NEED a good cry?
There’s a whole bunch of children’s books I can highly recommend that will bring you to tears.
Pamela Allen’s achingly beautiful book Black Dog about a girl who neglects her dog is top of my list for tear-jerkers.
When I first read it aloud to my kids I couldn’t get through it. I still struggle with it even today. It is no longer on their book shelf and now on my bedside table of light reading alongside Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Saga Land by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason.
Phil Cummings’ and Owen Swan’s poignant book Anzac Biscuits has a similar effect on me.
Published in 2013, the Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book takes a look at World War I through the lives of a mother and daughter, Rachel, who are worlds apart from their husband and father in a far-flung war zone.
It is set around the kitchen table and the simple act of making Anzac biscuits.
This domestic normalcy is cleverly juxtaposed against the battle grounds of World War I.
Rachel opened the cupboard.
Bowls, pots and pans tumbled to the floor.
Bang crash bang.
Shots rang out.
Bang bang bang.
The soldier lay low.
The flowers of the field brushed his grimy cheek.
We always make the first batch of Anzac biscuits for the year a few days out from Anzac Day.
The first few biscuits disappear off the oven trays while they’re still warm.
Others gradually leave the kitchen bench under the guise of a mid-afternoon snack or “I haven’t had any dessert at all tonight! Nothing!!”
By Anzac Day eve, the batch of biscuits is reduced to a pile of crumbs.
Then we start the whole process again.
This year when we made our first batch of Chewy Anzac Biscuits, my daughters were keen to capture the recipe on a video.
It might be hard to believe that a food writer’s offspring would be obsessed with YouTube food videos! But there you have it!!
I prefer to bake and eat than capture video but in the interests of keeping everyone on task I thought it couldn’t hurt.
We measured out the ingredients before we held the iPhone above them.
It took seven takes to master the correct pronunciation of all of the ingredients and issue the correct measurements.
Desiccated coconut became “decissated coconut”.
Bicarbonate of soda became “bibarcon of something or other”.
Three-quarters of a cup of brown sugar became simply “three-quarters of brown sugar”.
“Cut!” I say.
“Guys, you do know baking relies on exact measurements.”
We finally wrapped up the video on the 15th take.
The biscuits were delicious, however the “bake and take”-video approach added 25 minutes to the cooking preparation time.
Everyone was beyond “hangry” by the time the biscuits were ready.
When my eldest daughter took Cummings’ book Anzac Biscuits to school a few years ago for her teacher to share with the class, she was proud to say everyone had liked the book.
“But the teacher cried, just like you!” she said.
Lest we forget.