Anzac Heroes

Introducing ... Author Maria Gill

Author Maria Gill has written 60 books for children and teachers. Eight of her books have been shortlisted for nationwide children’s book awards, and six have been selected as Storylines Notable Books. Her latest book Anzac Heroes won the 2016 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Supreme Award and the Elsie Locke Non-fiction Award, and New Zealand Hall of Fame won the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Book Award in non-fiction. Maria has lectured and tutored a ‘Writing for Children’ paper for Massey University, co-written a ‘Writing for Young Readers’ course for the Commonwealth Education Trust, and taught at Primary and Intermediate schools.  Maria has a passion for children’s books and she enjoys sharing it with others.

Illustrator Marco Ivancic

Illustrator Marco Ivancic has illustrated two books for children. His first book New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame was shortlisted for the LIANZA Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction. His illustrations were given an Honorable Award. It was also shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Awards Children's Choice (non-fiction). His second book Anzac Heroes, also with Maria Gill, won the 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award as well as the Elsie Locke Non-fiction Award. Marco has also illustrated several book covers (Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner, The Tale of Onoro Books 1-3 by Dylan Saccoccio) and magazine covers. He majored in illustration when completing his Bachelor of Design.

Anzac Heroes
Author: Maria Gill
Illustrator:  Marco Ivancic
Publisher:  Scholastic
ISBN:  978-1-77543-363-7
RRP:  NZ $30  A$25
Anzac Heroes is the hair-raising front-line experiences of 30 Courageous and unforgettable Anzacs who served in WWI and WWII. Readers will discover the triumphs and tragedies of our heroic Anzac soldiers - army, air force, navy servicemen, medics, a spy and a humanitarian - as each strives to survive wartime arenas across England, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. Anzac Heroes includes famous soldiers such as Australia's honoured Hughie Edwards and New Zealand's double Victoria Cross recipient Charles Upham. It also includes indigenous soldiers, Albert Knight from Australia and Peter Buck from New Zealand, and brave servicewomen such as Joice Loch and Dr Jessie Scott.


Maria, can you please tell us something positive, something interesting and some sad or tragic that you discovered while writing Anzac Heroes.

Name something positive you discovered:

While trying to find a picture of Corporal Albert Knight I talked to many of his relatives. I also spoke to an RSL  representative in Bourke who had been trying to get hold of Albert's family to get permission to put a plaque and grave stone on Albert's grave. For (approximately) sixty years, Albert had lain in an unmarked grave, as did his brother and cousins. I was able to pass onto the RSL representative, phone numbers of people who I had spoken to. In 2015, a special ceremony was held in Bourke on Anzac Day when they placed an engraved plaque and headstone on Albert and his brother William and cousin's grave. All returned soldiers were supposed to have plaques and gravestones on their graves when they passed away. Unfortunately, many Aboriginal soldier's graves did not. Now Albert has his.

Name something sad you discovered:

I cried many times while researching and writing these stories. The two world wars ruined many men's lives. I especially cried when Robert Harper lost his brother Gordon in Romani. When Robin heard his brother had been shot, Robin rode towards the advancing enemy's fire, placed Gordon across his horse and brought him back behind the lines. Hugo Throssell also lost his brother in battle in North Africa. His story would end in even more tragedy. As well as the deaths of Robert Little, William Sanders, Richard Travis, Thomas Derrick, and Moana-nui-a-kiwa Ngarimu. There are no winners with war.

Name something interesting you discovered:

I had watched the film The Great Escape many years ago. I never knew a New Zealander would play a pivotal role in the escape. When Germans captured Leonard Trent after his plane crashed, he was taken to POW camp Stalag III. It didn't take him long to notice that something strange was going on. Once they trusted Leonard was not a spy the POWs let him in on their secret. They had built three tunnels below the POW camp, complete with electricity, train track, and storage room. Leonard was one of the lucky men to draw a number out of the hat which enabled him to be one of the escapees. Unfortunately for him, the first 78 escaped but he was halfway towards the forest when a German soldier discovered the escape. Leonard had a choice: run for it and risk being shot or stand up with his hands raised. Read on to find out what choices he made.

Curriculum Links

Studies of Society & Environment: Time, Continuity & Changes. Years 4-7

  • Significance of particular people, groups, places and events in developing Australia's heritage
  • Lasting and changing aspects of history
  • interpreting timelines and sequence of events
  • role of key figures
  • Significant women experiences
  • Significant indigenous experiences
  • Understand different perspectives and viewpoints


Maria Gill's website:
Marco Ivancic's blog:
Scholastic NZ
Scholastic Australia
Buy book here:  Scholastic Australia
Brisbane, NSW, Melbourne
New Zealand Children's Bookshops in Auckland and Christchurch, Wellington.


  1. I was deeply moved at your actions Maria to have Aboriginal soldiers recognised - that Albert and his brother Willian Knight and their cousin had no marked grave hurts - In 2015,on Anzac Day at last the engraved plaque and headstone were laid like all returned soldiers. You have done something important here Maria. Thankyou from all Australians.

  2. Liked the range of subjects and the useful detail in this book which is the kind which can be a gift to a family and all ages can read it, even grandparents. I run workshops on 'Writing Non Boring Family Histories' and I'm recommending Maria Gill's book for format and also for content.

  3. I have learnt a lot reading anzac heroes, thank you.