Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: When Poems Fall From the Sky, Zaro Weil

When Poems Fall From the Sky, Zaro Weil, Illustrated by Junli Song, ZaZa Kids Books and Troika

When Poems Fall From the Sky, Zaro Weil, Illustrated by Junli Song, ZaZa Kids Books in association with Troika, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

What do you do if you want to submerge yourself in poems about nature? Diving into a copy of this book would be a good start, and letting them rain upon you from the pages.

Water, seeds, shoots and trees, fins, feathers and fur, colours, clouds, dreams, and moonbeams, all the delights of Mother Earth wind their own words into poems, raps and plays, growing through the delightful, playful illustrations by Junli Song.

Another lovely feast for the eyes book from Zaro Weil, ZaZa Kids Books, and Troika.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems, Brian Moses

The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems, collected by Brian Moses, Macmillan.

The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems, collected by Brian Moses, Macmillan.

Humour is subjective – what doubles me up (I am afraid) is anything involving an unfortunate end for the subject of the poem, but I also love it when the poem turns on its head at the end with an absurdity so surprising it makes me really laugh. There are plenty of those slipped inside the banana skin cover of this anthology collected by Brian Moses – along with clever wordplay and ridiculous poems from most of the poets you know and love. Including me.

I’m glad to say as soon as I unpeeled this book it did hit my funny bone, as that is not always the case with anthologies of funny poems.

Here’s a sample from the wonderful rhyme-master, Colin West:

Our Hippopotamus

We thought a lively pet to keep

Might be a hippopotamus.

Now see him sitting in a heap,

And notice at the bottom – us.

Colin West

Definitely one to buy if you hanker after non-stop humour! Brilliant fun.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: How Many Points for a Panda by Hilda Offen

How Many Points for a Panda, Hilda Offen, Troika Books

How Many Points for a Panda, Poems for Everyone, Hilda Offen, Troika Books.

This tackles subjects such as what to do if you are swallowed by a whale, and other tricky subjects that must be solved by young and old alike. The book’s poems are beautifully illustrated by the poet herself.

My favourite poem in this is The Naming of Clouds:

From How Many Points for a Panda, Hilda Offen, Troika Books

A lovely book to read with young children.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Hey, Girl! Poems by Rachel Rooney

Hey, Girl! Poems by Rachel Rooney, Illustrated by Milo Hartnell, Otter-Barry Books

Hey, Girl! Poems by Rachel Rooney, Illustrated by Milo Hartnell, Otter-Barry Books

This is a remarkably honest and tender look at awakening, awareness and acceptance of self as a young girl enters adolescence. Rachel’s poems often directly confront and embrace truths – and this book is a portrait of the poet herself.

The poems also explore navigating these tumultuous and confusing times as someone with autism, which will have added to the feelings of vulnerability, isolation and difference, although Rachel didn’t know of her diagnosis at the time. But the poems that touch on autism give both sides of the coin, and the whole collection also relates shadows and songs along the journey to the future.

Rachel is a stunning, exacting poet – her poems are illustrated by her equally talented son, Milo Hartnell. It adds up to a book worth getting with its message of courage to be yourself.

Break-time

Your mouth moves in synchronicity

with sounds I can hear,

some of which are recognisable,

like partyinvite and latestgossip.

And somewhere deep inside you,

invisible strings are being pulled

that make your eyes swivel,

shoulders rise, palms jerk upwards.

But even though I am holding

what I hope is an understanding half-smile

and feel satisfied with the tilt of my head,

I am thinking about that wasp in the window,

trapped amongst the stationery.

The way it alternates between

resigned torpor and active despair,

the tap of its wing against the glass.

Rachel Rooney

Hey, Girl! Rachel Rooney, Illustrated by Milo Hartnell, Otter-Barry Books

Highly recommended. Five stars.

*Rachel Rooney’s former CLiPPA award-winning book, The Language of Cat has also recently been republished by Otter-Barry Books – excellent for key stage 1 and 2.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Cloud Soup by Kate Wakeling

Cloud Soup, Kate Wakeling, Illustrations by Elīna Braslina, The Emma Press

Cloud Soup, Kate Wakeling, Illustrations by Elīna Braslina, The Emma Press

I love Kate Wakeling’s poetry – her poems turn corners, they leap out from behind you, they don’t progress

down

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

~~~the page

in the way you would expect. They are full of invention and surprise and ideas and she has the gift of writing about ordinary things and making them extraordinarily themselves.

Here’s an example. Poets have all met poems like this.

From Cloud Soup, Kate Wakeling, The Emma Press

Lovely illustrations by Elīna Braslina. It’s excellent stuff. Recommended. 5 stars.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Polka Dot Poems by Zaro Weil

Polka Dot Poems, Zaro Weil, Illustrator Lucy Wynne, ZaZa Kids Books and Troika

Polka Dot Poems, 100 Weird and Wonderful Nature Haiku, Zaro Weil, Illustrated by Lucy Wynne, ZaZa Kids Books and Troika.

Polka Dot Poems is a feast of witty, wise and wonderful pint-sized nature poems, beautifully illustrated in colour with many details and humour by Lucy Wynne.

Full of creatures you may not have heard of, alongside poems on subjects such as flowers and mountains, tides and the moon, described in a few words to tantalise you into investigating further. A great book to share with children interested in nature. There are plenty of facts to think about and questions to ask.

Sand

tiny grain between toes

teeny bit of rock

from long before

I was born

Zaro Weil

Highly recommended for nature lovers!

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Caterpillar Cake by Matt Goodfellow

Caterpillar Cake, Matt Goodfellow, Illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage, Otter-Barry Books

Caterpillar Cake, Matt Goodfellow, Illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage, Otter-Barry Books.

This is a hardback poetry book for very young people filled with Matt’s trademark poems, which are always delicious to read aloud.

It’s not everyone who can write with such quality for small readers – Caterpillar cake is an engaging recipe whipped with warmth and wonder, and topped with poetry icing.

Here’s a sample – this poem is a two page spread, but I’ve had to cut it in half!

Caterpillar Cake, Matt Goodfellow, illustrator Krina Patel Sage, Otter-Barry Books.

Beautifully illustrated by Krina Patel-Sage, this is a first poetry book to be enjoyed by parents and children alike.

Very much recommended, 5 stars.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Little Light, by Coral Rumble

Little Light by Coral Rumble, Troika Fiction

Little Light, Coral Rumble, Illustrated by Shih-Yu Lin, Troika Books.

Little Light is an extraordinary accomplishment – a verse novel with a story so engaging and immersing you often don’t notice it’s in verse, even though Coral frequently breaks the boundaries of the page to play with form.

Living in one room with her mum and two siblings after a marriage break up, on the cusp of leaving primary and entering secondary education, Ava is a child lost between worlds, her old school, her old self, her old life and that yet to come. Her discovery of a stray dog leads her into the future.

The light that Ava shines and finds is beautifully kindled by Coral’s luminous writing.

The book is sensitively illustrated by Shih-Yu Lin.

A sample:

Wagging

Wagging is a strange word.

If you’re wagging school –

you’re in trouble,

if a finger is pointed at you –

you’re in trouble,

but when a dog’s tail is wagging –

you’ve got approval.

Coral Rumble

Very much recommended – every school should have a copy. Five Stars.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: There’s a Crocodile in the House by Paul Cookson

There’s a Crocodile in the House, Paul Cookson, Illustrated by Liz Million, Otter-Barry Books

There’s a Crocodile in the House by Paul Cookson, Illustrations by Liz Million, Otter-Barry Books.

This is a book made for reading aloud – a parade of mad animals, pirate teachers, aliens and carnivorous toilet seats join the crocodile in the house, all poems just screaming for audience participation, heckling, joining in and repetition. This is a fun book for younger poetry lovers. The charming and witty illustrations are perfect.

Here’s a sample:

There’s a Crocodile in the House!

Big sharp teeth

Open mouth

There’s a crocodile in the house

I did not smile

Did not laugh

There’s a Crocodile in the bath

I did not know

What to think

There’s a crocodile in the sink

I did not know

What to do

There’s a crocodile in the loo

Face turned white

Eyes turned red

There’s a crocodile in my bed

Then I did

A crazy dance

There’s a crocodile in my pants

Big sharp teeth

Open mouth

There’s a crocodile in the house!

Paul Cookson

Recommended for participation purposes and fun!

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Stars with Flaming Tails, by Valerie Bloom

Stars with Flaming Tails, by Valerie Bloom, Illustrated by Kevin Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books.

Stars with Flaming Tails by Valerie Bloom, Illustrated by Kevin Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books.

This is a super collection of poems in a multiplicity of forms – from the clever, funny wordplay and instantly recognisable family situations through poetry of dreams and fantasy, Valerie Bloom’s warm, empathetic voice shines. It’s a joyous book with a hug and I love it.

Here are a couple of examples:

Stars with Flaming Tails, by Valerie Bloom, Illustrated by Kevin Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books.
Stars with Flaming Tails, by Valerie Bloom, Illustrated by Kevin Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books.

Definitely recommend. Five Stars.

Posted in Poetry News

You Can Now Buy Signed Books From Me!

I now have a safe PayPal facility installed which means you can buy books straight from me, signed with a personal dedication – the perfect Christmas present!

Available are:

A few copies of first print run Animal Magic Poems on a Disappearing World, illustrated by Rose Sanderson, and published by IRON Press.

zanimal-magic-book-cover-copy

Animal Magic, Poems on a Disappearing World

Review: It’s not every book of poems that crosses over the grown-up/child divide – but this is one that does so beautifully. Elegant poetry sits alongside interesting facts, enhanced by charming illustrations. Price includes P&P. Email dedication wanted from contact page, with your name and address, and book’s name.

£10.00

being-me-big-from-janetta

Being Me, Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings

Written with Laura Mucha and Matt Goodfellow, a ground-breaking collection offering understanding, support and encouragement, and advice from a leading developmental psychologist. Price includes P&P. Email dedication wanted from contact page, with your name and address, and book’s name.

£8.00

9146hqinoel

Shaping the World, 40 Historical Heroes in Verse

20 amazing women and 20 amazing men who helped shape the world – in shape poems, all with biographical notes! Find out about Florence Nightingale’s pet owl, Benjamin Franklin’s windsurfing, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai. Price includes P&P. Email dedication wanted from contact page, with your name and address, and book’s name.

£7.00

Posted in Poetry Competition, The Poetry Society

The Poetry Society’s New Young People’s Poetry Competition

About Us Poetry and Coding Competition

The Poetry Society would like you to join them on an exciting journey through poetry, science and technology, spanning 13.8 billion years!

The Poetry Society, Stemettes and 59 Productions have launched a new poetry and coding competition for young people aged 4-18 and based in the UK. The deadline for entries is 23:59 GMT on Sunday 19 December 2021. Find out more and enter online at aboutus.earth.

The competition is part of a project called About Us, one of ten commissions for UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. About Us is an epic new show for everyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered about our connection to the vast universe. The show will tour the UK in spring 2022.

They want young people’s voices to be at the heart of the show. The winners of the competition will have the chance to see their work featured in the live show, which will be seen by tens of thousands of people, as well as win other amazing prizes, including goodies and talent development opportunities.  The theme of the competition is ‘connectivity and the universe’, and they are inviting young people to reflect on the infinite ways in which we are connected to the universe, the natural world, and one another from the Big Bang to the present day.

There are two strands to the competition: young people can enter a poem, or an animation using the Scratch coding platform, or they can enter both. Poems should be no more than 20 lines long, and Scratch animations should not exceed 90 seconds. Entrants can create poems or animations about space and cosmology, cellular life, ecosystems, networks within the human body, linguistic connectivity, technology, the climate, or any other way in which life across the universe is connected. There are free poetry and coding resources for all key stages to help inspire them at aboutus.earth.

Developed in collaboration with poets and scientists across the four nations of the UK, About Us is delivered by design studio and production company 59 Productions who created the breath-taking video design for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony; Stemettes, an organisation that brings young women and non-binary young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths; and The Poetry Society, one of the UK’s most dynamic arts organisation championing poetry for all ages.

If you have any questions about the competition, please get in touch at AboutUs@poetrysociety.org.uk.

Posted in National Poetry Day 2021

National Poetry Day: Animal Choices

Many creatures show amazing discernment choosing nesting sites for safety, or choosing between food sources for superior protein content, or choosing their mate for health, according to their brighter feathers and louder song.

This is the Vogelkop Bowerbird – from Indonesia. He is an unremarkable male, with his plain, brown feathers. A female might disregard him entirely for his attire. But he attracts his mate by dazzling her. He builds the most remarkable bower of all – and decorates by choosing adornments by colour, and shine. He places them just so – stands back and re-adjusts, tries another arrangement and starts all over again until he is satisfied. He is an artist.

Vogelkop Bowerbird

Before his bower,

a pyramid of orchid stems

supported by pillars,

appointed by

blue and plum berries

plucked with delicate precision

and displayed precisely

beside sprays

of pink blossom,

a shiny pile pf

purple-grey beetle wings

and one perfect

crimson petal,

the plainest bowerbird

proudly places

himself.

Liz Brownlee

This poem is in Animal Magic, IRON PRESS, 2012

Posted in National Poetry Day 2021

National Poetry Day: I Choose Puppy

I Choose Puppy

The shiniest, sparkly, jewel glitzes

champagne bubbles’ tickly fizzes

all the fireworks’ bangs and hisses –

I’ve got the best of all the wishes

‘cos nothing’s like a puppy’s kisses

Liz Brownlee

This is Paddy – if he passes all his exams he will, one day, take over Lola’s role as my assistance dog. He’s doing ok at the minute!

And he is very loving and cuddly.