Review Blog

Apr 16 2018

Message in a sock by Kaye Baillie

cover image

Ill. by Narelda Joy. MidnightSun, 2018. ISBN 9781925227383
Highly recommended. Picture book. One hundred years ago and Australian soldiers are fighting in the waterlogged, mud-filled, rat-infested trenches of the Western Front and almost as great an issue as the enemy's bullets is trench foot where the feet literally rot from being constantly cold and wet. So the call goes out for 150 000 pairs of socks and the women and girls left back home start knitting.
Click clack click clack click clack - no matter where you go, needles are working and socks are rolling off them - long woollen ones that go up to the knees for added protection and silk knitted into the heels to make them extra strong. Tammy's father is one of those away fighting and her mother one of those at home knitting. Day and night, whenever her hands aren't doing something else, they are knitting. Tammy's job is to wash the socks before they are sent away and into each of the ten pairs her mummy knits, she places a special message to her daddy.
"Dear Daddy, Bless your poor feet. Every stitch is made with love to help bring you safely home. From Tammy". Then the socks are wrapped in special paper and taken to join all the other pairs about to be shipped.
Will her daddy get a pair of socks knitted by Mummy with their special message?
Based on a true exchange between Lance Corporal A. McDougall and a young girl, Message in a sock is another touching and intriguing story that helps put a human face on World War I making it easier for young children to understand this nation-shaping conflict and why the commemoration of its centenary is so important. Told by Tammy herself, young girls can put themselves in her place and imagine what it would be like to have their father in mortal danger each day, far away in an unimaginable place and how even something as seemingly insignificant as putting a message in a sock can have such an enormous impact. The tiniest stone thrown into a small pond can still make a ripple that spreads ever outwards.
With its muted colours but detailed pictures that contain so much interest, this is another unique story from a time long ago that, like the impact of Tammy's message in a sock, has the ripple effect of impacting understanding and perhaps lives. An essential in your ANZAC Day collection.
Barbara Braxton

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