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22 April 2022
Jo Brookshaw, her daughter Hosanna, and illustrator Betty Maher want the book to be a gentle opener to Anzac Day discussions.
Sharing the message of sacrifice with our children
Words Jessica Morris
Walk past the shop at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance and you will quickly spot a children’s book called Hope’s Anzac Adventure.
The beautifully illustrated story, about a girl named Hope who learns about her grandpa’s history in World War Two, is a conduit for storytelling between the generations. And every copy sold raises funds for the War Memorial and Remembrance Committee in Craigieburn, a satellite suburb in Melbourne’s north.
The book’s author is Jo Brookshaw, a Salvos officer (pastor) now serving in Perth. However, it was during her previous appointment as the Craigieburn Salvos officer with her husband Pete that she was contacted by the Craigieburn War Memorial and Remembrance Committee.
The committee wanted to publish a children’s book that would explore the nuances of war and, in particular, Anzac Day, to equip caregivers and parents. But telling a six-year-old about the realities of war is tough – just ask Jo, a mother of three.
“It is difficult communicating the seriousness of war without bringing trauma to kids or adults as we discuss Anzac Day,” says Jo. “It’s a balancing act – families sharing their own stories about war is important but finding the language to talk about it with kids can be difficult – that’s where Ihope storybooks like ours can be a gentle opener.”
The book was truly a community effort, and the public fundraised for the project’s costs. Donations were given on behalf of relatives, veterans, and heroes.
Coming up with the story of Hope, who wants to know why her grandpa wears so many medals, Jo completed the manuscript in a few days. And once Betty Maher matched the story with illustrations of local landmarks, the new resource was ready to publish.
“My youngest daughter was little at the time, and I finally had this book I had written, and I wanted to see how she would interact with the story and how it would impact her,” reflects Jo. “I also found it a positive way to connect with the community and people of a like heart – they really wanted to share [Anzac Day] in a loving way that builds connection.”
As a pastor, Jo was also able to share the book with her congregation, giving her a way to tangibly express her faith by resourcing the people around her to have these important conversations.
“On Anzac Day, we are always involved in a message sharing about Jesus,” Jo says. “We remember what it is to sacrifice for others, and remember we are blessed to have family who are safe today because of their experiences.”
That message is found in the Bible, in the book of John: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That same verse (John chapter 15, verse 13) is also engraved at the Shrine of Remembrance, making Jo’s contribution to the community initiative all the more important.
As we approach Anzac Day this year, a new generation of children across Australia will learn about the sombre significance of our veterans’ sacrifice. And through In Memoriam donations, the Craigieburn War Memorial and Remembrance Committee was able to deliver free copies to libraries, childcare centres, kindergartens, and primary schools in their region, so no one is left behind. Because this is an essential conversation for every Australian.
Hope’s Anzac Adventure is available for $15 plus postage through the Craigieburn War Memorial. Email email@example.com. Copies are also available by visiting the Shrine of Remembrance.