Title: Never Forget
Author: Claire Hallifax, Simon O’Carrigan
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Published: 1st March 2020
Synopsis: Inspired by the extraordinary works of Australian artists painting the First World War as it happened around them, this evocative book commemorates and explores the sacrifice of the soldiers, nurses who served and the families at home waiting for their return.
Illustrator Simon O’Carrigan has worked with war museum collections to curate, collate and recreate the original art to produce heartbreaking illustrations in this one-of-a-kind Anzac book.
Books that are centred around the Anzac legend, history, and the wars are often poignant, and remind us of those who have fought in these wars, and why. In Never Forget, Claire Hallifax was inspired by the artists who painted scenes of the First World War, and what they witnessed in the trenches, on the battlefields, in the hospitals, and all across the various theatres of war. It gives a human face to the war as it commemorates the sacrifices servicemen and servicewomen, and nurses have made in war, and the sacrifices of the families back at home – often never seeing each other ever again.
Claire’s words are perfectly created to evoke emotions and remind us that war is cruel, and not always fair, and through her lyrical text, reminds us that we should never forget the sacrifices made by the Anzacs, but to also never forget your brothers in arms, your loyalty, and that even though you may all come from different places, never forget you still see the same blue sky.
It is a reminder to never forget hope, and never forget how war impacts you and those around you. It is exquisitely illustrated by Simon O’Carrigan, inspired by images from artists of World War One, and use a dark, monochrome palate with touches of blue throughout to remind us of the peaceful blue skies and seas that are ready to greet us at the end f war and tragedy.
When combined, the words by Claire and images by Simon combine to tell a poignant story about what it is like to be away at war and trying to remember those you have left behind as you try to have hope, and a reminder to never forget the sacrifices made. The darker images are emotionally charged – all the images are, from start to finish, and act to remind readers of the sacrifices made. It can help children in history classes start to understand what sacrifices were made, and why. It can also open up discussions about war and how so many people were affected by the war – and the repercussions and effects that can have generations down the line.
It is one of the many books that makes Anzac Day and war accessible for younger readers, and can help us understand the importance of Anzac Day in Australian history whenever we read it.