and management, multi-literacies, curriculum and school renewal. His historical focus encompasses school museums as sites for learning, biography, military history (1789–1945), Australian involvement in WW1 and the nature of historical inquiry. He has sole authored six books. He was recently awarded a University of Southern Queensland Publication Excellence Award—Authored Books for Sir Philip Gibbs and English Journalism in War and Peace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Margaret Mary Baguley is an Associate Professor in arts education, curriculum and pedagogy at the University of Southern Queensland. Her research interests include visual arts education, creative collaboration, teacher identity and strengthening links between schools and universities. She has co-edited Meanings and Motivation in Education Research (Baguley et al., 2015) and co-authored the following research books Educational Learning and Development: Building and Enhancing Capacity (Baguley et al., 2014) and Contemporary Capacity Building in Educational Contexts (Danaher et al., 2014).

Abbey MacDonald is a Lecturer in Arts Education. She teaches broadly across the field of Arts education, with her primary area of specialisation being in the visual arts. Her classroom teaching experience includes secondary visual arts, media arts and English, as well as diverse pastoral leadership roles. She has taught designed and developed units across the five Arts in tertiary education contexts. Dr MacDonald is a practising visual artist, working in oils and cross media, and emerging curator. She is President of the Tasmanian Art Teachers Association (TATA).

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Kerby, M.C., Baguley, M.M. & MacDonald, A. And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda: Australian Picture Books (1999–2016) and the First World War. Child Lit Educ 50, 91–109 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-017-9337-3

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Keywords

  • Picture books
  • Children’s literature
  • War literature
  • Australian history
  • First World War
  • Indigenous Australians
  • Trauma