Talking to Kids about War: Ships in the Field

Today is Friday – I have a children’s book to review to add to the  Perfect Picture Book resource list that author Susanna Leonard Hill is building on her blog. For more wonderful reviews from authors, educators and others who contributed today, please go here

My picture book pick today is another one of the treasures I scooped up in Singapore last week at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

Talking to kids about war: Ships in the Field

Ships in the Field

Written by Susanna Gervay

Illustrated by Anna Pignataro

Publisher: Ford Street Publishers – Melbourne, Australia (2012)

Ages: 5 and up


Family togetherness, immigrants, war, hope

Opening Lines:

“Every night, Brownie and I wait for Papa to come home.”


A little girl and her family start life over again after war tears their country apart. Although there is sadness in their past, they are a happy family who work hard to make new joyful memories together.

Why  I like this book:

  • Great read-aloud for younger children…older kids will enjoy reading it themselves
  • Wonderful message of hope and family togetherness
  • Beautiful illustrations
  • I met the author, child advocate and co-head of Australia’s SCBWI chapter, Susanne Gervay at the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and was thrilled to sit in on one of her amazing presentations there: Writing to Make a Better World…as writers, we have an opportunity to share important messages that can make a difference…Susanne takes this seriously and is the author of It’s Jack, a true story about bullying and how it affected her son. There are two sequels to the book and it is now in movie syndication! I also sat next to her at the First Pages session and with her for several breakfasts at the hotel…she is entertaining and empowering!

Talking to kids about war: Ships in the Field

Photo from #2013AFCC – many of the SCBWI leaders of Pacific Rim countries – Suzanne is third from the left in the back row.

How a parent can use this book:

  • Lovely read-aloud
  • Opportunity for discussion about war and its effects on people
  • Talk about how people from other places may sound different but they all want and need the same things
  • Ideas for family activities

Related Activities:


talking to kids about war: ships in the field

Photo courtesy of:

There are many recipes for yummy pancakes in cookbooks and online. Here’s a kid-friendly simple and nutritious one from my book.


You will need: 1 cup flour, ¼ tsp salt, 1 Tb sugar or honey, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 egg lightly beaten, ¾ cup milk, 2 Tb canola oil, ¼ cup applesauce, 2 Tb chopped apple, ½ cup raisins or blueberries, maple syrup or warmed jelly or confectioner’s sugar for the topping (optional), non-stick griddle and two bowls.

  1. Mix flour, sugar and baking powder in large bowl.
  2. Combine egg, milk and oil in another bowl.
  3. Slowly add the liquid mix into the dry mix…stirring till just blended. The batter should be lumpy.
  4. Gently fold in the apples and applesauce.
  5. Preheat the griddle on moderate heat and pour or spoon batter onto griddle (about 2 or 3 Tb of batter for each pancake).
  6. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancake and gently  turn over to brown other side.
  7. Press raisins or blueberries into surface of pancake to form eyes, nose and smiling mouth. Your child might enjoy arranging the faces on her own pancakes.
  8. Top with maple syrup, warmed jelly or confectioner’s sugar if desired.

Another lovely activity: go on a picnic like the family in the story did.

For more information about Susanne:

For picture book writing tips from Susanne:

You can connect with the fantastically funny and downright amazing Susanne Gervay on Facebook, Twitter or her blog.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on June 7, 2013, in #2013AFCC, Picture Book Review, Recipe, Talking about War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Ships in the Field is close to my heart inspired by my family’s experiences as refugees. I loevd meeting you too Vivian.


    • Thank you so much, Susanne…for coming by and commenting…but most of all for writing the book. I will enjoy sharing it with kids during my class visits next semester. 🙂 Best of luck with everything you are involved it (especially the movie) and I hope our paths converge again. 🙂


  2. This sounds like an important share. Kids need to know that things happen, but we find a way as a family to move forward. Great choice. Would like this one on my blog.


    • It’s a lovely book, Pat…don’t know how available it is to purchase..but I’m sure it can be found somewhere. Susanne is an incredible woman…you would LOVE her and she would love you. 🙂


  3. What an important book Ms. Kirkfield! The cover looks nice. 🙂


    • Thank you, Erik! The most special thing was meeting the author, Susanne Gervay! What an amazing, funny, caring woman…I’m so happy to have connected with her in Singapore. 🙂 And it is a true story of her childhood!


  4. What a worthwhile event. This is truly a gem. I admire Susanne’s work too. Thanks, Vivian.


    • Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Joanne! I had so much fun with Susanne…I could have sat and talked to her for hours…she is witty, compassionate and so darn smart! And I love her books. 🙂


  1. Pingback: Make a Paper Plate Spider: Gracie and Josh Review | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

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