"Across northern France, poppies bloom in the fields where once, many years ago, millions of men fought and died."
So begins my picture book, The Poppy. Agreed, not the cheeriest opening, but it is ultimately an uplifting true story of remembrance and commemoration. It's taken over two years of researching, designing, and painting, plus two trips to France and the subject of the story, the small town of Villers-Bretonneux. If you haven't heard of it yet, you will over the next few years as Australia begins its commemoration of the Centenary of the First World War. Follow the link to see a few of the 70 paintings and several reviews. The Poppy is out now through Ford Street Publishing.
Another stunning new picture book for everyone’s Anzac Day collection … The individual illustrations boxed in a black background tell much of the story, making this a highly effective visual text. Andrew Plant has handled this piece of history with a gentle finesse, creating a non-fiction text that will speak volumes to all readers. This one is a must for your 2014 collection.
The book’s simple message: Villers-Bretonneux never forgets and nor should we, is delivered with such pure intent and sentiment that it takes your breath away. The artwork is stunning and the text is simple enough for primary aged children, while still delivering a deep message … Many of the paintings depict how ingrained the importance of remembering is to the people of Villers-Bretonneux … They are powerful and heartfelt and touch deep inside. It is a book so extraordinary and pure that I for one will always reach for it, as it is has penetrated deep into my very being ... One can only hope that this book becomes a standard resource in all schools. I cannot recommend it highly enough as a book teaching children the significance of remembering and its positive impact on life.
The Poppy is a new book from author/illustrator Andrew Plant. It’s difficult to describe. It’s not a standard picture book, but it’s not quite a graphic novel either. It’s set in the present, but deals with the past. It recounts actual events, but is presented in a ‘storybook’ context. Having said all that, what it definitely is… is utterly BRILLIANT! ... The design of the book is quite striking ... The artwork is glorious. The words are heartfelt and touching. There is so much depth in this book. So much to discuss. At the end of the book is a summary of the battle and the links forged between countries — perfect for classroom discussion. This is a book that every school in Australia should be studying.
The Poppy is a war story close to home, but a war story largely untold … Plant’s language is accessible, simple in its retelling but poetic in its delivery. The visual imagery he creates with his words is impeccable ... The Poppy is a book of remembrance and togetherness; a book about the sacrifices that are made in war and the people that never forget these. It’s a book perfect for primary school readers and one that belongs in the history section of every library.
Andrew Plant has dedicated his beautifully written and illustrated story of the Australian connection with the northern French town of Villers-Bretonneux to the memory of our Diggers, but also to the hope that today’s children, including his own daughter, will be able to grow up in peace ... The written text of The Poppy, while amply informative, is spare, deliberately saving the bulk of the visual space for the many exquisitely executed paintings, which become the principal markers of the rhythm and emotional movement of the narrative ... My eight year-old grand-daughter’s reading of The Poppy proved to me how successfully Andrew Plant has made a historically and emotionally complex story accessible to the young. She was saddened by the lasting effects of the war ... but she felt comforted, too, by the positive images of the flags flying together ... and the shared friendship and curiosity of the two little girls.
[T]his new book by illustrator Andrew Plant is aptly named, beautifully told and superbly illustrated … Starting on the front cover with the brilliant red of the poppy set in front of ghostly images of other poppies entwined in barbed wire and against a background of stormy black skies, this is a beautiful “photo-essay” of the story of Villers-Bretonneux … Except the photos are not photos – they are eerily haunting paintings … Bordered in black and accompanied by simple text in white, their bright colours are a stunning contrast which suggests feelings of hope and future and endurance ... this [book] that encapsulates all that we associate with the poppy is a must-have.
Simply told, this is a beautifully moving story ... A stunning picture book, it contains over 70 paintings … Black borders adorn all the full colour paintings ... These borders bring a unique elegance to every aspect of the publication. This book of historical events is a valuable resource for young children. The uncomplicated presentation of the story complemented by the exceptional visuals makes learning and remembering events easy. It will be treasured by lovers of quality children’s books.