Today, award-winning author, Sally Murphy is visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the inspiration behind her latest book, Do Not Forget Australia.

Ideas for stories can come from anywhere. In the past I’ve been inspired by a humorous word combination (Head Hog), a poem out of the blue (Pearl Verses the World) and a fable (The Floatingest Frog). But the seed for Do Not Forget Australia came from a photo.

My then thirteen year old son, Tom, had just been chosen to travel on the WA Premier’s ANZAC Student Tour. At a parent briefing we were shown slides of a previous tour, including a photo of a previous tour group standing in front of a big sign that said Do Not Forget Australia.

The sign, we were told, was at a school in Villers-Bretonneux in France, the main destination for the tour group.  I had seen photos of this sign before, knew a bit about Villers-Bretonneux , but it was only now that I was struck by the fact that this sign, written in English, was hanging in a school in France.  What was the full story behind it, I wondered.

Back at home I started researching, and learnt of the village which Australian soldiers had fought to save, of the men who were buried there, and of the relationship born between the two countries from that day. And I wondered if the people of modern Australia were as familiar with the story as the people of Villers-Bretonneux   were. It was time, I decided, to tell the story to Australian children.

It took quite some time to find a way to share the story in a way that was accessible to children. At first I simply read and researched. I talked about the story with my husband (an unusual thing for me to do in the early stages of a story), and I thought and thought. Then, On ANZAC Day 2008, as I watched the service being broadcast from Villers-Bretonneux   on television (catching a glimpse of my son laying an official wreath), I finally found the way to start the story and sat and wrote the first draft.

That draft was only the first of many.  It was nearly two years before I had a version which was accepted for publication by Walker Books, and another two years before it was ready for publication. Now it’s out – ready to take on the world. I hope that it will be read by Australians young and old, and that they too are taken by the story of friendship between two countries, which is acted out with a focus on two boys (one in each country).  It’s an important story, and I just hope I’ve done it justice.


Do Not Forget Australia is a beautifully told story of two young boys living a world apart, one in Australia and one in France. The stories are linked by the two boy’s experiences of the same war. Both have fathers away fighting, both know what is to be growing up with absent dads.

This story is based on the world’s first tank battle that took place in Villers-Bretonneux on 24th April 1918. The Germans held the village but later than night, Australian soldiers won it back. Twelve hundred Australians died in the battle and the town has not forgotten Australia, naming its main street Rue de Melbourne.

This moving story is about Henri and Billy, two boys who never meet. Great writing and beautiful illustrations draw the reader into the boys’ worlds and bring them and their stories to life.

Instead of a building and children and trees, his school was little more than a pile of rubble. It was as if a giant had squeezed the schoolhouse in its hand and scattered the splintered remains.

Illustrator, Sonia Kretschmar captures the mood and the situation with sensitivity and realism in her compelling pictures.

Clearly, both author and illustrator have meticulously researched for Do Not Forget Australia, and it’s not just an account of history, it’s a beautiful story with messages of courage, generosity and hope.

Do Not Forget Australia is a powerful book with positive themes and introduces young readers to a part of their country’s history in an engaging way.

Sally Murphy is visiting Kids’ Book Capers as part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Do Not Forget Australia


1st March 2012 Let’s Have Words

2nd March 2012 Kids Book Capers

3rd March 2012 Running With Pens

4th march 2012 Read and Write with Dale

5th March 2012 Karen Tyrrell

6th March 2012 Writing for Children

7th March 2012 Spinning Pearls

8th March 2012 Katwhiskers

12th March 2012 Pass It On

12th March 2012 Kids Book Review

13th March 2012 Under the Apple Tree

14th March 2012 Lorraine Marwood. Words into Writing