Book Review: “The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace”
By Melissa Mikel, FSWC Director of Education
Author Linda Granfield and illustrator Brian Deines beautifully capture the story of Lieutenant Leslie Miller and his “Vimy oaks.” As a Canadian soldier in France during the First World War, Miller kept a diary. This was a common practice for soldiers. He wrote about the battles he fought in and the destruction of towns and villages that he travelled through. He also noted important symbols of life that he saw around him: the people he met and the landscape around him including wildflowers and – most importantly – trees. He wrote about beech trees, elm trees, chestnut trees . . . and oak trees.
One day, after the long battle for Vimy Ridge, Miller picked up a handful of acorns at the base of some oak trees that had been blasted by bombs, and mailed them home to his family in Toronto.
When the First World War came to an end and Miller returned home to his family farm, he tended to the acorns that had travelled across the ocean. These acorns grew into saplings, which grew into trees, in tribute to which Miller named his farm “Vimy Oaks.” The journey of these Vimy acorns, however, did not end at the Miller farm . . . you must read the story to learn the rest of the journey.
Granfield’s compelling narration of Miller’s story coupled with Deines’ haunting oil-on-canvas illustrations, as well as historical photographs and documentation from this time period, bring this history to life. While the story is about war, it is also a journey of hope and resilience that allows readers to connect to this history in a meaningful way.
The Vimy Oaks Discussion Guide: https://www.scholastic.ca/kids/discussionguides/pdfs/Granfield-So-You-Have-to-Talk-About-War_CCBC-booklists.pdf
The Vimy Oaks Word Search Activity
Article: How Linda Granfield keeps history alive