“What an exceptional resource … Every school library needs this book – it’s a national treasure!” (Vanessa McKellar Head of Library Services, Glasshouse Christian College)
The Seed of an Idea
All books begin with a seed of an idea. Sometimes that little seed takes time to shoot and grow. Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force (Big Sky Publishing) began as one of those slow-growing seeds that, with time, research and lots of negotiation, actually took root!
I have an enduring interest in Australian history and military service and have previously published books related to the service of my ancestors, including the children’s version of my adult title Anzac Sons. The creation of these books was the foundation for the Australia Remembers series, but my 20 years of experience as a teacher-librarian created the stimulus for action.
The Why Questions
Every year I felt I was supplying teachers with the same non-fiction resources regarding the origins and traditions of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. There was also a lack of information regarding war memorials, especially local ones. I wanted to provide a useful and curriculum specific book that would add to the available resources, one that would be valued by both teachers and children. Australian Remembers: Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials (Big Sky Publishing) came to be. But … there was so much fascinating information that I couldn’t include – like why do service personnel salute, why do they turn their eyes when they march past an important person, what is the purpose of a march past?
I became very curious about the origins of the rituals we see on commemorative occasions. I reflected upon the number of times children had asked me … why? I saw an opportunity and submitted a proposal to Big Sky Publishing. Both the military and children’s editor loved the idea. Now over two years in the making, I’m thrilled to see this book come to life!
The primary source of information was a book for adults called Preserving Our Proud Heritage (BSP), which is specific to the Australian Army. I plucked points of interest for schools from this title, researched them a little more and worked at simplifying the language for children. I then went hunting for more facts – like why do sailors wear white? The online resources of the Australian War Memorial, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force were invaluable, as was every military museum I visited. Invaluable assistance was also provided from ex-service personnel and the History and Heritage sections of the three services.
There were also many approvals required for both text and images by the individual services, and collectively the Australian Defence Force. For instance, the use of the badges for each service all need approval from individual Brand Managers. It was a very involved process working with the military editors and fact checkers to ensure the best possible outcome. There were over forty drafts of the Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force manuscript.
Then there were decisions to be made about grouping the information, and what facts to include and what to leave out – the research had resulted in an enormous manuscript that I needed to trim right back for children. That was tough. For each chapter we considered the interactive elements, the thought-provoking questions for children that can be used to stimulate discussion. Next, of course, there was the selection of the final activities that we add as a bonus!
After adding captions for each image, the manuscript and photos headed off to the designers. The team did an amazing job interpreting the colour-coded manuscript. The PDF of the design was then returned to me. Over twenty revisions were then made of the PDF. It also needed final approval of the three services. Phew … it was ready for print, but after all that, COVID delayed the 2020 production …
Finally, it’s 2021 and the books arrived on my doorstep!
The little seed of an idea had grown into a fabulous new book (well, I think it is)!
Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force comes in paperback or hardcover. Order now at your local bookshop, your preferred online supplier or by clicking here
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