Books Crime, Thriller, Mysteries and Puzzles Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Who was Weary Dunlop?

Meet... Weary Dunlop by Claire Saxby and Jeremy Lord

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

While this picturebook biography is not really about crime and thriller, it does feature the story of an Australian army surgeon. And since we are also looking at narratives of cops, soldiers, the military, it fits right in!

Meet… Weary Dunlop

Written by Claire Saxby Illustrated by Jeremy Lord
Published by Random House Australia (2015)
ISBN-10: 0857985361
ISBN-13: 9780857985361
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Ernest Edward Dunlop was said to have grown up around the Australian countryside. He was a brilliant man who finished his four years of secondary school in just three years, and he was also an accomplished athlete, a real sportsman.

It was not surprising that he eventually became a military surgeon: marrying both his mental acuity and physical agility. World War II changed his life forever, as he joined the Australian Army and was placed in charge of the Military hospital in Java, Indonesia.

When the Japanese army invaded and took control of Java, Dunlop became one of the prisoners of war, and was put in command of both British and Australian prisoners. As Saxby noted:

Weary was tall and confident and very skilled both as a surgeon and as a commanding officer. This helped him to negotiate with the Japanese guards. Even so, sometimes he lost his temper and was punished. But always, he protected his men.

Perhaps what struck me the most about this narrative was Dunlop’s integrity of character, his leadership that entailed putting his own life at risk for the well-being and survival of his people, and his courage that was never fool-hardy but also determined, earnest, and well-intentioned.

It struck a chord in me seeing those bamboo sticks; this is a setting that is very close to where I live now (Singapore). As I read the timeline at the end of the book, it did show that Dunlop was transferred to Changi Singapore in 1942 before he and the other POWs were transferred to Thailand to work on the Thai-Burma railway.

I believe that this is a story that will be of interest, not only in Australia, but also in Southeast Asia. In 1976, Dunlop was declared Australian of the Year, and his death in 1993 was mourned by over 10,000 people who lined up in the streets for his state funeral. I am glad to have finally ‘met’ him through Saxby’s and Lord’s tribute to a life well-lived.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: Australia

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Who was Weary Dunlop?

  1. Sadly, my library does not have this, but I’m glad to know about him through your review, Myra. And I can find more online. Thank you for sharing about this man, a hero new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those illustrations are stunning, alas we don’t have a copy at my library either! Thank you for sharing this one, so I could experience it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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