The Invisible War
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More About This Title The Invisible War


An illustrated science-history graphic novel exploring parallel experiences during WWI. The story takes place on two different physical scales - the macro-scale, from the point of view of a Victorian nurse supporting troops in the trenches of the Western Front - and simultaneously on the micro-level, from the point of view of the gut microbes which fight to keep her body alive when she contracts dysentery. This fictional story is based on accurate scientific and historical facts, in consultation with academic experts from Australia, France, UK and the USA.


Ailsa Wild - Writer

Ailsa Wild is the author of the successful Squishy Taylor series which was launched in 2016 and has already sold more than 60,000 copies. Squishy Taylor is for 6-10 year olds, about the adventures of daredevil, problem-solving Squishy and her bonus sisters (published by Hardie Grant Egmont).They will be published in the USA, UK and Spain in 2017. Ailsa is a writer, performer and community artist who loves collaboration. She makes stories with scientists, musicians, kids and circus performers. Her first publications, with Small Friends Books, are science adventures starring microbes, molecules and mucus, where the bacteria are the heroes. She is the co-director of Teacup Tumble Physical Theatre who have performed their science-inspired shows ‘It’s not Circus It’s Science’ and ‘Dimensional’ across regional Victoria, Tasmania and NSW. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, The Monthly and on stages across Australia. She has a Masters of Creative Media (creative writing) from RMIT and years of collaboration under her belt.


"The Invisible War breaks ground on so many to make it a candidate for the first truly modern, 21st century graphic novel."
Dorion Sagan (author)

Reading Time review (Children's Book Council of Australia)
Set in a WWI British Casualty Clearing Station in France in 1916, this graphic novel charts the journey of Sister Annie Barnaby, from before she contracts dysentery from eating infected cheese to her recovery from this often fatal illness. The team responsible for this novel don’t just chart her illness; they go inside Annie’s body to describe and visually illustrate the microscopic processes in great detail through Ben Hutchings’ wonderful drawings. While this internal ‘war’ is described, historical facts about WWI are also woven into the story – from a British doctor’s reluctance to accept the microscope and the agar plate as new tools to diagnose diseases, to soldier’s diets at the time, conscription, mobile laboratories and treatment for dysentery. It’s a roller-coaster ride through the harsh realities of war at that time.
It’s also wonderful to see a book written for youth tackle the complex subject of viruses and the human microbiota in such an entertaining way. No bacteria is left unturned in this book, and the explanations in the Appendix about ideas, phrases and concepts covered in the story (there are numbered circles that appear throughout the story, and these correspond to the information in the Appendix) add to the understanding of the often complex processes and information presented. History and English, and Science teaching resources are also available on the book’s website.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the human gut, microbiology, viruses, cross infection and WWI Western Front history.

Small Things Considered review (by Daniel Haeusser)
The graphic novel unfolds on two levels: a macro level from the point of view of a Victorian nurse during World War I, and a micro level from the point of view of the resident gut microbes (including the roles of phage) that fight to keep the nurse alive when she contracts dysentery. Many scientists, artists, and funding agencies came together to produce The Invisible War. The product is beautiful, and an entertaining and informative read. Microbiologists or history aficionados who are also comic book fans should particularly love this. The internal illustrations are in black and white, meaning that in the hands of some it may also make a nice coloring book!