Title: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Author: Eric Bogle
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
ISBN: 9781743317051 Language: English
Classification: Fiction based on real events
Themes: war, consequences
What’s it about?
This story is about a young man who leaves his life to fight for Australia during WW1. It looks at his life over in Gallipoli and how he becomes permanently disabled before being returned home to Australia to live the rest of his life.
The story told is very vivid and the accompanying illustrations do well to create a visual representation of the words.
This book contains the word ‘arse’. The content is a bit confronting for younger children.
The only reason I am marking this one as a consider, rather than use, is because I am not a personal fan of the illustrations – they are not my cup of tea. Having written that the content of the song lyrics is quite compelling.
This book is definitely not for younger students who I feel would be quite overwhelmed by the images, text, or both. Certainly though for middle and upper primary (grade 4+) this would be ideal. This is not a ‘propaganda’ story and by that I mean it is not painting a picture that war is wonderful and everyone who served is a proud soldier who lived a full and happy life. Too often books aimed at war content fail to show both sides. Some might argue this book only shows the negative impact of serving but there are other books that could be used to demonstrate a more positive experience.
When I first read the book (I’d never heard the song before) I couldn’t help but draw comparison’s with John Schumann’s I Was Only Nineteen. Both books are song lyrics and both are about the Australian perspective of a soldier in a war. The main difference being that this book is about WW1 whereas I Was Only Nineteen is about Vietnam. Another more subtle difference is that I Was Only Nineteen looks more at the psychological impact of war; And the Band Played…looks more at the physical impact (he came back in a wheelchair). Still I think the author, Eric Bogle, sums it up well in his note at the back that the song and experiences really could be likened to any war.
If I was using this in the classroom I would be using And the Band Played…in conjunction with I Was Only Nineteen to draw comparisons in the perspective and story telling since both are narratives. From there I would look at other books aimed at showing war, perhaps Anzac Ted, which doesn’t show the harshness of what the diggers faced while serving.
Definitely a book to consider for the classroom.
Get to know the author
Click HERE or the banner above to visit Eric Bogle’s official website.