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Anzac Day author is shortlisted for NZ Post Book Awards, publishes new Anzac book, and heads to Gallipoli

Anzac Day author is shortlisted for New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, publishes new Anzac book, and heads to Gallipoli – all in a week.

Cover of Philippa's new book - Best mates.

Wellington-based children’s author Philippa Werry has a number of reasons to celebrate in April – on the same day it is announced that her 2013 book Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story is amongst the finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, she is launching her latest book on the subject, Best Mates: Three lads who went to war together. And later this month she will experience the landscapes and stories behind all the desk research she has done to produce these two books first-hand, when she travels to Gallipoli as just one of six New Zealanders selected for the 2014 Gallipoli Volunteer Programme.

Philippa’s interest stems from the fact that both her grandfathers fought in the First World War (one enlisted in New Zealand and was at Gallipoli, the other in England and was on the Western Front) and her great-great-aunt was in the first group of New Zealand nurses to leave for WWI. Her first idea for writing Anzac Day was that it would be a way of explaining the Anzac service to children, but she soon realised you couldn’t do that without explaining where the word Anzac came from and some of the history behind it, and the book developed from there.

Published in March 2013, this non-fiction title went into reprint again before Anzac Day, and has enjoyed another two reprints since. It was selected as a Storylines Notable Book last month, and has just been announced amongst the finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

It was while she was visiting schools to talk about Anzac Day, that she realised there was a need for a book on the topic of Gallipoli aimed at the younger market. "I wanted to show the story of war (Gallipoli in particular) as extending beyond the battlefield to the families left behind, and including references to what it was like for the Turkish soldiers. The hospitals and medical staff aren't mentioned but they are there in the background. I wanted to show how war has a lasting impact, and how important it is for us to remember those who died in war," says Philippa.

And so she began developing the concept behind Best Mates, a picture book that incorporates the work of award-winning Wellington illustrator Bob Kerr to tell the moving tale of three young school friends who sign up to go to war together. This, Philippa’s first picture book, is launching at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie this evening, and has started to hit bookstores countrywide ahead of Anzac Day commemorations.

Philippa has become so involved with the subject of Gallipoli from her research for both books, that she put her name down for the Gallipoli Volunteer Programme and was one of just six New Zealanders to be selected for this year's two-week trip, which involves an in depth tour of the Gallipoli peninsula, then helping out at the Anzac Day services on 24-25 April.

To learn more about the Gallipoli Volunteer Programme, visit:

And to follow Philippa’s preparation for her trip, and her travels, visit:

To learn more about the Berry’s Boys collection see:

Updated on 23rd July 2015