Review Blog

Mar 13 2012

The red poppy by David Hill

cover image

Ill. by Fifj Colston. Scholastic, 2012. ISBN 978 1 86943 998 9.
Picture book, ANZAC. Waiting for the whistle that will send them over the top of the trenches and for some, their deaths, Jim, recalls writing to his mother and sister the night before. Of course he has told them nothing of the coming battle, of his fears, or his life in the trenches. He like many others talks about things his family will want to hear, and keeps his fears to himself.
Published with a CD containing the song on which this book is based, this beautifully produced book will serve well on ANZAC Day and at any time World War One is under discussion in the classroom. The stunning illustrations are done in chalk and pencil, using photographs of the time. With edges of almost torn paper the impression of being taken from a photo frame, or being ephemeral, is given to the reader. The illustrations are haunting and realistic, emotional and sparing no pain as we see men shot and surviving in shell holes between the trenches.
The red poppy taken by the dog as a signal, gets Jim and the German he befriends, rescued, adding another layer of meaning to the story, that of friendship between adversaries. The dog too will be remembered by students as they recall that animals are often used in wartime in a variety of roles.
Fran Knight

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