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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Red flowers honor and remember

November 9, 2012

On the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918, a ceasefire agreement between Allied forces and Germany went into effect. This armistice ended the Great War which was to become known as World War I. Also in 1918 the red poppy became the symbol of remembrance for those who served.

It all started with one determined woman who wanted to contribute. This story and the legacy the woman developed is presented in a handsome, informative, and moving picture book biography by Barbara Walsh entitled The Poppy Lady (Calkins Creek).

The author's backstory is also interesting (and included). Walsh's father, a World War II veteran, actually met Moina Belle Michael, the Poppy Lady.

Readers first meet Moina Belle Michael as she was touring Europe in the summer of 1914. She was teaching in Georgia in 1917 when the United States finally became enmeshed in the war. As a canteen worker for the Y.M.C.A., in a New York City basement hall, Moina saw how fresh flowers brightened the place where service men and women came during their free time.

In Flanders Fields, a poem written during the Great War, inspired Moina to make red silk flowers and she became known as the Poppy Lady.

We no longer call November Armistice Day; it has become Veterans Day. But still, November 11 is a time to remember and say thank you to all who have served their country.

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"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo