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.
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.
Very much recommended – every school should have a copy. Five Stars.
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.
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.
This is a book of James’ most popular and most requested poems (along with a few new ones), and you can certainly see why they are requested over and over!
It contains the cream of James’ ability to write charmingly pitched-perfect poems on any subject under the sun (or the moon), in the dark (or light), about the big (or little), and it covers deeply important subjects such as how to paint an elephant or play air guitar.
Excellent stuff, beautifully illustrated by Neal Layton. Recommended.
Step out of your daily grind and into Shauna’s imaginarium – where humdrum is injected with colour, feelings and emotions with clarity, and empathy is just how and where you need it to be. You know those somethings you catch out of the corner of your eye but which disappear when you try to look them in the face? Here they are pinned down and given names.
This book is brimful of fantastical reality, a universe of exploration into worlds of words; words that float and sink and climb and swing, beckon, entice, challenge and sing. Exciting words, gentling words, lit along their paths with Shauna’s delightful sense of humour.
This is a fantastic work in every conceivable way, and what is more inside its covers I have found what is in my opinion THE PERFECT POEM (below) – but you can count on finding your own perfect poem there, too.
Published by Troika and beautifully illustrated by Jude Wisdom, this is definitely a winner for the classroom and home – HIGHLY recommended!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho is published by Otter-Barry and is available here.
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.
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 Poemshere.
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!):