Now Barbara Elizabeth Walsh has written a book detailing how Moina earned her nickname. Walsh begins with a brief introductory prologue describing Moina's life up to World War I. Moina was a well-educated girl from Good Hope, Georgia who began teaching the children of neighbors in 1885 in an old slave cabin at the age of 15. By the time World War I broke out, she was a university professor at the University of Georgia.
The rest of The Poppy Lady is a narrowly focused narrative about Moina's attempt to do something meaningful for the soldiers who fought in the Great War. It begins Moina's story with the start of the war, while she was traveling through Europe. Still disturbed by what she had seen of the fighting after she returned home, Moina was determined to do something for the soldiers after the US entered the war in 1917. Like many women on the home front, Moina knitted warm items, rolling bandages, collected books and magazines and even invited soldiers home for a meal, but she continued to feel she could do more.
So off she went to New York and set up a welcoming place in Hamilton Hall, Columbia University, where soldiers could come and relax, talk and get information. But even though it was a hugh success, but Moina wanted to do still more.
One day she read the poem "We Shall Not Sleep" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor, which honors the soldiers fallen on the battlefields of Flanders, Belgium. Moved and inspired, Moina began wearing and giving out poppies as a tribute to those soldiers. Other began to follow her example and eventually the poppy was adopted around the world as a symbol of honor and remembrance for the fallen members of the armed services.
What a wonderful introductory biographical account of Moina Belle Michael's work during and after World War I Barbara Elizabeth Walsh has written about this not well known lady who did so much.
Layne Johnson's lavishly detailed oil on canvas painting do much to capture Moina's spirit. Just look at the exuberant expression on her face on the cover of The Poppy Lady or in the image below:
A picture books illustrations do so much in furthering the telling of a story and that is certainly true here. Together with Walsh easily accessible text, Moina's determination simply shines through, making The Poppy Lady a truly inspirational book for young readers that shows how one person can make a big difference.
This book is recommended for readers age 7-10.
This book was sent by the publisher.
To learn more about the poppy and Moina Belle Michael be sure to visit The Great War 1914-1918
You can find out more about author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh here.
Be sure to visit artist Layne Johnson to see more of his work from The Poppy Lady
This week's Non-Fiction Monday round-up is hosted by Booktalking
Excellent review once again Alex. For me this would be a facilitating book as I could regale my kids with tales of wisdom on our long drives.ReplyDelete
They love those stories, really... they do. I tell that to myself everyday.
Thanks, Zohar, This is a well done biography. But I know what you mean, I have been on those drives myself. But seriously, this is a geat book for kids, especially around your daughter's age, a great subject for a book report (do they still do book reports?)Delete
What an amazing story! I’m always proud to wear a poppy but had never considered the origin before. How fascinating.ReplyDelete
I thought the same thing. I always bought my poppy and wore it, but never knew what the poppy was such an important symbol. Needless to say, I have done more research into the matter and that post will be coming soon.Delete
I have this book. Love it! I also know the author has poured a huge amount of love and labor into pulling this book together. Your review is a terrific affirmation of her efforts and her passion.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Joyce. I remember reading your post about this book and the author. I thought it was so beautifully done, and the illustraions that depicted her text were so complimentrary, it really brought history to life for me. You can definitely feel her passion in itDelete
Ditto to everything Joyce said. It's beautifully written and beautifully illustrated - a testament to a beautiful person who saw a need and selflessly filled it.ReplyDelete
Yes, It is such a wonderful book. And you are right, it does fill a nee.most people don't know much about the history of the poppy. I am sorry to say that included me and I always buy a poppy for Memorial and Veterans Days.Delete
This sounds great! I will be ordering it for the Doucette Library (curriculum library). I've never heard of Moina Belle Michael and always associated it more strongly with the poem, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. Two other books that may be of interest are written by Canadian author Linda Granfiled, Where Poppies Grow and In Flanders Fields: the story of the poem of John McCrae. Both are very informative and well written for upper elementary and middle grades.ReplyDelete
Apples with Many Seeds
Thanks, Tammy. I had always associated the poppy with the poem In Flanders Fields, too. For that reason, I think it is an important book for kids, not to take anything away from John McCrae. I think they are perfect together AND Moina was inspired by the poem when she read it, so much so it was the reason she began to work on making the poppy the symbol it became.ReplyDelete
I have heard of Linda Granfield and her books, which look to be really excellent. Sadly, despite sharing a border with Canada, it is sometimes difficult to find Canadian books in this country. And there are so many good Canadian books to read.
This book sounds delightful. I love the pictures and the colors. I have read In Flanders Field before and would really enjoy reading this one. I think it is so important to read these books with kids. :)ReplyDelete
Yes, it is definitely delightful and I think an important book, too and one that really finds in a historical need.Delete
You made my heart sing with your beautiful review, Alex. Thank you, thank you, thank you!ReplyDelete
And a quick comment on Linda Granfield and her book, In Flanders Fields. When I first visited a local library and spoke with the head librarian about my interest in writing a book about Moina she pointed to Linda's book on display and suggested I use it as an example. I reached out to Linda right away, and we’ve been in contact ever since.
I am glad you were pleased with my review. I really found this book fascinating and I love to learn something new when I read and I certainly did in this case.Delete
As for the Linda Granfield books, sometimes it really surprises me how not available some things are in NYC, yet readily available in other places. Now that I have time, I am going to get the ones I want through interlibrary loan. I am very curious about them now.
Sounds like one I would enjoy (the historical setting and illustrations are right down my alley). And I love poppies!ReplyDelete
The Flanders Poppy became the Flower of Remembrance in the then-Empire family of nations, at war 1914 through 1918. It was inspired by publication in Punch, London UK December 8 1915, anonymously, composed seven months earlier by Canadian physician/poet/CEF army officer JohnReplyDelete
McCrae. [Interestingly, he 'Replies' to it himself with 'The Anxious Dead' published in the Spectator in the UK in 1917 - keep the faith -continue to fight this war so we the dead do not feel our lives have given in vain...]
Once the US joined the conflict, its people went mad for it, tossing off poems and musical scores, even Sousa.
What introduced brought the token lapel was the work of a charitable worker for orphans of Fallen French soldiers, Mme. Anna Guerin. She made a profit-sharing Poppy Tag Day arrangement with 1917 Great War Veterans Association in early July 1921, and then with the British and Dominions of Australia and New Zealand delivering thousands of replicas for use on "Armistice Day" as it was known in early years. These countries and others carry on the tradition to this day with slight variations in their nationl poppy designs and main 'day of the Fallen'.
One cannot understand Miss Michael's interest without examining the painting used in the Bauer & Black marketing advertisement that happened to be place in that Thanksgiving Day Ladies' Home Journal - and see the sloppy errors about the Canadian, even changing the title.
Philip Lyford was the artist, his subject Doughboys, and you can find it online - so different from the imagery of the CEF officer at the Belgian
Canada, which adopted the Poppy lapel device for November 11 1921, credits a French "Poppy Lady", Mme Anna Guerin of Paris France forReplyDelete
promoting and providing replicas nationwide. She is named on a plaque
at the Prince Arthur Hotel in now-Thunder Bay Ontario celebrating the Great War Veterans Association, place by the sucessor group, the Legion. In the US their counterpart veteran group endorsed her plan, but politics interfered, and the Americans abandoned "Armistice Day" for their 19th century internicine war. It did not stick as a symbol, with attempts to impose it top down on especially on families of the dead soldiers.
You can read an image the original publication of the Canadian war poem in PUNCH in the UK December 8 1915, if you search online. Hardly about war veterans as the Empire countries were just into the second year of that war. Look up McCrae's 'The Anxious Dead' of 1917 for a similar thought about the fallen. He himself will be a war dead by January 1918.