Australian Not by Blood, but by Character: Soldiers and Refugees in Australian Children’s Picture Books
In recent years, Australian children’s picture books dealing with the First World War have balanced the increasingly sentimentalized construct of the Australian soldier as a victim of trauma and the traditional use of Australian war literature as a means of exploring national identity. It is an approach that has proved quite malleable, for variations of it have been used in children’s picture books dealing with the far more polemic issue of refugees. By drawing on this framework, authors and illustrators position refugees as victims of trauma who have displayed qualities that are entirely consistent with a construct of national identity grounded in martial achievement. Readers of these texts are encouraged to welcome these arrivals at a literal level as new citizens and symbolically as new inductees into a pervasive construct of national identity.
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