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‘Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.’ – Groucho Marx

Booklist: historical fiction for Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, the day Australians stop to remember those who lost their lives in the wars we have fought. This year, the day will be a particularly somber event as it marks the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that officially ended World War I.

Sometimes it can be difficult to read about the history of warfare, but if you are interested here are a few good books to start you off:


The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

Cover of The Book Thief

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel’s father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word – Kommunist – and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother’s eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.


Soldier Boy

by Anthony Hill

Cover of the book Soldier boy

The incredible biography of Australia’s youngest ANZAC, aged just 14.

In the late afternoon of 25 October 1915, a young Australian soldier – Private James Martin, aged only eighteen so his papers said – lay desperately ill with typhoid aboard a hospital ship , anchored of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli. He was wracked with fever and his thirst was terrible. ‘Water…’ Jim Martin pleaded through swollen lips. ‘Please… more water….’ But his voice was as weak as he was, and at first nobody heard him.


When My Name Was Keoko

by Linda Sue Park

A heartwarming tale of courage, resilience and hope from master storyteller and winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal, Linda Sue Park.

When her name was Keoko, Japan owned Korea, and Japanese soldiers ordered people around, telling them what they could do or say, even what sort of flowers they could grow.

When her name was Keoko, World War II came to Korea, and her friends and relatives had to work and fight for Japan.

When her name was Keoko, she never forgot her name was actually Kim Sun-hee. And no matter what she was called, she was Korean. Not Japanese.

Inspired by true-life events, this amazing story reveals what happens when your culture, country and identity are threatened.


A Rose for the ANZAC Boys

by Jackie French

Cover of A Rose for the ANZAC Boys

The ‘War to end all Wars’, as seen through the eyes of three young women. the ‘War to end all Wars’, as seen through the eyes of three young women It is 1915. War is being fought on a horrific scale in the trenches of France, but it might as well be a world away from sixteen-year-old New Zealander Midge Macpherson, at school in England learning to be a young lady. But the war is coming closer: Midge’s brothers are in the army, and her twin, tim, is listed as ‘missing’ in the devastating defeat of the Anzac forces at Gallipoli . Desperate to do their bit – and avoid the boredom of school and the restrictions of Society – Midge and her friends Ethel and Anne start a canteen in France, caring for the endless flow of wounded soldiers returning from the front. Midge, recruited by the over-stretched ambulance service, is thrust into carnage and scenes of courage she could never have imagined. And when the war is over, all three girls – and their Anzac boys as well – discover that even going ‘home’ can be both strange and wonderful.


War Horse

by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse is about a horse who is sold by a boy named Albert’s father. He sold him to a bunch of soldiers. So the soldiers take the horse, Joey to war and help. Albert isn’t very happy about that.

On the way, he meets another horse, Topthorn and a girl, Emilie and her grandfather. They take the horses in to take care while the war. But soon, Emilie gets sick…..

Will Emilie get better? Will Joey be reunited with Albert?