Wednesday 17 January 2024

Wear a Purple Poppy by Fiona White

Wear a Purple Poppy began as a poem, written after I discovered the existence of the purple poppy while visiting the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. I’d instantly remembered my teenage heartbreak when I discovered that so many animals who went to war did not come home. The topic is a weighty one and I faced it the only way I know how – with words. Then, when I wore the purple poppy alongside the red poppy on remembrance days at the school where I work, the nonfiction element began to develop as the students asked me questions. In 2020 I was lucky enough to have an assessment and feedback session at the CYA Conference with Kate Stevens from Hachette. This was where the text began its journey to becoming a picture book.

Now the book, beautifully and sensitively illustrated by Kathleen O’Hagan, is due for release on February 24: National War Animal Day. Combining the poem with the nonfiction element explaining the roles of the different animals, it is a tribute to the animals who served alongside soldiers in war, and an explanation of why the small purple poppy means important, enormous, heart aching things.


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