With fall upon us, it’s time to hit the books again — the Perfect Picture Books, that is.
TITLE: THE POPPY LADY: MOINA BELLE MICHAEL AND HER TRIBUTE TO VETERANS
AUTHOR: Barbara Walsh
ILLUSTRATOR: Layne Johnson
PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2012
INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 7 to 11
GENRE: nonfiction picture book biography
OPENING and SYNOPSIS:
“Moina Belle Michael looked forward to summer vacation when she returned home from her third year of boarding school in 1885.”
From the publisher:
“When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.”
THEMES/TOPICS: history, biography
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I’ve used this book as a mentor text to help me shape a “slice of life” picture book biography I’m writing. Walsh’s use of a prologue to give readers a glimpse into Moina Belle’s girlhood is an effective technique for this type of biography. Walsh uses rhetorical questions and a repetitive phrase drives the pacing and page turns. Finally, Walsh has let Moina Belle’s voice shine through by incorporating her quotes throughout the main text. But this book isn’t just a must-read for writers. My seven-year-old snatched it out of the book return pile. He gives it two thumbs up too!
As a bonus part of the book’s proceeds go to the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, to help children of the U.S. military.
- A teacher’s guide is available through Walsh’s Web site.
- BBC One has a children’s World War I Web site with age-appropriate materials.
- Veterans’ Day is Nov. 11th. Why not find a way to honor a veteran or active service member. Children can write letters to soldiers and send them through A Million Thanks or send packages through Any Soldier.
You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!