book cover Scarecrow Army: The Anzacs at Gallipoli
by Leon Davidson

Novel | 192 pp | Years 5–8

Getting Started

Purchase Book
Please visit our new
online bookshop
to place order!


[ Overview | Author profile | Useful websites | Focus questions ]


What would it have been like to be at Anzac Cove? Scarecrow Army combines fact with fictionalised stories in this moving account of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli during World War 1. The personalised descriptions of the call-up, training in Egypt and the ill-fated landing provide a background to explore both the incompetence of the military strategists and the grim determination of the battling soldiers. Through the stories of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, the author explores the futility of war while recognising the personal heroism of individuals in times of extreme hardship and danger. Leon Davidson has combined fictional but highly believable accounts with historical facts and detailed descriptions of some of the major offences involving the New Zealand and Australian forces. As Davidson states in his introduction, “this is a story that's not just about names and dates, or myths, but about the lives of the Anzacs who fought there”.

The combination of personal histories, factual descriptions of events, photographs from the battle fields and quotes from original sources provides the reader with a variety of information and interpretations that takes history beyond dry facts. Scarecrow Army will appeal to many young adult readers, providing a rich source of material to help Australians and New Zealanders better understand their own, and each others', past and present connections.

Author profile

Leon Davidson was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. He moved to Australia for six years, living and working in Melbourne before returning to his native country. Leon has worked as a dishwasher, a house painter, in a call centre and in a chicken factory. Scarecrow Army was Leon Davidson's first published book and his second book, Red Haze, has just been released. Although he has always had an interest in war, it was not until he was exposed to Australia's interest in Gallipoli that he started to investigate New Zealand's part in that conflict. His childhood dreams of becoming a soldier have now changed and he is actively opposed to armed conflict.

Read an online interview with Leon Davidson and find out more about the writing of Scarecrow Army at Kids Friendly New Zealand (

Useful websites

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • Examine the front cover. How does the use of photographs provide clues to the type of book this may be?
  • What do you know about the Anzacs and Gallipoli?
  • Why do you think the Anzacs have been described as a 'scarecrow army'?
  • Read the blurb on the back cover. What emotive language is used and how do you think this indicates the views of the author?
  • What do you believe may be some of the myths about Gallipoli and the Anzacs? Compile the responses into a list to refer to later.

During and after reading the book

  • What is the meaning of the title? Explain your interpretation.
  • What are Leon Davidson's views about war? Justify your answer.
  • What does 'Anzac' stand for and what does it make you think of today?
  • What were some of the inventions the Anzacs made and why were they needed (for example, p 66, 70)?
  • How has the author differentiated between fact and fiction in the text? How does this affect the way you interpret the story?
  • What myths do you feel Scarecrow Army clarifies, removes or explains? Refer back to the class list to start the discussion.

© Curriculum Corporation 2006