Posted in My Favourite Poetry Books

Charles Ghigna: My Favourite Poetry Books

In 1999, I stayed in Canada for a couple of months, and there, in a children’s book shop, the door to the world of Canadian and American poets was opened for me. Charles Ghigna was one of the poets I discovered, and now I have come to know many Canadian and American poets, who are of course just as delightful and talented as the British variety. I’m so pleased to be able to host Charles (or Father Goose® as he is often known) on Poetry Roundabout this week. He lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books and more than five thousand poems for children and adults. I am reading his wonderful new book, Dear Poet at the minute. A review is in the offing! 

Thank you so much for inviting me to choose my favourite children’s poetry books! Here are my choices with a couple of lines of explanation.

THE 20TH CENTURY CHILDREN’S POETRY TREASURY selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, published by Knopf. Who could resist this perennial classic? I’ve been recommending this one to teachers, librarians and parents during my school visits and conference talks since it first appeared twenty years ago. It contains more than 200 poems by more than 100 of the leading poets writing for children in the twentieth century. This is one of the first anthologies illustrated by Meilo So. Her dreamy watercolours set the perfect background to this memorable, must-have collection.

KNOCK AT A STAR: A CHILD’S INTRODUCTION TO POETRY edited by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, illustrated by Karen Lee Baker, published by Little, Brown. Another perennial classic. With poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and many others, the Kennedys filled this two hundred page volume with a wide variety of well-chosen favourite poems. Their clever introductions to each verse form creates the perfect introduction to poetry for eager young readers. Teachers and parents love it too!

WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published by Abrams. I’m a big fan of all the poetry anthologies compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This is one my favourites. Ekphrasis poems at their finest. Seeing poets interpret the artworks of Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Fernando Botero and others inspires us all to visit museums with pen and paper in hand.

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG edited by Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick. This is one of my new favourite poetry anthologies for children. Not only is this an irresistible book of irresistible poems, it is a book of some of my favourite poet friends! This book stands as a stunning tribute to Paul Janeczko who died just before the book was published.

THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. More than 200 poems take us on a journey to explore and celebrate the people and places of the United States. Gorgeous photos showcase the poems that reveal the rich diversity of cultures that make up the American dream.

THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. If you are looking for a captivating book of poems about animals for kids, this is it! Put this book out on a table and watch children gather around to marvel over the photos and to read aloud the wit and wisdom of poets who bring this menagerie alive.

THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY editor by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. Another PW starred review anthology of poems by J. Patrick Lewis. Listen to kids oooh and ahhh over the photos as they read through the more than 200 poems that pay homage to Nature in all her glory.
DEAR POET: NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER by Charles Ghigna, published by Resource Publications.
Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Coral Rumble; My Favourite Poetry Books

Here is the second in the series where I’m asking children’s poets what their favourite poetry books are – they must choose one of their own, and they can if they wish choose a book of poems for adults, too. This week, it’s Coral Rumble!

I could list so many books, so I’ve decided to avoid listing any by my personal friends, as I wouldn’t be able to stop! (Not just because they’re my friends, but because they’re all ridiculously talented.) Instead, I’ve thought further afield and back in time; it’s been quite a journey!

I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree (Nosy Crow) Ed Fiona Waters

Hooray, hooray! In 2018 something unusual happened. A publisher spent a lot of money on producing a poetry book that was beautiful and inviting. With full colour illustrations throughout, the richness of text is matched by the extravagance of visual interpretation. What a breath of fresh air! Bravo Nosy Crow!

The Magic Box (Macmillan) Kit Wright

Okay, this might seem a blast from the past, but we’re only travelling back to 2010. Are there many schools where children have not been inspired to write their own version of the famous title poem? Playful language, a light touch, totally delightful.

Grandad’s Tree (Barefoot Books) Ed. Jill Bennett

First published in 2003, this book is bold in its treatment of sad subjects that children need to talk about. With poems from the likes of Grace Nichols, Berlie Doherty and Carl Sandburg, you know you’re in for a treat. ‘Always Remembering Eloise’ by Lindsay MacRae renders me speechless.

The Utter Nutters (Puffin) Brian Patten

I’m going to take you back a little further in time. In 1994 this fantastic collection of Brian’s poems delighted more visual learners, who responded to text and illustration working together. I remain still as fond of this innovative book based on the various wacky neighbours all living on one imagined street.

Something Big Has Been Here (HarperCollins) Jack Prelutsky

We’re still time travelling, this time back to 1990. I love Jack Prelutsky! He’s such a master of scansion; there are no untidy ends to tie. I want to skip through the pages of this book, not in the sense of haste, but in the sense of spirit.

When We Were Very Young (Methuen) A.A. Milne

First published in 1924! I’m not just being sentimental, I just love this book, containing classics like ‘Halfway Down’ and ‘Buckingham Palace’. It’s where my love of words started. On top of that, it’s full of wonderful illustrations by E.H. Shepherd!

And my own book?

Riding a Lion (Troika Books) Coral Rumble

Well, it’s kind of back to the future now, because this book doesn’t yet exist! I think most poets feel that their latest work is their best, and I’m very excited about this collection. Anyway, you can never start marketing too early!