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

by Barbara E Walsh (Author) Layne Johnson (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
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(R), which benefits children of the U.S. military.
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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.)

Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

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

Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"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
Barbara E Walsh
Barbara Elizabeth Walsh has fond memories of poppies and parades honoring her father and other veterans. During World War II 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. Visit
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Calkins Creek Books
Publication date
September 20, 2012
BISAC categories
JNF007110 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Social Activists
JNF025210 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/20th Century
JNF007120 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Women
JNF025130 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | Military & Wars
Library of Congress categories
United States
Michael, Moina Belle
Flanders Field American Cemetery (Waregem, Be
Keystone to Reading Book Award
Nominee 2014 - 2014

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