Posted in CLiPPA, Poetry Awards, Poetry News

CLiPPA Shortlist 2022

Being Me, Poems About Thoughts, Feelings and Worries, by me, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, Otter-Barry Books, has been shortlisted for CLiPPA 2022 (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award). This is a huge honour and we are thrilled.

Being Me was written in consultation with leading developmental psychologist Karen Goodall, and is illustrated by Victoria Jane Wheeler. This is what CLPE has to say about it:

“A collaborative anthology between three poets and an artist, singing together in harmony. Concern for the child and quality of the word is absolutely at the forefront here: these well-crafted poems articulate with skill and care a wide breadth of complex emotions and situations that may well be familiar to children, but they may not yet have the language to describe.

This timely collection strikes balance between difficult issues and hope, without the latter ever feeling forced or patronising. It is now more important than ever for children to be in touch with their emotions and to share with them the tools to help express and navigate them, which this collection performs brilliantly. Articulate, empathetic, and invites profound connection between poet and reader.”

Also shortlisted was the wonderful Val Bloom, with Stars With Flaming Tails, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max, also published by Otter-Barry Books, in a hat trick for Otter-Barry Books, Matt Goodfellow was shortlisted again with his lovely poetry book for younger readers, Caterpillar Cake, illustrated by Krin Patel-Sage, Kate Wakeling for Cloud Soup, illustrated by Elina Braslina, published by The Emma Press, and Manjeet Mann with her verse novel The Crossing, published by Penguin, beautifully and poetically interweaving the lives of two teenagers, one a boy refugee from Eritrea, and the other a girl in Britain struggling to come to terms with the loss of her mother.

Good luck to everyone at the award ceremony, which will be on July 8th at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall!

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.

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 Empathy Day

#EmpathyPoem – Feeding the World

Another #EmpathyDay poem – again from Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan.

9-year old Katie Stagliano brought home a tiny cabbage seedling as part of a school project, and tended it so well it became an enormous 40lb cabbage! She donated it to a soup kitchen where it fed 275 people. Katie decided to start vegetable gardens so that she could donate the produce to help people in need. Katie’s Krops now has 100 gardens across the US, helping feed people in need.

 

Feeding the World

 

One cabbage seedling,

with small stems bowed

and pale leaves furled,

 

given food and water

and love can grow

a heart to feed the world.

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Image from Bayer CropScience UK by creative commons license and changed by removing the background.

 

Posted in Empathy Day

Snow – #EmpathyPoem

I’m posting lots of empathy poems today! Here is one about snow, and small gifts. This poem is in Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan.

 

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

 

Image by Bert Reimer on Flikr by creative commons license.

Posted in Empathy Day

#EmpathyDay – Refugee Poem

This poem is in The Same Inside, Poems about Empathy and Friendship by me, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan

 

Refugee

 

After the bombing

and all are lost

and gone

 

I walk

 

I can carry only

my father’s pride

my mother’s longing

my brother’s blood

my sister’s hope

and my dreams

 

but my father’s pride

cannot be carried

as a refugee

so I lay it down

 

and walk

 

when I sleep

my mother’s longing

is too painful to hold

so I lay it down

 

and walk

 

until my shoes

fall off my feet

and I leave

my brother’s blood

and my own

on the road

as if it is worthless

 

and I walk

so far and

sleep so little

I cannot remember

my dreams

 

so I lay them down

 

I can carry only

my sister’s hope

which is light

 

in my heart

 

 

© Liz Brownlee

Posted in Be the Change

Be the Change – Some Poems Performed by the Poets!

Hello! Today, Matt and Roger and I are launching Be the Change, Poems to Help you Save the World in performance – brought to you from lockdown in Manchester, Bristol and somewhere deep in France… we are wondering whether to do some lesson plans for other poems in the book, if you’d like that, could you get in touch so we can gauge demand?

So – without further ado – the poets perform!

Hope you enjoyed that!

Many poems have little tips at the end for ways in which young people can help save the planet with small, achievable actions.

The book is available here on Amazon, (also available on Kindle), and here from an independent book shop.

Review: Bright Bursts of Colour, Matt Goodfellow

Bright Bursts of Colour, Matt Goodfellow, Illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff, pub. Bloomsbury.

I knew I’d love this book, having seen a few sneak peeks, and I did. I didn’t want to start reading because then I knew I’d get to the end and would regret not being able to read it for the first time again. 

Matt has provided a book with bright bursts of his ability to illustrate the essential with the everyday, his sense of humour with the absurd and poignancy with poems that contain a planet-full of empathy.

Many moods, many colours, many laughs – everything you could possibly want in a poetry book, in a range of styles. I enjoyed every single poem. This book is very much recommended. I insist you buy it right now.

Two poems to illustrate Matt’s range below – one that made me laugh, and one that made me cry!

 

A Special Badger

 

I’m a special kind of badger

in a special badger den

writing special badger poems

with my special badger pen

learning special badger lessons

in a special badger school

earning special badger kudos

for my special badger cool

wearing special badger badges

saying badgers are the best

passing special badger interviews

and special badger tests

drinking special badger coffee

from a special badger mug

but my special badger problem:

 

I am actually a slug

© Matt Goodfellow

 

Strest

 

Charlie never cries

 

not even

when he came down the slide

too fast in Year 5

and broke his wrist.

Miss couldn’t believe it;

he even smiled and waved

to our class across the playground

when Mr Smith drove him off

to hospital.

 

Charlie never cries

 

not even

when his gran died –

he was back in school

the next day

said he was fine,

he’d survive –

but you could see it

in the shadows

of his eyes.

 

Charlie never cries

 

but when it was time

for the reading paper

we’d

revised

revised

revised

for,

Charlie sighed

flicked through the pages

for ages

put his pen down.

Miss appeared at his side

saying try your best, Charlie

it’s just a test, Charlie

and he looked over at me

and I swear I could see

right inside his mind

and it was dark

and he was hiding

shoulders shaking

and he knew

he couldn’t do

what they wanted

him to do

however hard he tried.

 

And I’ll never forget

the day of the test,

 

the day

Charlie

cried.

 

© Matt Goodfellow

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Laura Mucha: Favourite Poetry Books

Laura Mucha worked as a face painter, studied flying trapeze, philosophy and psychology, and swam in Antarctica before becoming a lawyer. Now she spends most of her time playing with words. She is extraordinary fun to know and I can guarantee that in any room, you will always know where she is by the laughs. Laura’s poetry has been published in books, magazines and newspapers around the world, and she’s performed on BBC Radio, at festivals and in schools. In 2016, she won the Caterpillar Poetry Prize. Laura’s book about Love – Love Factually  is non-fiction, and her debut collection is due out next year. You can read and listen to some of Laura’s poetry here.

Heard It In The Playground by Allan Ahlberg.

I’ve been reading a lot of his picture books lately and wanted to check back in with his poetry so I re-read this collection. Child-centred, witty and technically brilliant. Boom.

Everything All At Once by Steven Camden.

I’ve been reflecting on what makes a good collection recently and have concluded that an original and authentic voice plays a huge role. Steve Camden has that totally nailed. This collection feels like he climbed into the minds of KS3 students and articulated their inner workings via poetry.

Plum by Tony Mitton. A classic. Read it.

Selected Poems for Children by Charles Causley.

Predictive spelling keeps changing his name to Charles Casually – and I wonder whether there’s some truth in that. His poems seem so effortless that it feels like they just popped out of him while he brushed his teeth or washed the dishes. I wonder whether he spoke at all times in perfect metre and rhyme.

A Kid in My Class by Rachel Rooney Rooney is a whizz with words and, as always, combines insight with technical rigour in her most recent collection. Combine her words with Chris Riddell’s illustrations and you have a stonkingly good book.

Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson I don’t understand how Hardy-Dawson’s brain works, but I love it. She creates sketches, doodles and sculpts with words and crafts poems I wish I could write.

The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship by Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Matt Goodfellow.

Brilliant poems looking at important themes written by exceptional poets. What’s not to like?

Dear Ugly Sisters by Laura Mucha I’ve read this about 1,526,927 times now and I’m sick of it. It comes out next year but I never want to read it again. Please don’t make me.

Laura Mucha

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 National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week Climate Truth Poem from Roger Stevens

Roger Stevens is a National Poetry Day Ambassador, a founding member of the Able Writers scheme and runs the award-winning website www.poetryzone.co.uk for children and teachers. Roger (link to 3 Simple Steps to Perk up your Poems) has published 40 books for children. His book Apes to Zebras – an A to Z of Shape Poems (Bloomsbury), written with Sue Hardy Dawson and Liz Brownlee, won the prestigious NSTB award in 2018. Recent books include  I Am a Jigsaw; Puzzling Poems to Baffle your Brain (Bloomsbury 2019) and Moonstruck; an Anthology of Moon Poems (Otter-Barry). This poem is from the Tricky Questions, Talking Points section of the just published Be the Change; Poems About Sustainability (Macmillan) written with Liz Brownlee and Matt Goodfellow.

.

Getting to the Truth

Some people say
drinking cow’s milk is bad
For one thing
cows expel huge volumes
of greenhouse gasses
which contribute
to global warming

They say
Drink almond milk.
Almonds are good for you.
And they are.
Very good for you.

But it turns out
that nearly all the world’s almonds
are grown in California*
where there are often droughts
And did you know that
in California
it takes
six thousand litres of water
to produce one litre of almond milk?
That’s BONKERS!
And farmers are ripping up
healthy citrus groves
to meet the rising demand
for almond milk.

Oatmilk seems to be a better alternative
But the whole point is this.
Don’t always accept
what you read on a label.
or what people tell you.
Don’t always believe what you read
in the papers
or see on TV
or on the internet
If you really want to help
Just dig a little deeper
Try and get to the truth

*around 80%

.

© Roger Stevens

.

Thank you for the poem, Roger!

 

Posted in National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Week – Truth Poem by Matt Goodfellow

Matt Goodfellow (links to What Poetry Offers in the Classroom) is a poet and National Poetry Day Ambassador. His most recent collections are The Same Inside (Macmillan 2018), written with Liz Brownlee (me!) and Roger Stevens, and his solo collection, 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. His new book, Be the Change, Poems to Help you Save the World, written with Roger Stevens and Liz Brownlee (me, again!), is out now. Matt’s website is here.

 

Walk

the mown path
through the park
sparkles with dew
which stains the tips
of these too-tight shoes
and way way up
in the stillness
of the blue
passengers
sip cardboard teas
suck boiled sweets
lean back in their seats
and know nothing
of me
down here
on my last walk
to school
© Matt Goodfellow
.
Thanks for this lovely poem, Matt.
Posted in Be the Change

Be the Change – Poems to Help you Save the World!

It’s out today! This is a ‘heart’ book. Written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, this is a book that took a lot of our care and research and love of the planet to produce. It’s for those children who are worried about the things they are hearing about climate crisis, and feeling powerless. It gives them things to do to help.

There is information, there are talking points, springboards for discussion about fairness and tricky climate problems, and hopeful poems about climate successes, too. Poems to cover nearly all of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, poems about toilets, tomatoes and glitter, people, plastic, and paper, whales, weather and windmills.

Perfect for all young planet protectors!