Much has been written about war and remembrance, but very little of it has been for young children. As questions come from a young grandchild, his grandpa talks about how, as a very young man, he was as proud as a peacock in uniform, busy as a beaver on his Atlantic crossing, and brave as a lion charging into battle. Soon, the old man’s room is filled with an imaginary menagerie as the child thinks about different aspects of wartime. But as he pins medals on his grandpa’s blazer and receives his own red poppy in return, the mood becomes more somber.
Outside, the crowd gathered for the veterans’ parade grows as quiet as a mouse, while men and women — old and young — march past in the rain. A trumpet plays and Grandpa lays a wreath in memory of his lost friend. Just then, the child imagines an elephant in the mist. “Elephants never forget,” he whispers to his grandpa. “Then let’s be elephants,” says the old man, as he wipes water from his eyes and takes his grandson’s hand.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion has relevance to a growing number of families, as new waves of soldiers leave home.
Award-winning author Jane Barclay is a tea-drinking, dog-walking, house-cleaning, lawn-cutting, short-order cook and writer. Besides writing books for children, she also does freelance work and her articles have appeared in both The Gazette and The National Post. Jane lives with her husband in Pointe Claire, Quebec. Their three sons occasionally drop in to pat the dog and visit the fridge.
Renné Benoit was born and raised in Nepean, Ontario, and she is the illustrator of numerous award-winning picture books, including the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award-nominated Goodbye to Griffith Street by Marilynn Reynolds and Tale of a Great White Fish by Maggie De Vries, both recipients of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize. Her book Lily and the Paper Man, written by Rebecca Upjohn was a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award winner. Benoit lives in Southern Ontario with her husband, their daughter, and two dogs.
Praise for Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion:
“A wonderful picture book, intergenerational, [with] great illustrations. Jane Barclay’s text captures a small boy’s love of his grandfather and interest in his past in a few, well-placed words. It encourages us to see the stories that are all around us and within us and it quietly honors the brave men and women who have fought and still fight for our freedom.... Powerful themes of war and peace well handled.”
—Carolyne Van Der Meer, juror for the 2009 QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
“…meaningful and engaging…. Barclay has taken on an important topic in an effective and touching way. Her poignant story introduces the young to the meaning of war and Remembrance Day…. There is a lovely rhythm to the prose that would make this a perfect choice by parents and teachers to read-aloud. Highly Recommended.”
“…[a] beautifully modulated picture book about war and remembrance….”
—The Globe and Mail