THE PEACH PIT PARADE
A World War I Story
By: Shana Keller
Illustrated by: Margeaux Lucas
Published: April 15, 2022
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
I love it when a children’s book teaches me something from our history. I had no idea what peaches had to do with WWI until I read THE PEACH PIT PARADE, based on using peach pits in soldiers’ gas masks during the war. Even though this is a fictional story, it’s based on facts the author researched about the African-American soldiers who fought during WWI and the families they left behind.
Polly’s father joined the army to fight with the Allied forces in 1917. Polly and her mom were left behind in America when food was scarce and supplies were limited. Polly still went to school and attended her Girl Scout meetings, but she missed her father terribly.
Every morning, Polly helped her mother in the garden. She went to school. She came home. She did her chores. She said her prayers. She went to bed. And she missed her father.
One day in school Polly learned that some of the weapons being used to fight in the war included chemicals. This scared Polly and she worried about her dad. So, the government asked everyone to save and collect fruit pits, especially peach pits. Peach pits were used in the gas mask filters to absorb the harmful gasses. It took 200 peach pits to make one filter for the millions of soldiers fighting in the war. Polly was overwhelmed but she wanted to help. After talking it over one night, she and her mother had an idea to hold a parade and gather as many peach pits as they could.
The whole school rallied around Polly’s idea and the parade was a huge success. Polly was so proud to be able to contribute something to fight the war and to help her father. The end of the book includes historical facts about the use of gas masks and peach pits as well as a note from the author about researching this story.
This book offers an amazing lesson on WWI history as well as ways that families back home could help during wartime. The story includes realistic depictions of clothing, home interiors, and sacrifices when it came to food and supplies.
Check out the newspaper story (printed in an Iowa newspaper) that inspired this children’s book, HERE.
Shana Keller grew up a middle child in Middle America wondering exactly how clouds stayed in the air. She’s traveled all over the country and some parts of Europe with her family, and moved too many times to count. She is the author of multiple picture books. Her goal is to never stop learning. Learn more about Shana at www.shanakeller.com.
Margeaux Lucas is an artist who has illustrated many books for children, fiction, and nonfiction. Living near New York City, she is inspired by the diversity in people, the charm of neighborhood parks and shops, the awesome museums, and, closest to home, the sunsets over the historic Hudson River. To see more of her work, visit margeauxlucas.com.