Posted in Poetry Review

Review: Where Do Wishes Go, by Debra Bertulis

Where Do Wishes Go, Debra Bertulis, Otter-Barry Books

Beautifully illustrated (as is usual with Otter-Barry Books) by Jess Mason, this is Debra Bertulis’ first book.

Where Do Wishes Go? is packed with poems on many of the themes that concern primary school children – such as the death of a grandparent, homework, moving house, and it also includes further experiences that will never be common to all – being a carer, having to move country and learn a new language.

Many of the poems in this book could be used as springboards by teachers and parents to discuss experiences in the lives of children in their care.

There is a lot of humour however – and an overall lightness to the collection that embodies the ‘feel’ of the title, and there are poems that are more whimsical, such as the poem from which the title is drawn.

Here are some examples:

Thinking Places and To Be a Tree, by Debra Bertulis, Where Do Wishes Go, Otter-Barry Books


Posted in Poetry Review

Review: Courage in a Poem, Poetry about Empowerment, Little Tiger.

This lovely hardback book from Little Tiger contains relatively few poems, but those it does contain punch above their weight.

The book is BURSTING with a poetic celebration of all the things that courage brings, by a range of excellent poets, among them Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favourites, and it also features my wonderful book writing buddies, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha. The poems are all gorgeous, life-affirming and heart-warming.

It is Illustrated by four fantastic artists in colours that zing and sing from the page alongside the poems. Here are some examples:

My Sari by Debjani Chatterjee, from Courage in a Poem, Little Tiger.
Your Epic Self, by Kate Wakeling, from Courage in a Poem, Little Tiger
I did it, by Valerie Bloom (winner of CLiPPA 2022)

I heartily recommend this for reading to all youngsters – it would make a fantastic choice for the classroom as well. 5 stars!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2022

It’s National Poetry Week – Friday!

Image by Jackie Morris for National Poetry Day 2022

Today I am posting a shape poem about the blue whale – which is not the same whale as Jackie Morris’ beautiful illustration of an orca!

Blue whales are are protected but are still threatened – primarily by climate change affecting their food source, krill, collisions cause by boats, and getting entangled in fishing nets.

It is the largest animal on the planet, weighing as much 20 elephants or so. Their plaintive calls make them the loudest animal on earth, even louder than a jet engine, but you can’t hear it out of the water as the sound waves are too large to be carried in the air. It is thought that their call is probably used to attract other blue whales.

The Blue Whale © Liz Brownlee

Posted in National Poetry Day 2022

It’s National Poetry Day TODAY!

Image by Jackie Morris

It’s National Poetry Day 2022 which is of course my FAVOURITE day of the year – everything is poetry!

So here is my poem for National Poetry Day 2022 this year, as a shape poem. The otter poem is also available on the National Poetry Day website as words!

Otters were almost extinct in the 50s and have made a bit of a comeback with a concerted effort to clean up rivers and riverbanks, where they live, hunt and breed. They cannot live in dirty rivers – so the recent news of raw sewage being discharged into our waterways is not good news for the otter.

Below is a film my husband made of me reading my otter shape poem.

Perhaps you’d like to write a poem about an animal yourself?

I started by reading all about otters, and their lives – otters were very endangered but recently their numbers have increased due to rivers being cleaned up.

I often draw the animal I am about to write about – it helps me think as I am trying to come up with what I am going to say in my poem.

My next stage was to think of words that could describe things about otters – their eyes and thick, shiny fur, the way they walk, how they swim and catch prey. I watched some videos online. There is nothing like seeing the animal moving to give you ideas!

I suggest writing down all the words and grouping them together in different ways – using alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme etc. You don’t have to rhyme, in fact it’s better not to as then you can really think about the words and what sounds well together – but words that sound similar in rhythm or syllables are helpful.

If you do find two words that rhyme, even in an un-rhyming poem, they can be used to create a satisfying end.

Have a lovely National Poetry Day!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2022

National Poetry Day Week – Wednesday!

Image by Jackie Morris for National Poetry Day 2022

In the 1960s the robin was voted to be the UK’s favourite bird – and in 2015 it again took top prize, when more than 224,000 people took part in the National Bird Vote – 34% of them voted for the robin. The next two favourites were the barn owl and the blackbird.

The robin is not endangered – it is a clever, friendly, common bird that has adapted to living in most habitats. It cannot however deal with very harsh winters – so if climate change means that we see more snow, and periods of very cold temperatures during the winter months, this may change.

Here is my robin poem – I wondered what advice the robin might have to other birds to become the number one choice!

Posted in National Poetry Day 2022

National Poetry Day Week – Tuesday!

Image: Jackie Morris for National Poetry Day 2022

The brown hare is relatively common in many parts of the UK, but relatively rare in the south west. It has a species action plan under the UK Biodiversity Action plan, but unfortunately, it is one of two species in the UK which has minimal protection because it is considered to be game, and can be shot all year round.

Hares live above ground, unlike rabbits, and forage in the early morning and evenings. Their young are left in a shallow scrape in the ground all day, relying on their camouflage, and the mother hare comes back only once or twice day to feed them.

Leveret, © Liz Brownlee

© Liz Brownlee
Posted in National Poetry Day 2022

National Poetry Day Week – Monday!

Image by Jackie Morris for NPD 2022

National Poetry Day’s theme this year is the environment.

For me, today is giraffe day – below is my giraffe shape poem. you don’t tend to think of giraffes being endangered. And giraffes were mostly not endangered in the 1980s – but in some areas since, their numbers have dropped by a staggering 95%, which leaves two species critically endangered, one endangered, two vulnerable, one near threatened, and only ONE species of least concern.

Why? Well, habitat loss is a large contributing factor. Where giraffes used to range, their land is being converted into ranches and farms – roads are being built to these, and giraffes are run into by cars. Some people make a living by burning trees the giraffes eat to make charcoal to sell.

Wildlife trafficking and poaching has increased due to civil war – people are killing giraffes to eat, and selling parts of them for goods made from bone – such as knives and gun parts – much of which is shipped to the United States.

Giraffes are also falling prey to disease due to inbreeding, as there are fewer places for them to live and fewer giraffes to choose a mate from. Drought, because of climate change, is also making giraffe habitats smaller.

All the above problems have been caused by man.

Posted in Poetry in Education, Poetry Review, Poetry Teaching Book

Catalysts, by Pie Corbett: Review

Pie Corbett is an excellent poet – but he is also an excellent teacher of poetry and from poetry, and is a fount of imaginative teaching ideas that WORK to help children express themselves in poetry or prose. He created the Talk for Writing approach to learning, which is widely used in UK primary schools.

This is more than a manual for teachers – it is a book full of magic and wonder, it shines with Pie’s enthusiasm for poetry, teaching and inspiring children as writers – his dedication in the front to his wife states: “We have striven to develop storytelling, creative writing, art, music and dance. Our belief is that the creative arts bring joy, enhance who we are and how we live. The arts bind us together in our common humanity, helping us to take a step out of the darkness of ourselves and let in the light.”

I don’t really need to say any more than this book really is brimful of catalysts, laid out clearly with poems, ideas, examples, and instructions that are easy to follow – which will make Pie’s own triumphs with inspiring children’s writing replicable.

It’s a book I heartily recommend – not only to teachers but to poets, and anyone wanting to be a poet. Five stars from me!

Only available here: TalkforWriting

Posted in CLiPPA 2022

Winner of CLiPPA 2022 is Val Bloom!

Stars with Flaming Tails by Val Bloom, Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, Otter-Barry Books

On Friday 8th of July six shortlisted poets who’d written five books made their way to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Southbank, to celebrate the CLiPPA 2022, and hear who had won. Laura Mucha, Matt Goodfellow and I were shortlisted for Being Me, Val Bloom for Stars with Flaming Tails, Manjeet Mann for The Crossing, Kate Wakeling for Cloud Soup, and Matt Goodfellow (again!) for Caterpillar Cake.

The awards were hosted by Southbank and the ALCS as well as the CLPE, and Michael Rosen, last year’s winner, was the main compère, which was fantastic – and of course the whole proceedings were drawn live by the incomparable Chris Riddell as usual.

The performances by the poets were interspersed with the winning shadowing schools’ children’s performances, and wonderful they were, too. The whole ceremony can be watched below, or if you only want to see us, we came on second at about 28 mins in!

The very deserving winner was announced as Valerie Bloom – my review of her gorgeous book is here, posted in January.

Congratulations to all the other shortlisted poets who are all wonderful, and all lovely (we had a fabulous day), and to the CLPE, who as usual put on a fantastic award ceremony, where everything went like clockwork.

And congratulations and huge thanks to our publisher, Janetta Otter-Barry, who published Stars with Flaming Tails, and also Matt’s, Laura’s and my book, Being Me, AND Matt’s Caterpillar Cake – three out of the five shortlisted titles!

Posted in Children's Laureate

Joseph Coelho is the New Children’s Laureate!

Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho, Illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett, Wide Eyed Editions.

The poet and author Joseph Coelho has been chosen as the new Waterstones children’s laureate – SUCH good news for children’s poetry, as he has vowed to celebrate its power. Here are his actual words:

‘Poetry is powerful, it is the medium we turn to at weddings, funerals and new births because it goes beyond mere words, poetry translates the soul.

‘I want to use the prestigious platform of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate to highlight and celebrate the power of poetry. To invite the nation, young and old, to write poems, to become poets’

Huge congratulations to Joseph, and wishes for a wonderful two year celebration of children’s poetry!

Posted in Poetry Performance

Liz and Laura at The Globe

This is my performance with the amazing Laura Mucha at The Globe, London. As part of the Off by Heart event, the CLiPPA poets performed a couple of poems from each of their shortlisted books. These are poems from Being Me, Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings, by me, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, Otter-Barry Books.

Thanks to The Globe, Off by Heart, and the CLPE.
Posted in CLiPPA

Performing at The Globe

IMAGE: Poppie Skold

On Monday the poets shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2022 poetry prize performed at The Globe, London. What a privilege!

The poets are Manjeet Mann on the left, shortlisted for her verse novel The Crossing, and next to her is Laura Mucha, who wrote Being Me with me and Matt Goodfellow – the tall one in the picture! Next along is Kate Wakeling, shortlisted for her poetry book Cloud Soup. Then it is poet Nikita Gill who was our wonderful compere for the day. Next is Matt, who is holding his SECOND book shortlisted for the prize, Caterpillar Cake, and on the end by me is Val Bloom, shortlisted for her poetry book, Stars with Flaming Tails.

The youngsters in the front row brilliantly performed a poem by Matt Goodfellow from last year’s shortlist, and a poem by Michael Rosen, who was the CLiPPA winner last year.

IMAGE: Poppie Skold

We are all now eagerly awaiting the award ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Southbank.

Posted in A-Z of Famous children's poets

Attie Lime – /New Addition to the Poets’ A-Z!

Attie Lime is a children’s poet whose favourite places to write are her writing shed and fields. Her three boys inspire her constantly, as well as her ankle-biting cat! She enjoys writing poems about nature and feelings, and loves sharing funny poems in schools to make children laugh. She has poetry published in various print and online publications, and her first poetry collection for children will be published by Beir Bua Press in 2023. Attie’s website is and she is on Twitter @AttieLime.

And here is one of Attie’s poems!

Look Who’s in the Toy Box

My mum and dad aren’t normal

I know saying it’s not good

I love them and they’re special

but I’d change them if I could.

The problem isn’t homework

or making me do chores

they cook nice food and buy me gifts

and neither of them snores.

The issue with my parents

which has got me in a fix

is that they’re made of Lego –

yes – they’re made of plastic bricks.

It might sound fun to others

but believe me when I say

Mum’s head rolling down the playground

is the worst part of my day.

My dad is strong and muscly

he can lift up Lego trees

but he never goes upstairs to bed

as he cannot bend his knees.

Mum has two expressions

she can smile and she can scowl

one on the front and one on the back

her head swivels like an owl.

My friends are understanding

my teacher’s been a star

but I’ve decided to exchange them

for a turbo racing car.

© Attie Lime