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Kids’ Book Review: Dreaming Soldiers by Catherine Bauer and Illustrated by Shane McGrath – Saturday, 25 April 2020

May 14, 2020

Jimmy Watson and Johnno Hogan were country boys and the best of friends. 

They loved life and enjoyed every mischievous minute of it. Don’t you two get into trouble was Mrs Hogan’s catchphrase whenever they left the house together.

The waterhole was their favourite place. When Johnno went off to High School in the city, Jimmy stayed and worked as a stockman. On holidays they made up for time apart.

The townspeople didn’t like the idea that the Hogans were friends with the Indigenous Jimmy. Mr Hogan was smarter than that. When time passed, and WW1 broke out, the two friends enlisted together.
The two mothers cried together. Mrs Hogan’s words rang in their ears as they sailed off to the unknown. Over oceans and deserts, through trenches and bombing, the mates watched out for each other. And for the first time, Jimmy was just one of the boys.

With impressive well-chosen prose that references the Indigenous theme, Catherine Bauer brings into focus the Indigenous soldiers that served in the Wars. Very few books – especially those for children – touch on this significant subject that is too often ignored. The book speaks to our social conscience. It reminds readers and teaches children, that difference is all in the mind; that what is beneath the skin is how a person should be measured.

I loved everything about this book, beginning with the fabulous covers and outstanding end pages full of old pennies. The full page illustrations bring us closer to the characters and the happenings. The images are realistic; sharp and alive on the page – especially the war images. Shane McGrath has done a magnificent job translating the text and giving it another dimension by magnifying the most important scenes. The use of khaki throughout the book was a brilliant choice. This is one not to be missed!

Title: Dreaming Soldiers Author: Catherine Bauer Illustrator: Shane McGrath Publisher: Big Sky Publishing$24.99 Publication Date: September 2018 Format: Hardcover ISBN: 9781925675535 For ages: 5+Type: Picture Book

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