The night before the battle,
Jim McLeod wrote to his mother and his sister Edith.
He said nothign about the day to come, nor the mud’and the rats> he didn’t mention the piles of stretchers
waiting for the dead and wounded…
Jim McLeod waits in the trenches waiting for the order to attack the enemy. As he waits, he spies a patch of red poppies that the battle has left untouched. Later, as he scurries across no-man’s land, he takes refuge in a crater right where the poppies were. As he lies wounded he realises he is sharing his hole with an enemy soldier, also wounded. Forging an unlikely alliance, the pair figure a way to seek help, with the aid of a rescue dog and one of those red poppies.
The Red Poppy is a beautiful picture book offering about war and humanity. The two soldiers come from opposite sides of the conflict but, in spite of language difficulties, realise they have more in common than they could have imagined, and help each other to stay alive. The story doesn’t hold back on the horrors of war and its impact. The sepia toned illustrations, brightened with the reds of the poppies, reflect the time period and the serious nature of the subject matter, as well as helping readers to understand why the red poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance. At the back of the books are the lyrics for a song, ‘Little Red Poppy’, by Rob Kennedy, and a CD recording of the song is included.
Released in plenty of time for Anzac Day, this is an excellent educational resource which is also suitable for private reading.
The Red Poppy, by David Hill, illustrated by Fifi Colston
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.