Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace

Granfield, Linda (Author)
Deines, Brian (Illustrator)
Scholastic Canada 2017. 36 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781443148504 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 940.4
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, conflict, layout, setting, stance

Award

The Forest of Reading – The Silver Birch Express Award Nominee – 2018

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Moving back and forth through the decades between The Great War of 1914-18 and today, this creative non-fiction picture book recounts Canadian soldier Leslie Miller’s experience—and how his reverence for the ancient trees of France have become a living symbol of recovery.

Nature and war are an unusual coupling of themes, but this book manages beautifully, conveying respect for the Canadian contribution to the Allies’ fight, with a haunting sense of loss. A combination of storytelling language and information-rich captions convey engaging facts about life in the Army’s Signal Corps (“The heliograph used sunlight, a mirror and shutters … to send messages via Morse code”) and Leslie’s appreciation of the natural world surrounding him, as quoted from his own diaries: “the light so strangely softened and diffused, and the gentle rustling of the leaves so soothing.”)

Painted illustrations use a soft-edged realism to portray Canadian farm landscapes and European battle scenes alike. One image shows Leslie smiling as he looks at a bright green acorn; a bombed-out building looms in the background. Another depicts Leslie’s oak trees flourishing on his farm in Ontario: “Passersby didn’t know they were shaded by more … they were in the presence of history.” Historic and contemporary photographs support the story, which finishes with the repatriation of Leslie Miller’s trees to Vimy Ridge and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, one hundred years after he saved them in France: “a Canadian soldier who once held hope and rebirth in the palm of his hand.”

  •  

    Discuss what causes war. Do you know anything about any particular war? What do you know about World War I?

  •  

    The destruction of war can create an opportunity to rebuild in new ways, take a new direction. Discuss a situation in your life or that you have read/heard about, that has led to starting over, differently.

  •  

    Research the period discussed in this book. How was life then similar or different? Given the choice, would you live in that time period or now?

  •  Why are books like this important? Write a text to argue that this book is an important part of your library. Present a copy to your librarian.
  •  

    Discuss what causes war. Do you know anything about any particular war? What do you know about World Wars I and II?

  •  

    On a picture walk, discuss the illustrations and make connections to what you know about history.

  •  Leslie Miller was a signaller. How is communication important in this context? Research the various languages and codes that could be used.
  •  

    After reading, create a character map for Leslie Miller. Differentiate the information from his before, during and after war life.

  •  

    Mr. Miller wrote about things that interested him. What would you write about? Choose one person, place or thing that is of interest to you and write (three or more) journal entries to describe him/her/it from different angles.

  •  

    Research Canada’s role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and share your findings in small groups. As a Canadian, would you have chosen to go and fight in that war? Why or why not?

  •  

    While you read, look carefully at the black-and-white pictures and imagine living in that time. What do you feel? Does this provide insight into Leslie Miller’s thoughts?

  •  

    Do some further research on the repatriation of the Vimy Oaks project and, with a partner, present your findings to the class in the form of a digital slide presentation.

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Social Sciences