The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans

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Overview

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, ...

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Overview

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.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefi ts children of the U.S. military.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Since WWI, red poppies have been used to commemorate fallen soldiers; Walsh explains why in a glowing tribute to the woman behind the symbol, Moina Belle ?Michael, a professor at the University of ?Georgia who "wanted to do more" for the men in uniform, and who went on to contribute to the war effort in several ways. Johnson's oil paintings offer several dramatically lit, almost beatific portraits of Michael, as well as one scene of a somber WWI battlefield, covered with red poppies and white crosses, the source of Michael's inspiration (along with John McCrae's poem "We Shall Not Sleep"). Ages 7–11. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Since WWI, red poppies have been used to commemorate fallen soldiers; Walsh explains why in a glowing tribute to the woman behind the symbol, Moina Belle Michael. . . Johnson’s oil paintings offer several dramatically lit, almost beatific portraits of Michael" —Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
Gr 4–5—Most children have seen red poppies for sale around Veterans Day, but how many of them know how they came to be associated with veterans? During World War I, many American soldiers died fighting near the border of Belgium and France. These men were buried, nameless, in a cemetery called Flanders Field that was memorialized in a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Red poppies grew wild in the cemetery, and they inspired Michael to honor and remember the men buried there. She began to sell poppies as a way to assist veterans who came home wounded from the war and unable to work. Michael wanted these young men to be remembered and she worked tirelessly to see that they were. While this book is not one that children will necessarily be drawn to on their own, it is one that can be used to talk about Veterans Day, included in a study of World War I, and to foster talk about what it means to serve your country. Johnson's lush and vivid illustrations on oversize spreads depict the world at that time-the soldiers going off to war, the women working on the home front, and period dress. The copious back matter allows students to read further. A portion of the proceeds for this book will go to a charity that supports the needs of children of the military.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Imbued with an unwavering sense of duty and patriotism, a woman conceives a lasting tribute to war veterans. Georgia schoolteacher Moina Michael, deeply saddened at the outbreak of World War I, wanted to help departing soldiers. She rolled bandages, knitted socks and sweaters, and boosted morale by delivering books, food and goodwill. These efforts, even combined with waving farewell at train stations, weren't enough; Michael yearned to do more. Working with the YMCA in New York City, she offered support and kindness to soldiers. A chance rereading of the famous wartime poem "In Flanders Fields," with its images of poppies on graves, galvanized Michael into action, and she devoted herself to seeing that a red poppy became a symbol to memorialize the war dead. Her idea eventually led to the public distribution of paper poppies to raise funds for veterans and military families, a tradition that continues in some communities. Michael's moral force and commitment are commendable and noteworthy, but this is a well-meaning, though only serviceably written, overwrought book that will resonate more with adults. Children of military families may take it more to heart than other youngsters, especially those unfamiliar with the tradition. The heroic oil paintings are colorful, and Michael looks nothing less than beatific. Of possible interest where poppies are distributed around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. (prologue, epilogue, author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590787540
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 381,653
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara E. Walsh has fond memories of poppies and parades honoring her father and other veterans. During WWII her father knew Moina Michael, the poppy lady. A former elementary-school teacher, Barbara has written articles for Highlights for Children and Cricket. The Poppy Lady is her first children's book. She and her husband live in Mantoloking, New Jersey, and Key Largo, Florida.

Layne Johnson has created art for more than twenty books for children, including the Western Heritage Award winning Off Like the Wind, The First Ride of the Pony Express (by Michael P. Spradlin) and the acclaimed Farmer George Plants a Nation (by Peggy Thomas), a picture book biography of George Washington's life as a farmer, inventor, and scientist. Mr. Johnson speaks frequently in schools and libraries and enjoys traveling to historic sites. He lives in Texas with his wife. You can visit him on the web at: www.laynejohnson.com.

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