Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman by Raymond Briggs

This book tells the story of the Falklands War  in the format of a picture book which I would use with middle or upper primary students. The style is simplistic with the text being accompanied by bold, and vivid illustrations. Whilst neither The Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas), or the waring countries of  Britain or Argentina are mentioned in the text, their leaders, Margaret Thatcher and Argentine dictator, General Leopoldo Galtieri are presented as a pair of metal giants who send troops to fight over the "sad little island" which is inhabited by shepherds who eat nothing but mutton. In the text the old woman who is "not real" but made of iron, alludes to Maggie Thatcher's nickname as "the Iron Lady" which derives from Thatcher's nickname "The Iron Lady", while the General who is also "not real and made of tin pots"alludes to the term "tin-pot general" (another word for an autocrat.) The book shows how soldiers from both sides were killed or maimed. These are the "real men"  The pictures portraying these men are drawn in monochrome pencil sketches as opposed to the full-colour "loud" caricatures of the wearing leaders which dominate the other pages. After the victory by the soldiers of the Old Iron Woman, there are numerous celebrations, to which the maimed are not invited because the reality and disturbing nature of their injuries "would spoil the rejoicing. The stubborn  refusal of both sides to accept responsibility for the civilian casualties is mocked with  statement that three of the islanders were killed, but that "nobody was to blame". I am proud to add this great book to my Raymond Briggs collection. The follow clip of this guy reading the book  is worth a watch.

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