Martens Merkel is a young boy who lives with his mother and grandfather in Flanders, Belgium. Their farm is situated on the site of a First World War battlefield and every year, an abundance of bright red poppies bloom in the fields. These delicate flowers feature in a moving poem, which was given to Martens’ great-grandmother Marie when she was a child during the war. They also mark the spot where Martens’ father was killed when his tractor drove over an unexploded shell, decades later.
Inspired by John McCrae’s war poem In Flanders Fields, this poignant story is ideal to share with young children to promote discussion about the impact of war and the nature of remembrance. Each page is beautifully illustrated with black and white drawings, which are elevated by glorious splashes of red, picking out details, such as the poppies, Marie’s hair ribbon and the poet’s pencil.
This touching tale is published in support of the Royal British Legion to coincide with the centenary of Armistice Day. A fascinating afterword explores the origins of John McCrae’s famous poem and explains how poppies have become a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.