Posted in Poetry Review

The Poetry Guide: Trevor Millum and Bernard Young

If you are a teacher or a librarian, or even a poet looking for ideas of how to teach poetry to classes or groups, this is the book for you!

Both Trevor and Bernard are very experienced, both as excellent poets and as educators working with young people.

The book is laid out well, the subjects of chapters are pertinent and useful, any instructions are clear and easy to follow – all with examples and sample poems. There are sections on every type of question you may have from  ‘How to do poetry with pre-readers/writers’, to ‘How to use audio/video as an aid’, and other things covered include ‘performance’, ‘reading aloud’, ‘music and poetry’, ‘imagery, similes and metaphors’ and even ‘how to answer difficult questions’!

I really recommend this! Published by Troika, you can buy it here.

Posted in Poetry Review

Colette Hiller and Tor Freeman: The B on Your Thumb Review

This is such an excellent idea – in fact it is in my ideas book so jolly miffed I haven’t ever put it forward! Here are 60 engaging and funny poems ‘to boost reading and spelling’. Each poem is a rhyme that explains how to remember how to spell a word, or how to use the correct form of a homophone – for instance one poem deals with how to remember when to use to, too or two.

Using plenty of humour, repetition and playfulness, the rhymes really do work and I can imagine this being a very useful resource in schools and for parents; I can also imagine young people actually enjoying learning how and when to use these words!

Tor Freeman’s illustrations are wonderfully colourful, clear, and make a fabulous pairing with these clever, educational poems.

Excellent, highly recommended. I hope these rhymes enter every teacher’s lexicon!  Published by Francis Lincoln , you can buy the book here.

Posted in Poetry Review

Colin West: Barmy Ballads

When my children were little, picture books and poems by Colin West were great favourites; along with books by David McKee and Quentin Blake, Colin’s books are the ones I can remember fondly. The words I had fun reading on multiple occasions if not every day, the ones the children laughed at time after time, the pictures they enjoyed poring over.

So it felt surreal when Colin sent me his latest manuscript, Barmy Ballads, to read. Colin is truly masterly at combining fantastic nonsense with his hilarious images, and to sum up, this is what I sent for the back cover – Barmy, brilliant and absurd – Colin West‘s mastery of witty improbabilities in rhyme, combined with the quirky charm of his illustrations, makes this book irresistible.

You can buy it here.

Posted in Poetry Review

Riding a Lion, by Coral Rumble: Book Review

Published TODAY! Slip between the pages of this book and relax into Coral’s warm, vibrant, exciting, world of poems – it seems a poem about practically everything, in every poetic style, lies within.

I particularly enjoyed her animal poems (of course) but there is much to entertain, fascinate and make you laugh in this book.

Coral is an excellent poet and her exacting word choices explode little bombs of enjoyable recognition.

Here’s a couple I enjoyed – firstly, this lovely fox poem:

And lastly, a humorous one:

Riding a Lion is out TODAY, has lovely illustrations by Emily Ford, is published by, and can be bought at Troika Books, as well as all on Hive and any books shop.

FIVE fizzing stars and a big bang of recommendation!

Posted in Poetry Review

The Girl Who Became a Tree, by Joseph Coelho, Book Review

Out today, The Girl Who Became a Tree is an extraordinary verse novel about Daphne, a young teen whose father has died. Daphne disappears into her phone screen, library and imagination – shutting out the world, she avoids her sorrow by becoming the tree for which she was named by her father (from the legend of Daphne, who turns into a tree to avoid the attentions of Apollo). Stricken by her loss and inability to leave the river of her father’s comfort, the book interweaves the legendary Daphne with Daphne today’s slow return from the loneliness of grief with the solace of nature, and books.

The illustrations by Kate Millner are fantastic and are an excellent foil to the haunting text – which has been told in a variety of poetic forms.

Excellent.

The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho is published by Otter-Barry and is available here.

Posted in Poetry Review

Dear Ugly Sisters, by Laura Mucha: Book Review

I knew I’d love Dear Ugly Sisters as much as I love Laura herself – she’s a BIG bundle of energy, thoughtfulness and fun, and so of course is her book.

Here are just two of the spreads to show her range, first, the title poem:

And a more wistful one:

As a fabulous extra, there is a code to a free accompanying audio book, which is is great bonus!

I predict this book will give laughter, thoughts, questions, comfort – and sow the seeds of a love for poetry in any young person who reads it or has it read to them. A must for every library, home and school.

BIG recommendation, 5 SPARKLY, FIZZING stars for young people aged 7-11.

Dear Ugly Sisters is published by Otter-Barry Books and is beautifully illustrated by Tania Rex.

Posted in Poetry Review

Belonging Street by Mandy Coe, Book Review

 

YOU ARE HERE

 

In the car park is a map of your town.

Everyone presses their finger

on the red dot that says,

You are here.

 

And here you are!

Inside your shoes, inside your skin

and beneath your hair,

on freshly cut grass, a double-decker bus,

or in bed, slipping into a dream.

 

In a map of your day

you are here, bookmarking

this page, passing ginger biscuits,

dodging umbrellas

as you dash through the rain.

 

You are blowing on a hot chip

and laughing with a friend.

Breathe in the smell of vinegar

and place your finger on this moment.

 

You are here, you are here!

 

© Mandy Coe

 

This is a gentle, relatable book full of humour and the wonder of being alive – to quote another of the poems ‘wrap it around you to keep you warm’.

There are many lovely, finely observed poems in here to share between parents and children, and poems that can be used as models for children’s own writing in school.

5 Stars – highly recommended for young people 5-9!

Belonging Street is published by Otter-Barry Books and is full of playful, detailed illustrations by Mandy Coe herself.

Painting Poems by Julie Anna Douglas.

Julie Anna’s first book is a bright and positive collection full of promise, which is beautifully illustrated in a variety of styles. At its heart is the idea that creativity sparks creativity, and this is something I believe in passionately – at the end are a number of ideas to help you write your own poems, produce your own artwork and models, and interact with the poems in the book. You can buy Painting Poems here.

Here is my favourite from the book:

 

Whiskers

 

Whiskers appears in my garden each morning

just as I’m leaving for school.

Bright eyes flicker through the lavender

full of the wisdom of the woods.

Black-tipped ears glisten in the sunlight,

searching for whispers on the breeze.

Elegant, graceful, poised.

Standing still and serene.

We pause for a golden moment

shared in silence.

Frozen in time

until we blink back to life.

 

© Julie Anna Douglas

 

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

This Rock, That Rock by Dom Conlon

This Rock, That Rock, Poems Between You, Me and the Moon, by Dom Conlon, with illustrations by Viviane Schwarz, Troika Books.

This collection is full of shadows and light, stillness and life; by turns tender, soulful, imaginative, powerful and contemplative. Subjects address growth, coming to terms with being yourself, life, death, the universe and all within. Many children’s books can be enjoyed by all ages – but this is a book eminently suitable for sharing.

The title poem, This Rock, That Rock, about the Earth and the Moon, ends with the words:

This rock is overflowing with life

That rock is what makes life on the this rock possible

Dom’s poetry, it is a boost into a space in which you may find something which make life possible.

Here is my favourite (although Quietly Remarkable almost won!):

 

The Last Man on The Moon

 

Watch carefully, steal a glance

just before the door closes,

as your mum or dad

takes one last look

at your shadow-wrapped face,

and know that through you

they have walked upon the Moon

to memorise every feature

as though this is their last visit –

and it is

 

for tomorrow you will be older

and you might not let them land

a kiss upon your lips

or hold the glow of your spirit

in their hands. You might not

be as easy to reach

or even see because

 

yes, there will be days

when you go dark

but even then, you should know

that they will still be there

looking up for the thin crescent

of light to appear in their sky

like the opening of a bedroom door.

 

© Dom Conlon

Obviously recommended. 5 BIG stars.