Posted in Shaping the World, 40 Historical Heroes in Verse

Come the Launch of Shaping the World!

Are you a teacher? Do you have a class you’d like to introduce to female and male historical heroes – via shape poems?

Are you free at 9:30 am on the 22nd of April?

Are you a shape poem fan?

If so. come and find out how penicillin was discovered (by being messy!), why Shakespeare is so loved, who invented the first sliced loaf of bread, or the system known as the Socratic method still used to solve crime today, and hear why Rosa Parks refused to leave her seat on that bus!

There are 20 female and 20 male heroes in the book, and many of the poems will be read by their authors – me, Matt Goodfellow, Roger Stevens, John Dougherty, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Jan Dean, Cheryl Moskowitz, Chitra Soundar, Dom Conlon, Shauna Darling Robertson, Kate Wakeling, Laura Mucha, Myles McLeod, Suzy Levinson, and Penny Kent – all hosted by Gaby Morgan, Editorial Director at Macmillan Children’s Books

At the same time as the readings, you will also see the wonderful shape poems themselves!

Opportunities to ask the poets questions included, FREE!

In fact the whole event is free, get your tickets here:

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Matt Goodfellow: My Favourite Poetry Books

Tenth in my series where I ask a well-known poet to choose some of their favourite poetry books is Matt Goodfellow. One of my favourite writing companions, Matt and I have written two books together, with Roger Stevens. He was asked to choose 5-8 books, one of which could be an adult collection, one of which had to be his own. Matt is a poet and National Poetry Day Ambassador. His most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), and Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with me and Roger Stevens. His solo collection is Chicken on the Roof  illustrated by Hanna Asen (Otter Barry 2018). He visits schools, libraries and festivals to deliver high-energy, fun-filled poetry performances and workshops. Matt’s website is here.

Some of Matt’s Favourite Children’s Poetry Books:

Wallpapering the Cat by Jan Dean (Macmillan). Jan is a stupendously brilliant writer, up there with the very, very best. Funny, clever, thoughtful, playful, weird and honest, this is a collection that showcases her poetic talents. Seek it out – and anything else she has ever written.

Evidence of Elephants by Gerard Benson (Viking). This book contains one of my all-time favourite poems, ‘River Song’ – you can find footage of Gerard reading it aloud in his fabulous voice here. By all accounts a brilliant story-teller, actor and all-round good egg, as well as poet, it is a big sadness of mine that I’ll never get to meet the great man.

Snollygoster and other poems by Helen Dunmore (Scholastic). Helen Dunmore’s death was a huge loss for poetry. I first started reading her poems when I was just starting to dabble with writing my own – and this book was one I read over and over again. She was a beautifully gifted writer.

I Had a Little Cat by Charles Causley (Macmillan). Causley wrote so many brilliant poems over the course of his career and this book has got them all! Not really much more to say other than if you are interested in poetry for children, this is one of the important foundation stones you must have in your collection.

If You Could See Laughter (Salt). I love this book. Mandy has such an interestingly elegant way with words and a unique viewpoint on the world. It was immediately clear to me when I first read this book that here was somebody with a special talent. Having met her quite a few times, I can also confirm she is as splendid a person as she is a writer!

Plum by Tony Mitton (Barn Owl Books). To put it simply, I think Tony Mitton is a genius. I recommend you read anything that has his name on it!

Black Country by Liz Berry (Chatto & Windus). This book, written for adults, was recommended to me by my good friend, poet Dom Conlon. Dom has excellent taste and the second I dipped my toe into this rich collection I knew I was going to love it.

Chicken on the Roof by Matt Goodfellow (Otter Barry). I s’pose I better also recommend one by me! This is my most recent solo collection. I hope on reading it you’d find simplicity, depth, sadness, silliness, laughter, warmth and love. Lofty ambitions, eh?

Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

#AtoZChallenge; D is for Jan Dean

D in the Poetry Feast is Jan Dean – oh, Jan is fun. She is also a National Poetry Day Ambassador, writing poems in a tucked away corner of her house, next to a rubber chicken handbag and Templeton the kiwi.  She has two full collections of poetry, three collaborations and is in over a hundred anthologies.  She used to visit schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes, but has recently retired, however, she will never give up writing poems! Her latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello (written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan). Jan’s website is here.

Jan gave me free reign to choose any of her poems so I chose one from The Penguin in Lost Property, because it is very typical of Jan’s wonderful sense of humour, and it made me laugh.

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Unsuccessful Pets

 

Given half a chance

A skink would slink off

 

In the blink of the eye of a lynx

A skink would skulk away

 

Yes, I think a skink would slink

Because I once had a skunk

 

And it slunk

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© Jan Dean

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If you would like to blog hop to the next AtoZ Challenge then follow this link.

Children’s Poets’ Climate Change blog: Be the Change

Liz’s Blog: Liz Brownlee Poet

Liz’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizpoet

KidsPoets4Climate Twitter: https://twitter.com/poets4climate

Children’s Poetry Summit Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidspoetsummit

Posted in International Womens Day

A Poem from Jan Dean on International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

Jan Dean’s latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello, and written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan.

This is one of her wonderful poems from Reaching the Stars.

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Advice to Rapunzel

 

Sort yourself out.

Don’t hang around

for someone else to rescue you.

 

Give yourself a trim.

Pick up the scissors,

it’s not rocket science.

 

Make a rope ladder.

Twist one. Plait one. Improvise.

Use your head for more than growing hair.

 

Escape.

Secure the ladder

Shimmy down and leg it.

 

Don’t look back.

Get clean away

Vamoose.  Stay loose.

 

And learn your lesson.

Staying put beneath a tyrant’s thumb

is dumb.

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© Jan Dean

 

Reaching the stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, can be bought here.

Posted in A to Z Blog Challenge 2018

D is for Children’s Poet Jan Dean, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

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Jan Dean

Jan Dean is a British poet and a National Poetry Day Ambassador. She writes poems in a tucked away corner of the house, next to a rubber chicken handbag and Templeton the kiwi.  She has two full collections of poetry, three collaborations and is in over a hundred anthologies.  She visits schools to perform her poems and have an amazing time writing with classes. Her latests books are The Penguin in Lost Property, illustrated by Nathan Reed (written with Roger Stevens) and Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, illustrated by Steph Says Hello (written with Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan). Her website is here.

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Here is one of Jan’s fabulous poems;

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I caught a grasshopper –

 

I caught a grasshopper –

heard its saw-tooth squeaky song

then let my eyes follow my ears

to the pale blade where it sat,

moved soft and slow

so that it wouldn’t know I was there,

cupped it in my hands

before its hairpin legs could flick

and bounce it far away.

 

I caught a grasshopper –

felt it tickle in my pink palms.

Gotcha.  Laughed.

But what can you do

with a grasshopper?

What use is a grasshopper

without the field,

without the sky?

How can it be a green scratch

against the blue

if you don’t let it leap?

 

So I opened the box of my fingers –

It wasn’t mine to keep.

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© Jan Dean (The Penguin in Lost Property by Jan Dean & Roger Stevens. Macmillan 2014)

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You can hear more about children’s poets and poetry, if you follow The Children’s Poetry Summit, @kidspoetsummit on Twitter

Posted in World Poetry Day

Happy #WorldPoetryDay! Celebrating with the mini-film, Poets are Everywhere!

Happy World Poetry Day!

To celebrate, here is a video of Poets are Everywhere, featuring poets Liz Brownlee, the late and wonderful Gerard Benson, Catherine Benson, Jane Clarke, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Andrea Shavick, Roger Stevens, and Philip Waddell. Written by the poets, with extra verses by Jan Dean, Michaela Morgan and Graham Denton. Filmed on location in Bristol, thanks to Blackwell’s Bookshop and Bristol City Museum.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay ‘Girls of the Week’ by Michaela Morgan

Girls of the Week

Monday’s girl stands up proud.
Tuesday’s girl speaks clear and loud.
Wednesday’s girl likes to dream and ponder.
Thursday’s girl loves to wander.
Friday’s child can be slow – or speedy.
Saturday’s child will help the needy.
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
is as good as the rest in every way.

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© Michaela Morgan

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From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in International Womens Day

Poem for #InternationalWomensDay – The Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes

Bobby Riggs, a 1939 tennis champion, unwisely asserted that the female tennis game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him. In 1973, Billie Jean King, who fought constantly for recognition and equality for women in sport, accepted his challenge, determined to beat him. She felt it would set the progress of women back fifty years if she lost and affect all women’s self-esteem. In front of a worldwide television audience of almost fifty million, she beat him easily. The match was called ‘The Battle of the Sexes’.

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Bobby Riggs, tennis champ,

said a woman couldn’t

beat a man . . .

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Billie Jean King, tennis champ,

in three straight sets, showed

a woman can.

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© Liz Brownlee

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From Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Posted in Poetry in Education

Poetry Book for #InternationalWomensDay!

This is the one I’d recommend (unsurprisingly!). It was written by me, Jan Dean, and Michaela Morgan to chime with the 100th anniversaries of the work by suffragists from every walk of life.

Here’s the review in Lovereading4kids:

New poems by three of our brightest and liveliest poets are gathered together in this anthology which celebrates women and girls, lots of them. The lives of the really famous – Malala, Frida Kahlo, Amy Johnson, Hillary Rodham Clinton – are discussed, the roles of women in fairy tales debated, and the achievements of women whose names we’ll never learn acknowledged too. The poem styles are as varied as the book’s subjects, and there are poems to make you laugh, to make you angry, to make you think. It’s a sparkling collection, inspiring and empowering. Buy copies for all the young people in your life. ~ Andrea Reece

Since then it has won the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for Poetry.

Posted in Poetry Book Parade

#Suffragette100 Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls

Poems from the collection by Michaela Morgan and Liz Brownlee.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of SOME women getting the right to vote in the UK. Although things are much improved, amazingly, the struggle for equality (notably, and recently in the press, wage equality) is still going on.

Written to mark the suffragette anniversaries in the past year and this, Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls has proved extremely popular, particularly with teachers, in fact it recently won the N. Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards for poetry.

It celebrates the lives of women through history who have made a difference to humanity in a myriad of ways – not just those women we have all heard of (From Boudica, through Anne Bonny the pirate, to Frida Khalo, Marie Curie, and Helen Keller to Malala Yousafzai and Hilary Clinton) but those that are much less known, or overlooked, or written out of history, or who will never be known… such as the ‘Unknown Worriers’, who kept the home fires burning. It also includes poems about feminism, and some modern young women who have made a difference in their communities.

Of course, there are a poems about the suffragettes – but, perhaps not surprisingly, many of women in the book (whilst they weren’t and were fighting the system to become doctors, scientists, fashion-reformers) also supported women’s suffrage.

Each poem is proceeded by a short biography of the person in the poem.

It seems the right day for sharing part of Jan Dean’s poem, Suffragette.

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Part of ‘Suffragette’

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I want to make my own choice.

I need to use my own voice

I won’t be silent, won’t ignore important things –

the world has queens as well as kings.

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And so I march, protest and claim my right

to take part in my country’s life.

I want what’s fair – to have my say

on who makes laws and who holds sway.

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© Jan Dean