Where the Poppies Now Grow – Book Review



Where the Poppies Now Grow by Hilary Robinson

Hilary Robinson’s  book tells the story of Ben and Ray, two young boys. Starting with them playing we follow as they become caught up in the events of the Great War. The story begins simply with the children playing in the field where the poppies now grow. As the story continues the two friends sign up to the army and their childhood play at war becomes very real. 

Similarly to Hilary’s earlier series the story is created simply but with great emotion for the reader regardless of age. Martin Impey’s gentle watercolour drawing complement the poem perfectly with lots of hidden details and historic references particularly newspaper cuttings on the walls of the barn in the boys childhood and later in the barricades. Also the echoes of the barb wire in the trenches and in the countryside growing up.



 This book has come out at a perfect time as we remember the First World War and is a welcome addition to children’s books. The next book in the series will be called ‘The Christmas Truce’.

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Help a Hamster-Book Review


Hilary Robinson’s new picture book came out in August and I an very proud to endorse the title  and recommend this series as a whole. All the titles in the Copper Tree class series approach a sensitive and topical issue from a child’s point of view. The first book in the series The Copper Tree tells the story of the class teacher’s death, the children’s emotions and how they choose to remember her by creating a very special tree.  It is an incredibly sensitive and moving  book and you can read my full review here.

The next title in the series Christmas Surprise takes the very different topic of understanding between generations.  The story is set around a visit to a care home where the children learn about what the residents did when they were younger and also perform a Christmas play. The book emphasizes the relationship between the young and old. Full review here.


And so to the  latest title Help a Hamster. The book  is a gentle introduction to the issue of adoption.
Henry the class hamster is pregnant and the class with Alfie leading set about finding a new home for the baby hamsters. Alfie’s own story of his adoption is gently woven into the narrative as Alfie mentions his life book,  his adopted parents and birth mother. This builds  a sensitive parallel with story of Alfonso the baby hamster.


The beautiful illustrations by Mandy Staunton brings the story together perfectly, giving it a extra layer.
I watch in anticipation as Hilary and Mandy take each issue that young children may come across and create picture books which deal so sensitively and intelligently with each one. The books do not talk down to children nor do they use difficult language. Instead they contain bright coloured pictures and child friendly language. As always I look forward to Hilary and Mandy’s next title.

As it is National Adoption Week I leave you with some useful resources on adoption and fostering as well as some other children’s books which cover the issue.

National Adoption Week – Children’s Zone. Includes a video about three different children’s experience of adoption within the same family.

Letterbox Library -Fostering and Adoption  – Some titles related to adoption and fostering from Letterbox Library.

Motherbridge of Love – This stunning book  from Barefoot is based on an anonymous poem between the an adopted child and her parents.  Please note this is an affiliate link but I recommend it because I am completely in love with the book and the art work.

BAAF  Bookshop (British Association for Adoption & Fostering ) a huge range of titles, publications and advice on all issues related to adoption and fostering. Also the main BAAF website 

These are just a few resources so if you know of any others please get in touch and I will add them to the list.

The Copper Tree

Book Review

The Copper Tree

By Hilary Robinson and Mandy Stanley

I feel very honoured to have the chance to review this beautiful and moving picture book  about the death of a teacher. The book is written in very child friendly language from the point of view of a little girl Olivia . She  tells the story of a class teacher  Mrs Evans who is ill, how the children write to her and when she sadly dies they remember her life with the creation of the Copper Tree.  The story is sensitively written with moments of humour and poignancy. It teaches children that they are allowed to cry and discuses emotions. The illustrations are colourful and realistic, with lots of detail of a classroom and school life  which children will recognize.

This is a book should be available in every  primary school to help with the approaching the sensitive and confusing issue of death. The accompanying website  lists  resources including a recording of ‘ All Things Bright and Beautiful’, instructions to make a copper tree and links to helpful organizations.

The class sing Mrs Evans’ favourite song ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’

 The class get ready for the school panto but Alfie Tate who is always getting in trouble wants to be the giant.