In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae


32 pages
ISBN 1-895555-65-5
DDC C811'.52





Illustrations by Janet Wilson
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual’s
Children’s Literature edition.


“In Flanders fields the poppies blow ...” So begins one of
Canada’s most famous poems, written by Dr. John McCrae as he tended
the wounded on the Western Front in 1915. Linda Granfield’s book tells
John McCrae’s story: how this patriotic Canadian came to serve in both
the Boer War and World War I; how the poem represented his deepest
feelings about personal responsibility and the fight against evil; how
the British, Canadian, and American governments used his words, with his
consent, as a call to arms and investment in the war effort; and
finally, how McCrae himself was worn down by the war and died shortly
before he could take up a post as consulting physician to the First
British Army.

I cannot imagine a better introduction for children to the history of
World War I. Granfield includes a tremendous amount of fascinating
historical detail in the story. She also elegantly conveys, through the
story, the issues surrounding the war, and its devastating effects on
both individuals and countries. While she respects the sacrifices of
those who lie in Flanders fields, at the same time she suggests that war
is not necessarily a solution. Wilson’s paintings are beautiful and
evocative complements to the lines of the poem. The photographs and
posters also included add immeasurably to the project. A book to be read
on Remembrance Day each year, In Flanders Fields is highly recommended.


Granfield, Linda., “In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023,