Posted in Poetry Videos

Gerard Benson Day!

Today would have been Gerard Benson’s birthday, and as usual we like to recall him, his wonderful poems, his charismatic performances, his general wonderfulness. Here is his River Song:

Poem ©Cathy Benson, Film ©Chew Valley Films

And here is another favourite, The Cat and the Pig:

Poem ©Cathy Benson, Film ©Chew Valley Films
Posted in #WorldBookDay

World Book Day: Peace Poems

It’s World Book Day, but along with many others, I’m sure, my thoughts and heart lie with the people of Ukraine today.

Therefore the poems I will share will all be peace poems.

Snow

Swirling slowly

in lilting flight,

as cold as stars,

the soundless white

.

of drifting feathers

spreading wings,

to sing the songs

that snowflakes sing,

.

of how small gifts

of peace and light

can change the world

in just one night.

.

© Liz Brownlee

Be The Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, Macmillan.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Nutty Nonsense and Children’s Literature Festivals!

Nutty Nonsense, poems and illustrations by Colin West, published by Poems and Pictures Limited

What do poems of nutty nonsense and children’s literature festivals have in common? They both entertain, amuse and inspire children to read, of course!

Christina Gabbitas is the amazing founder of Children’s Literature Festivals – she says: “We organise children’s literature festivals for children and families from all backgrounds, cultures and abilities in less privileged areas FREE”.

There can be no doubt that listening to or watching a real, live author perform is truly inspirational for children. There is information about the events and fund-raising to enable this important work on this Facebook page: Children’s Literature Festivals

Colin West is an exceptionally talented poet and illustrator, who has entertained children and parents for many years with his absurd wordplay and nonsense. All profits from Colin’s new book are to be donated to this excellent cause.

You will not be disappointed – the book is not only packed to the gills with daft, clever and giggle-provoking poems, it is also chock-a-block full of Colin’s charming and hilarious illustrations.

You can buy it here for £6:99 – Nutty Nonsense by Colin West, it’s out on 02/02/22 on #WorldReadAloudDay.

Here’s a sample I photographed from the book – you can read more about Colin West here.

Posted in Being Me Poems about Thoughts worries and Feelings

Being Me Has Been Selected for EmpathyLabUK’s 2022 Primary Collection!

Thought I’d take a moment to say how thrilled we are that this book has been chosen to be in the EmpathyLabUK 2022 primary collection, as it reflects so many issues around empathy and emotions.

Being Me, Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings, is by me, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, wonderfully Illustrated by Victoria Jane Wheeler, and published by Otter Barry Books.

Mental health problems among primary children are at an all-time high – and no wonder with all the pressures they have nowadays on top of all the thoughts, feelings and worries youngsters experience anyway.

We have attempted to cover a wide range of issues, poems to reassure, poems to find yourself in, poems hoping to start thought processes that might lead to asking for help, poems to open discussions between guardians, teachers, parents and youngsters.

You can buy it signed from me – tell me who to mention via email :

being-me-big-from-janetta

Being Me

A ground-breaking collection offering understanding, support and encouragement, and advice from a leading developmental psychologist.

£8.00

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Razzmatazz! By Roger Stevens

Razzmatazz! The Poetry World of Roger Stevens, Illustrated by Mike Smith, Otter-Barry Books

Razzmatazz! The Poetry World of Roger Stevens, Illustrated by Mike Smith, Otter-Barry Books.

Roger Stevens has done a lot to light the poetry world, and his poems always brighten an anthology – he is a funny person to be with, a hilarious person as a compère of any poetry event, and it is obvious that any book full of his own poems will be fabulous fun as well. And this is – plus inventive and offbeat and quirky.

This book gives poetry writing and performance tips along the way – but the biggest tip ever on how to get poetry inspiration is to do what Roger ALWAYS does, and that is take a notebook with you everywhere. I have never seen Roger without his. Spend a day with him and there will loads of poems you might hear along the way or later, or notes for poems that will emerge, polished and edited one day.

These pages are full of Roger’s voice and I love his poems – and I also like the fact they might be hilarious or sad, thoughtful or silly – full of razzmatazz and jazz and music and laughter, but whatever they are about, they are always kind, like him.

From Razzmatazz! The Poetry World of Roger Stevens, Illustrated by Mike Smith, Otter-Barry Books

Very much recommended, wittily illustrated by Mike Smith. Five stars – and it’s out on Wednesday 12th January.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: 100 Best Christmas Poems for Children, Edited by Roger McGough

100 Best Christmas Poems for Children, Edited by Roger McGough, Illustrated by Beatriz Castro, Macmillan

100 Best Christmas Poems for Children, Edited by Roger McGough, Illustrated by Beatriz Castro, Macmillan.

When you are fed up with Christmas fare, you can fill up with Christmas spirit by cracking open this little book packed with festive poems. There are lovely poems in here – beautiful poems, humorous poems, gentle poems, and poems to lift the hairs on the back of your neck with their evocation of Christmassy wonder. It’s a perfect selection, charmingly illustrated by Beatriz Castro.

Here is one I love:

From 100 Best Christmas Poems for Children, Edited by Roger McGough, Illustrated by Beatriz Castro, Macmillan

Very much recommended. Five Stars.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

Review: Wonder, The Natural History Museum Poetry Book, Ana Sampson

Wonder, The Natural History Museum Poetry Book, Ana Sampson, Macmillan.

Wonder, The Natural History Museum Poetry Book, Ana Sampson, Macmillan.

This is a truly delicious book of poems on the delights you can find within the cavernous chambers of The Natural History Museum, occasionally illustrated with prints from the pages of old books.

I found many poems (poems that have been given space to breathe) I have not read before. I read a lot of nature poems. Excellent poems, poems to make your mouth water, your breath seize, your mind soar, your thoughts fill with wonder. I love the choices Ana Sampson has made.

I have one poem in there and I am very proud of this. Here it is:

Blackbird, by Liz Brownlee, from Wonder, The Natural History Museum Poetry Book, Ana Sampson, Macmillan.

Definitely a book to buy – I would give it more than 5 stars if could!

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.