Teachers Notes – Synopsis:

Anzac Ted is the heart-warming tale of a teddy bear who goes to war. Told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the story about his unconditional love for his bear who was passed down to him from his grandfather. At the outbreak of World War I, Anzac Ted finds himself heading into battle for luck’. But he soon becomes a symbol of comfort, hope and the memory of home for the Anzacs, and returns from war an unsung hero. Decades later, with the physical scars of war still evident, Anzac Ted doesn’t attract a single vote at the school’s Toy Show — yet this worn and battered old bear has a powerful and moving legacy to bestow. This is a story about the Anzac spirit; and how through courage, loyalty and love, a child’s teddy bear not only helped to bring our soldiers home, but can remind us about what it truly means to be human.

Themes:

The multi-layered themes that can be found in Anzac Ted span numerous subjects in the classroom, including: Creative Writing, History, Social Science, Geography, Home Economics, P.E, Visual Arts and Performing Arts Themes include: War/conflict; Peace; The Anzacs; National Identity; Australia as a new Federation; Gallipoli and World War I; Love, loyalty and mateship; Courage, humility and self-sacrifice; The returned soldier; Ignorance, prejudice and ‘judging a book by its cover’; Anzac Day/Remembrance Day; The Aussie–Kiwi bond; Reflection, gratitude and respect for those who serve; Heroism — the decorated hero/the unsung hero

Writing style:

Anzac Ted is written in rhyme using the A, B, C, B scheme (similar to Mary had a Little Lamb). Rhyme allows the child to learn the text quickly due to the rhythmic meter and flow. Rhyme encourages pre- (and developing) readers to ‘read’ along, predict the text and engage with the story. It also facilitates a low word count (there are just 390 words in the story). Hence, the use of minimal text coupled with powerful and emotive illustrations is especially attractive for reading aloud, as well as for new and emerging readers. The ‘voice’ in the story is that of the grandson of an original Anzac soldier, so in order to establish an authentic timeline, the book is set in the 1960s. This is neither stated, nor particularly apparent so that the ‘modern’ child can envisage the characters as being ‘here and now’ — and perhaps even picture themselves as the grandchild in the story. The language is generally simplistic, yet avoids talking down to children. On the contrary, the themes of the book are quite elevated and enhanced by words which encourage discussion and engagement, such as: Anzac, encounters, foe, tote, ridicules, woes, enlisted, brave, war, peace, mascot, dread, Diggers, disguise, scarred, medal, crew, and hero. Anzac Ted has been meticulously researched for historical accuracy. This initially involved searching websites such as the Australian Government, Australian Army, New Zealand Defence Force, The Red Cross, The Australian War Memorial and the Imperial War Museums in London. It also involved trips to libraries, bookstores and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Illustration style:

The illustrations were achieved with watercolours and watercolour pencils. The reason for this medium was that the subject matter required a soft, muted palette including sepia tones for the wartime illustrations. The latter was employed to help the reader differentiate past from present elements of the book as well as those of war and peace. Similarly, many of the illustrations are ‘linked’ to indicate how the past is linked to the present. To achieve this, colours were used to link images, as well as visual devices, such as unravelled thread, wartorn trees and barbed wire. The authenticity of the illustrations was particularly important to Belinda Landsberry, so she sought permissions from various bodies to replicate badges, uniforms and emblems. She also based several illustrations on parts of original photographs that were taken during the Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns.

Author/Illustrator motivation:

Anzac Ted was based on an old teddy bear that Belinda Landsberry discovered as a young bride. When they moved into their new home, Belinda’s husband, David, brought his old teddy bear. Ancient, battered and badly torn, David loved ‘Ted’, especially as he had been retrieved from a gutter and given to David by his father. Considering David’s father had been conscripted in World War II, Belinda decided there had to be a special story behind this beloved old bear, and set about discovering just what it could be. Coincidentally, the centenary for Australia’s involvement in World War I and landing at Gallipoli was approaching, so Belinda saw this as a wonderful opportunity to introduce to our children the subject of war, the Anzacs and respect for those who serve. Of course, there are numerous picture books already doing this, but none has made it as readily accessible to children via such a powerful symbol of childhood: the teddy bear. Anzac Ted encourages children to learn about Australia and New Zealand’s involvement in World War I from a perspective with which they can empathise and understand. However, as a multi-layered book, Anzac Ted touches on the many implications of war and conflict, in combination with the positive impact of resolution, tolerance and peace. While researching the book, Belinda visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, an awe-inspiring tribute to those who served in battle. Particularly moving were the audio recordings, letters and diary entries made by soldiers to their wives and loved ones. The Hall of Remembrance and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were sobering, thought-provoking and reverent and moved Belinda to the realisation that by remembering these courageous men and women who lost their lives, they go on living.

Of interest:

One of the first Anzacs to land on the beach (now known as Anzac Cove) on the morning of 25 April 1915 was Albert Edward ‘Ted’ Matthews. Ted was born in Leichardt, Sydney, on 11 November 1896 and was just 18 years old when he enlisted to serve as an infantryman in World War I. He was shot in the chest, but the shrapnel lodged in a notebook that he kept in his breast pocket — and consequently saved his life. Ted served at Gallipoli and then on the Western Front, including Villers-Bretonneux. He was inducted to the national Australian Living Treasures list. Ted was the last Anzac to survive that first fateful landing at Gallipoli. He died in 1997 aged 101 and was given a State funeral with full military honours.

Author/Illustrator background:

Belinda Landsberry has been writing and illustrating children’s picture books for a number of years, though Anzac Ted is her first book to be published. Belinda’s passion for writing and illustrating was obvious when she was seven years old and created How To Be A Nurse. While never published, this hilarious little book paved the way for Belinda to find her true north — children’s picture books. Belinda did, in fact, follow her own advice and became a student nurse, then primary school teacher, graphic designer and professional artist. But her love for children’s picture books continued to bring her back to where she truly feels she belongs. Belinda won the prestigious Kids’ Book Review Unpublished Picture Book Manuscript Award in 2013 and had three other manuscripts Highly Commended. Belinda also writes YA fiction and adult creative non-fiction. She lives in Sydney’s leafy north with her family.

Teachers’ activities:

  • Before reading the book, hold a Toy Show in the classroom. Suggest the children bring in their favourite toy. Hold a vote. Ask: How did you feel about the toy show? Which toy had the most votes? Which toy had the least votes? Do you agree with this? Record the results.
  • After reading the book, hold a second Toy Show. Suggest the children bring in their favourite toy. It can be the same toy or a different toy. Hold a vote and compare to the previous Toy Show. Ask: What did you discover? Were there any changes? How did you feel about the toy show? Which toy had the most votes? Which toy had the least votes? Do you agree with this? Record the results and discuss.
  • Choose a different theme each week. The theme name can be made into a sign and displayed in the classroom. Several themes are listed here but you can add to these. Base your weekly activities on each theme. The following are in no particular order:
  • Role play: Anzac Ted on the battlefields, in the field hospital tents and with the soldiers. Take turns to be Anzac Ted. How do you feel? As a soldier or nurse, how do you feel?
  • Role play: Anzac Ted in the classroom Toy Show. Take turns to be Anzac Ted. How do you feel?
  • What is a returned soldier? Do you have anyone in your family who went to/or is currently involved with war or conflict? Can you interview them?
  • The last living Anzac to land at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 was Albert Edward ‘Ted’ Matthews. Can you find out more about him?
  • Discover what institutions such as Legacy and the Red Cross do. Why are they important? Should the class adopt one of these as a charity?
  • What songs did soldiers sing during World War I? Learn one of their favourite songs. What did they do for entertainment?
  • Compare a modern Anzac with a World War I Anzac. How were they different? How were they similar? Make a whole class montage entitled ‘The Anzacs Then and Now.’
  • Make ‘billy tea and damper’ — preferably outside.
  • Play ‘Capture the Flag’ in a school playground with trees or a nearby park
  • Watch the Anzac and Gallipoli specials on TV. Where are the Anzacs now?
  • What is a hero? Who are some of yours? Should they be decorated? Why? Design and make a medal for your hero.
  • Refer to the book. Discuss characteristics of a good soldier: love, loyalty, mateship, tenacity, endurance, courage, humility, self-sacrifice, mercy, etc.
  • Refer to the book. Why did Anzac Ted return from war so badly tattered and torn and yet Grandpa Jack didn’t seem to have a mark on him?
  • Cook Anzac biscuits in the shape of teddy bears or teddy bear heads.
  • Make dog tag IDs for yourself or Anzac Ted
  • Draw/paint Anzac Ted on the battlefields
  • Write a letter to Anzac Ted on the battlefield and then when he gets home. Have a post box in the classroom where letters are posted and then collected and read aloud.
  • Design a stamp for Anzac Ted and put it on your letter
  • Write acrostic poems for: ANZAC TED, GALLIPOLI, SOLDIER, WAR and PEACE.
  • Brainstorm words for war and peace and write a five-line poem about each using the five senses — one sense for each line.
  • Make a time-line for World War I using the classroom floor. Why did World War I start? Designate children as individual countries to stand on the time line & interact.
  • Research a World War I soldier or nurse. What did he/she eat, where did they sleep? What did they wear, see, hear, smell, taste, touch? What was his/her name? Where was he/she from? How did the family feel back home?
  • Draw and label a field hospital on the battlefields. What did they do?
  • Australia was a new federation when war was announced on 4 August, 1914. What is a federation? How did it change Australia? Why did Australia go to war? Do you agree with this?
  • Gallipoli — where is it? How long did the fighting last? Do you know what happened? Who were Australia’s allies? Who were Turkey’s allies?
  • Write two diary entries. The first, as an Anzac soldier landing on the beach at Gallipoli and the second, as a Turkish soldier hiding in the hills.
  • What does Anzac mean? When is Anzac Day and why do we commemorate both it and Remembrance Day? What are some of the traditions we observe?
  • Where is New Zealand? Why are New Zealanders called Kiwis? Why is it important for Australia and New Zealand to be friends?
  • What does enlist mean? Why did so many young men enlist?
  • Research the roles of women in war. What did women do back home to help during war?

Selling points /notes:

  • Anzac Ted has a very wide appeal with a predicted target audience of 3 to 99 years.
  • Anzac Ted is due for release just months prior to the centenary of the first Anzac landing at Gallipoli. This is especially significant for the Anzac Day 2015 commemorations which will be observed across Australia and New Zealand — and for teachers, school children, returned servicemen and their families and anyone with strong patriotic ties.
  • Anzac Day — its place in history — and trans-Tasman national pride is growing significantly. Due to the social, cultural and historical significance of Anzac Ted, it will have strong appeal to Australian, New Zealand, U.K and French markets. Predicted overflow will also be in Belgium, Turkey and other countries observing the Anzac Day and World War I commemorations.
  • The book can be used as a valuable teaching reference in both the home and classroom, spanning multiple subjects and points for discussion for both primary and high school children.
  • Belinda Landsberry is the mother of four children as well as being a trained primary school teacher for K-6.
  • Belinda is an exciting and emerging talent as both author and illustrator. She is passionate about children’s books and is keen to promote them both nationally and internationally.