I bought this book last year, when my son, then age 4 asked why we wear a poppy on our coats. It's a very difficult thing to explain to a child. I think he understands the book much more this year, and would really only recommend this from age 5+, but even now, he does not understand why people would want to shoot each other or gas each other with poison gasses. I am afraid I find these things difficult to understand, much less explain myself.
This book deals with an uncomfortable subject. I do think it does as good a job as possible at making the idea of remembrance understandable to very young children, without being overly distressful. There is one picture showing a row of men with blindfolds over their faces, and more laying on the ground, with their faces also wrapped in rags that upset my son a bit. I am glad I can tell this was a very long time ago. Thankfully this does not have more recent photos, like from Afghanistan. I have to admit a part of me wonders if I should have exposed a child to such concepts at such a young age. Then again at his age, all we did is play war, and I grew up on my grandfathers war stories, which I can assure you were much more detailed!
But if you decide you wish to teach your children about Remembrance Day, I think this book is well worth buying. The pages devoted to the war itself are limited, and I think this book focuses more on remembering and honouring those who have served. It also contains the famous verse "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, which speaks volumes in just 4 short lines. The book explains how poppies covered the fields in Flanders and gave something of beauty in the nightmare of the trenches, giving some men hope. It also explains how Poppies came to be used as sign of remembrance, and also to raise money to help the families of soldiers who have fallen, and to help those who have been hurt or injured. I was able to explain to my son, when we give money for the poppies, this money is used to help soldiers today.
This book is part of the "Beginning History" series, which aim to present key moments in history in a format that very young children can understand. The text is printed in large text, and simple enough that I would think most children could read it easily by age 7. The illustrations are almost all photographs, and so, as one would expect many are Black and White.
I can not say I enjoyed reading this book. Nor do I think my son especially enjoyed either. It is not a book that will be pulled down every night at story time. But is a book that serves it's purpose. It explains Remembrance Day, which is why I bought it. As an educational book I give this five stars - and after reading it I could give my son this reason for wearing poppies: