The King’s Medal
The cover of this sophisticated picture book is immediately endearing, with beautiful soft images of a smiling boy, his grandfather, the Parthenon, warplanes, and a medal. This amazing artwork continues throughout, providing images to be enjoyed and admired more than once, which exemplify the text perfectly.
Maria Gill retells an exciting, but little-known story, about ANZACs assisting the King of Greece and his family to escape the island of Crete. Do not expect this book about war to be dreary and depressing, about misery and death. Instead, you will be drawn into a story of bravery, courage, kindness, teamwork, and sacrifice.
The emotive language used throughout ensures the reader is absorbed by the story, such as when a narrow gorge's "high walls were spitting rocks" and when the grandfather "collected his memories" in order to recount events.
A couple of pages into the story is a map, with dates and actions detailed. I personally would have preferred this to have appeared before the story commenced, or at the end of the story as I felt the flow of the narrative was interrupted whilst I studied these details.
At the end of the book are two pages of information - one giving background information relating to Crete during WWII and one detailing medals awarded by the King of Greece, with the names of the soldiers they were awarded to. Once again, the hand-drawn images of the medals are very detailed.
I am sure this book will be read, re-read and shared by many generations.
Title: The King’s Medal
Author: Maria Gill (lives north of Auckland)
Illustrator: Alistair Hughes
Publisher: Upstart Press Ltd
ISBN: 978 1 990003 34 9
Themes: World War II, ANZAC soldiers, King of Greece, Crete
Any advisory warnings? No. Despite the book being about the war, there are no disturbing images.
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes, especially if time was given for discussion around topics as they crop up.
Reviewer: Nadine Molloy, Assistant Librarian, Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening sentence: ‘Poppa, what’s that?’ asked Manu. His grandfather opened etched hands to reveal a medal.
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