Nov. 8, 2012
Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
brings to life the story of World War I humanitarian
Moina Belle Michael
The Poppy Lady
(Calkins Creek Books), and a portion of proceeds will go to support the National Military Family Association's
The title comes from the nickname Moina earned working for more than 25 years to establish the poppy as a universal tribute to U.S. war veterans.
In this book, illustrated by
, Walsh shares her account of a woman who lived by the motto:
Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might
. Moina's community service began at age 15 when she started teaching – a career that would span more than five decades. Though she prayed war would never come, Moina refused to sit by as soldiers risked their lives to serve their country. Volunteer work with the YMCA provided opportunities to knit socks and roll bandages for the Red Cross, but it wasn't enough.
Already in her late forties when war was declared, Moina's best hope to assist was an appointment through the YMCA Overseas War Workers. Although her age barred her from overseas service, Moina was sent to the training headquarters for the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries organization. There Moina read a poem by Lieutenant Colonel
, written as a tribute to the soldiers he could not save on the battlefield of
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Inspired, Moina vowed to have the poppy become a national emblem of remembrance to honor and support war veterans. To this day, veterans stand outside stores during the weeks before
, and distribute poppies, raising millions of dollars for other veterans and their families.
Barbara Elizabeth Walsh's
inspiration for The Poppy Lady came at age 10, when while searching for a school "Show and Tell" item; she came across a postcard from
Moina Belle Michael
that was addressed to Walsh's mother during the time her father was serving in World War II. Barbara spent several years as a teacher before writing full time. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, including Highlights for Children and Cricket.