Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


‘Jim’s Letters’ a moving story of a soldier’s short life

April 8, 2014

‘Jim’s Letters’ a moving story of a soldier’s short life

War affects children, and it is important they understand how it impacts families and societies, says Professor of War Studies Glyn Harper, who has written a new children’s book based around correspondence between a New Zealand boy and his Gallipoli-bound soldier brother.

Jim’s Letters (Penguin) recounts fictional soldier Jim Duncan’s travels and experiences during World War I in Egypt and Gallipoli through letters to his younger brother, Thomas, who lives on the family sheep station in the South Island. The book, which has already stirred emotions among adult readers, will be launched at Ashhurst School, Manawatu, on April 11.

Beautifully illustrated by graphic artist Jenny Cooper and with removable realistic folded letters, the story of 18-year-old Jim’s expeditions is based on research from Professor Harper’s Letters from Gallipoli: New Zealand Soldiers Write Home (Auckland University Press, 2011), a collection of 190 letters previously unpublished from a pool of more than 600 collected from archives, newspapers and family collections.

In the book, Jim’s first messages home are full of buoyant anticipation and bravado as he regales the sights and sounds of Cairo, the military training, and the camaraderie with fellow soldiers as they approach the battle zones of Europe and Turkey.

Young brother Thomas’s replies contain a sense of envy and admiration mingled with uncertainty and concern felt by their parents.

“We pray each night that you are safe. Mum says Gallipoli is no place for an 18-year-old boy and she should have made you wait until you were 20. I wish I could be with you Jim…”

Jim’s final letter to his family from the trenches of Gallipoli describes the intense heat, the terrible food, the burying of dead soldiers, while conveying his mixed feelings. He writes:

“War is certainly not the great adventure I thought it would be,” but concludes on a cheery note with; “Please tell Mum not to worry about me. I would not have missed this experience for the world.”

Professor Harper says he balked initially at the idea of ending the book with Jim being killed, but felt it was the most honest conclusion. By the time the actual Gallipoli campaign ended on August 8 – nine months after it began – nearly 3000 New Zealand soldiers were dead, along with more than 80,000 Turkish, 44,000 British and French, and over 8500 Australian soldiers.

The story ends with the last un-posted letter from Thomas tenderly expressing his love, admiration and sense of loss to his dead brother has brought some readers to tears. “My wife cried, my editor cried, my publicist cried. It’s had quite an effect,” Professor Harper says.

As well as honouring one of the most significant events in New Zealand history, he hopes the book will give young people an appreciation of both the legacy of World War I, and of the idea that going to war at any time incurs a huge cost to society through the loss of young lives.

Jim’s Letters is suited for readers aged five to eight years, and is the eighth children’s book by Professor Harper. It will be launched at 5pm, April 11, at Ashhurst School, Ashhurst, complete with classroom displays commemorating World War I. Both author and illustrator will be available to sign copies.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Album Review: Donnie Trumpet And The Social Experiments: Surf

Chance the Rapper is one of my favourite rappers of the last couple years. He bought a uniquely fucked up, acid sound with his debut Acid Rap which has demonstrably influenced others including ILoveMakonnen and A$AP Rocky. It’s remarkable that, at such a ... More>>

Photos: Inside The Christchurch Arts Centre Rebuild

Lady Pippa Blake visited Christchurch Arts Centre chief executive André Lovatt, a 2015 recipient of the Blake Leader Awards. The award celebrated Lovatt’s leadership in New Zealand and hisand dedication to the restoration of the Arts Centre. More>>

Running Them Up The Flagpole: Web Tool Lets Public Determine New Zealand Flag

A School of Design master’s student is challenging the flag selection process by devising a web tool that allows the public to feed their views back in a way, he says, the current government process does not. More>>

ALSO:

Survey: ‘The Arts Make My Life Better’: New Zealanders

New Zealanders are creative people who believe being involved in the arts makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Nine out of ten adult New Zealanders (88%) agree the arts are good for them and eight out of ten (82%) agree that the arts help to improve New Zealand society. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Reprieve For Te Papa Press

Following its review of the role of Te Papa Press, Te Papa has committed to continue publishing books during the museum’s redevelopment, Chief Executive Rick Ellis announced yesterday. More>>

Law Society: Sir Peter Williams QC, 1934 - 2015

“Sir Peter was an exceptional advocate. He had the ability to put the defence case for his clients with powerful oratory. His passion shone through in everything he did and said.” Mr Moore says Sir Peter’s lifelong commitment to prison reform was instrumental in ensuring prison conditions and the rights of prisoners were brought to public attention. More>>

ALSO:

CTU: Peter Conway – Family Statement

Peter committed his whole working life to improving the lives of working people, both in unions and, more recently, as the Economist and Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions. He was previously Chair of Oxfam New Zealand and was on the Board of NZ Trade and Enterprise. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news