Thursday, May 18, 2023


 My family observes Memorial Day each year by hanging our flag. My heart is full thinking of the people who risk their lives to ensure the safety of our nation and its people. But--

I never thought about the origin of Memorial Day. My picture book book recommendation is for all of you who are like me. I missed a ton of books published during the pandemic when I was lying low.


Author: Leah Henderson

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Abrams books for Young Readers, 2021

The book opens with a  spread that includes a quote from Frederick Douglass, from his 1871 Decoration Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery and two paragraphs of historical context about the Civil War and Memorial Day. 

The story that drew me in begins on the next page.

"Nine days in a row.

Papa up early and gone again.

I still can't go with him, though. He said, "Eli, school's where you need to be--reading and counting." But I am counting. Right here. Day nine."

This work of historical fiction, imagining what it might have been like to experience the first Memorial Day, took my breath away. The inhumanity and humanity of man displayed in equal measures and unflinching honesty. I was spurred to learn about the historical place referenced, and what I learned stunned me again. I hope everyone enjoys learning this history as much as I did.


  • Brainstorm how you might remember those who lost their lives in service of our country. Some cemeteries use volunteers to place flags on veterans graves.
  • Brainstorm how you might help those currently in service of our country. Have an adult check for legitimate organizations on websites like Military Pen Pals
  • Research how other countries honor their veterans (we lived in the UK and were touched by the importance of Veterans Day there)
  • Research the origin story for another holiday
  • Read other patriotic picture books (Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator) and The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara E Walsh, Layne Johnson (illus) are two to start you off.) Do you have a favorite?

I enjoy hearing if you enjoyed this book recommendation. My review is part of Perfect Picture Book Friday created and hosted by author Susanna Leonard Hill. The opinion in the review is wholly my own.


  1. Oh, this book is beautiful. Leah Henderson's words and the art is so moving. Great rec! I also like the activities you've paired with it. Thank you, Wendy!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Jilanne! I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Leah Henderson is terrific, isn't she, Wendy? She, like you, is an MPBM graduate 😊 That opening is wonderful, isn't it? What a voice she has.

    1. I did not know that! I hope this book gets more attention. (MPBM is fabulous!)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.