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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog

eXtreme X-overs continued

“The Poppy Lady was quite a challenge,” Layne Johnson said. “Learning historic info on a character with limited photo reference was difficult but I wanted to make sure the reader was exposed to full color paintings. In other words, not sepia toned art or photos, which is what we often see. Life back then was like life now, in color! With a lot of research I think I achieved an emotional result that accurately places the viewer there. Barbara Walsh's beautiful text, THE POPPY LADY, is a true memorial to Moina Belle Michael and all veterans.”

A portion of the book's proceeds will support the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.

“In the attic of my childhood home there was a box labeled ‘Pat-World War II.’ My Dad’s service in the Army, as part of the Signal Corp, had taken him to the Philippines, New Guinea, and Los Negros Island. The box contained his war mementos,” Barbara Walsh said.

“When my fifth grade teacher asked our class to bring in a war-related item to share during Show and Tell, my Dad gave me permission to search through his box. I decided on a postcard with a red poppy pinned to one corner. It was addressed to my Mom and signed, ‘Pat’s Poppy Lady.’

”When I handed the postcard to my Dad he became very emotional,” Barbara said. “And then he told me a story about the kind woman who had helped him cope when his two brothers had been taken prisoners of war. The story touched my heart.

“Fifty years later, when I began writing for children, my Dad asked me to tell young readers about Moina. The red poppy had become a universal symbol of tribute and support for veterans,” Barbara said. “My Dad wanted Moina remembered for all she had done and continued to do for veterans, soldiers, and their families.

“It took eight years to research and write THE POPPY LADY, and from the first draft my Dad watched over my writing. But there was a surprise waiting for him. Working from a WWII photo of my Dad, Layne Johnson painted him on the Author's Note page, as the soldier accepting a poppy from Moina. The look on my Dad’s face, when he held a copy of the book in his hands, transported me back to my childhood, when he first introduced me to his ‘Poppy Lady,’” Barbara said.

“My dad will turn ninety-nine-years-old in July, and the memory of Moina’s kindness lives on in his heart.”

Although I talked about PBs as extreme cross-overs, the same can be said of many YA (young adult) novels. More and more YAs include high concept plots. Many are very literary in writing style. And statistics are showing that more and more adult readers are reading YA. (I talked to a mother in a bookstore this past weekend who told me that her daughter turned her on to YA and now that’s all she reads. Then the three of us book-talked in the YA aisle. Love it!)

So, for those who are stumped as to what to buy your father or grandfather or great-grandfather this year, I hope you’ll consider a book that appeals to all ages. And in 2014, please take a look at NO SURRENDER SOLDIER for an extreme cross-over gift. (Available at Amazon for pre-order now.) It includes a WWII Japanese soldier who survived for 28 years in the jungles of Guam, a USAF navigator stationed in Vietnam, a grandfather struggling with dementia, and a fifteen-year-old boy who wants to avenge his mother’s rape during the occupation of Guam during WWII. This riveting, suspenseful story is one for ages 13 and up. And by “up,” I mean crossing over generations of boys and men who enjoy losing themselves in a good story.

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