Friday, 2 May 2014

Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan (Hodder Children's Books)


Written by Gary Crew

Illustrated by Shaun Tan

Published by Hodder Children's Books

First published some years ago now, in this centenary year of the outbreak of World War 1 a reprint of Gary Crew and Shaun Tan's superb "Memorial" is a genius move by Hodder. This paperback version of the book tells the powerful story of a tree, planted to celebrate the return of soldiers from the war. Recounted partially by the children of a WW1 veteran, and by conversations with 'Granpa' it builds an emotive and strong message that we should not forget those who fought and died for us in World War 1 and 2, and the multitude of conflicts around the world where brave men and women give up their lives to serve their country.

Gary Crew and Shaun Tan work wonderfully together. More subtly tinged with a touch of the surreal than Tan's other work, he still produces the most beautiful ink and paint illustrations that lend this book gravitas and a fitting sense of honour and homage.

We have read several books that deal with this sensitive subject well, and this is definitely a book that would suit older children. That said, even a 6 year old could fully understand the message therein: That the modern world and the people in it often overlook the huge sacrifice made, and is it right and proper that a memorial to a long-forgotten war should be removed purely for convenience (as is the fate of the tree or the war memorial in this tale).

I love how the grandson takes up the fight, on behalf of his grandma and grandpa, and their fallen comrades. This is strong stuff, serious stuff but deftly written and beautifully illustrated. Not to be missed if you haven't previously caught this wonderful book.

Charlotte's best bit: Huge debate on the fate of the memorial tree in this book. Should they take down the tree or the monument?

Daddy's Favourite bit: Powerful and poignant. Do not miss this if you are discussing and reading about the WW1 centenary with your children

(Kindly sent to us for review by Hodder Children's Books)