Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Where Poppies Grow A World War I Companion

Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companionis a picture book about World War I suitable for all ages. I know more people are using picture books with older children, but this book lends itself very well as it uses pictures, drawings, and pictures of historical artifacts from the period to help illustrate what life was like for those who lived during World War I.

This book takes an interesting approach to the topic. It presents a brief vague discussion about the origins of World War I, but then it dives into what life was like for those who lived it with a heavy emphasis on the lives of Canadians. The book is divided into 2 page sections with the text primarily used to discuss the pictures. The sections are titled Kits and Kilts, To England's Green Fields, Across the Channel to Flanders and the Trenches, The Routine of Daily Life, Over the Top, On Flanders Fields, Warfare on the Seas, And in the Air, You Have Suffered Terribly, Propaganda and Patriotism, Keep the Home Fires Burning, A Child's World, Mum's the Word, The Poppy Poem, Angels, Statues, and Songs in the Night, Spies, Traitors, Or Not?, Man's Best Friend, Dear Cora A Soldier Doesn't Return, Dear Amy A Soldier Does Return, The Budding of Remembrance, and In Solemn Tribute

While many people do use children's books with older children what I thought made this book unique is the topics and the pictures chosen do make it a more useful book for a wider range of ages. The material is suitable for younger children as it doesn't dwell long on the harsher realities of war. It is unique for older students in the materials it uses to discuss the topics. The book begins with an 8th grade graduation photograph and the caption makes it clear that this may be the final education some of these students will ever have because they will not return from the war. For students closer in age to these children pictured it is a connection younger students may not make.

The pictures are the outline of the story and the text supports the pictures. The pictures aren't generic photographs of the trenches, but they are chosen to provide the reader with a feel for confinement both armies lived under and the challenges and dangers that created.

I was quite pleased to see how much attention the role of the female nurses got in this book. Field Hospital nursing in war conditions was a dangerous, physically, and mentally challenging role for women who were pushing their way out of traditional Victorian roles and looking for new roles in society. It was a pleasant surprise to see a prominent role in a World War I picture books for the women who served.

For those of you looking for a history of World War I with the battles fought, causes for the War, ending with the Treaty of Versailles, this is not that book. It is a history of the people who fought and those who supported them on the home front. It tries to explain what life was like if you were living at the time of the war. In an age where we have come to expect instant communication this book reminds us about a time when soldiers where burying phone lines to communicate battle plans on the front. The only way to communicate with loved ones fighting was by censored mail and while we likely can't imagine living like that, it was actually pretty advanced technology for the time period. It is good to remember sometimes what life was like for others.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the blend of personal stories from letters, postcards, and artifacts people kept from the war. It makes the book an interesting and engaging read, not just for children. I thought these stories were the strongest in the book.

1 comment:

  1. Where do you find all these great history books? This is another one I am going to add to my 'to-read' list. I think our teen will also enjoy it. (Although he prefers to read about WWII, but I keep pushing that he learns more about WWI, too.)