The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover, a lone red poppy flanked by shadow poppies on a background of black. It was so striking I wanted to read this book before I even knew what it was about.
The Poppy is an Anzac story. On 25th April, 1918, Australian soldiers freed the French village of Villers-Bretonneux from German occupation. One-third of the Australian solders died. But the relationship between the village and Australia didn’t end with the sorrow of the battlefield, it bloomed, like the poppy. After the war, Victorian schoolchildren raised money to restore the village classroom. In the playground and in every classroom are the words “Never Forget Australia.”
The people of Villers-Bretonneux never did. When fires razed the Victorian school of Strathewen Primary, they raised funds to help rebuild it.
This is a book that answers the question of whether Anzac Day is still relevant today. Two generations later, the bond the Anzacs forged is growing even stronger.
Reviewed by Sandy Fussell
Title: The Poppy
Author/Illustrator: Andrew Plant
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing $16.95 PB RRP, $26.95 HB
Publication Date: March 2014
Type: Historical non-fiction