The fourth book in this collection of stories about the First World War, 'Peace Lily' focuses on the contribution made by nurses during this conflict.
The story starts at Lily's birth and follows her childhood as she plays with friends, Ben and Ray. Lily's desire to be a nurse is clear and the idyllic scenes of rural life are brought to an end as Ben and Ray join up and head off to war, leaving Lily behind. Determined to do her bit, like so many other women, Lily joins up as a nurse. Working in a hospital tent she finds herself tending one of her old friends- Ben- who she nurses back to health. The story concludes with the end of the war and the beginning of their new lives together as Lily and Ben marry.
As with the other stories about Ben and Ray, the rhyming text flows beautifully, making it a joy to read aloud. Carefully chosen vocabulary makes the story accessible to children of all ages whilst allowing older children to explore Lily, Ben and Ray's experiences in more detail. The story does not shy away from the realities of war- Ben has lost a leg and other soldiers are shown with injuries and the conditions Lily nurses in are cramped, dirty and difficult.
The illustrations are just wonderful. Rich in detail, each spread is a joy to explore, poignant and beautiful. The early pictures capture the joy of childhood- the innocence of play and friendship; the later pictures hint at the horrors of war- the hardship and suffering- before returning to the joy of living in peace. Martin skilfully combines elements from the previous stories- Ben's mouse is here and Flo makes an appearance, for example, - as this book concludes the stories of these characters.
This is an amazing book with so much potential for use. These are characters that we care about and who are easy to engage with. Writing in role, research, persuasive writing, poetry... so many opportunities to be had for writing and the pictures could be used to develop inference skills as well as inspiring a generation of artists to come. Such a joy!
Peace Lily Hilary Robinson, illustrated by Martin Impey
Strauss House Productions ISBN: 978-0957124554
You can read another review of 'Peace Lily' here.
You can read our review of last year's Quality Fiction winner 'A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan' here.
You can read our review of the 2016 Poetry Category Winner, 'Flo of the Somme' here.