Posted in Poetry Review

Riding a Lion, by Coral Rumble: Book Review

Published TODAY! Slip between the pages of this book and relax into Coral’s warm, vibrant, exciting, world of poems – it seems a poem about practically everything, in every poetic style, lies within.

I particularly enjoyed her animal poems (of course) but there is much to entertain, fascinate and make you laugh in this book.

Coral is an excellent poet and her exacting word choices explode little bombs of enjoyable recognition.

Here’s a couple I enjoyed – firstly, this lovely fox poem:

And lastly, a humorous one:

Riding a Lion is out TODAY, has lovely illustrations by Emily Ford, is published by, and can be bought at Troika Books, as well as all on Hive and any books shop.

FIVE fizzing stars and a big bang of recommendation!

Posted in Poetry News

National Poetry Day 2020!

The brilliant thing about National Poetry Day is that it does not need to be covid-cancelled. Poetry lends itself wonderfully to showcasing using an array of online opportunities, and the day will go ahead on October 1st.

This year’s theme is vision – my poem on the subject is below, also available on the NPD website.  I’m very proud to be a National Poetry Day ambassador, and you can see all the ambassadors here with their poems for National Poetry Day, too! 

If you have a poetry event planned for any age, you can add it to the National Poetry Day events calendar.

Don’t forget you can book a poet to do a Zoom or Skype or other online event for National Poetry Day – including me!

Long-Eared Owl

 

Who Knows?

 

Who knows what the owl sees
with its yellow planet eyes
shuffling moonlight in its feathers
under aubergine night-skies

who knows where the owl sees
hiding in the clambering trees
interrogating movements
from the doorways of the leaves

who knows how the owl sees
as the scrambled ground protects
the taps of tiny heartbeats
where evening dark collects

who knows who the owl’s seen
when its vision paths its flight
passing like an exhaled breath
until lost inside the night

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Posted in Poetry Review

Dear Ugly Sisters, by Laura Mucha: Book Review

I knew I’d love Dear Ugly Sisters as much as I love Laura herself – she’s a BIG bundle of energy, thoughtfulness and fun, and so of course is her book.

Here are just two of the spreads to show her range, first, the title poem:

And a more wistful one:

As a fabulous extra, there is a code to a free accompanying audio book, which is is great bonus!

I predict this book will give laughter, thoughts, questions, comfort – and sow the seeds of a love for poetry in any young person who reads it or has it read to them. A must for every library, home and school.

BIG recommendation, 5 SPARKLY, FIZZING stars for young people aged 7-11.

Dear Ugly Sisters is published by Otter-Barry Books and is beautifully illustrated by Tania Rex.

Posted in Poetry Review

Belonging Street by Mandy Coe, Book Review

 

YOU ARE HERE

 

In the car park is a map of your town.

Everyone presses their finger

on the red dot that says,

You are here.

 

And here you are!

Inside your shoes, inside your skin

and beneath your hair,

on freshly cut grass, a double-decker bus,

or in bed, slipping into a dream.

 

In a map of your day

you are here, bookmarking

this page, passing ginger biscuits,

dodging umbrellas

as you dash through the rain.

 

You are blowing on a hot chip

and laughing with a friend.

Breathe in the smell of vinegar

and place your finger on this moment.

 

You are here, you are here!

 

© Mandy Coe

 

This is a gentle, relatable book full of humour and the wonder of being alive – to quote another of the poems ‘wrap it around you to keep you warm’.

There are many lovely, finely observed poems in here to share between parents and children, and poems that can be used as models for children’s own writing in school.

5 Stars – highly recommended for young people 5-9!

Belonging Street is published by Otter-Barry Books and is full of playful, detailed illustrations by Mandy Coe herself.

Posted in Children's Poetry Magazine

the caterpillar Magazine

Do you enjoy children’s poetry, do you know children who love beautifully illustrated stories and poems? Perhaps you know someone with children or grandchildren? Do let them know about the caterpillar magazine.

It’s a magazine of poems, stories and beautiful illustrations, by grown-ups for children. Created for young people between the ages of 7 and 11(ish), adults are bound to like it too. It is published four times a year, in March, June, September and December and is the sort of magazine I would have devoured as a young person.

Some children’s reviews:

Jemima, 11: Jemima thinks the caterpillar magazine has made her more interested in poetry. “I would describe it as colourful, funny, interesting, likeable and accessible/understandable to all.”

Carole Bromley asked Matilda (10), Martha (8) and Mabel (5) what they thought of the caterpillar, and all said they find it exciting to get the magazine in the post, and that they like looking at the illustrations. They like to keep it and reread it. When asked which poems they liked best, Matilda said rhyming poems, Martha said haiku and Mabel said sad poems! They all like writing poems.

There is no doubt that children’s ears are waiting and wanting to hear rhythm, music, new words, new ideas, absurdity, language play and knowledge introduced in a humorous way. Their imaginations crave new worlds with pathways to recognise and help them negotiate this one. They need to read to gain tools to be able to write. the caterpillar magazine is there to supply all this and more.

You can read more about it here.

Quicky Poetry Ideas for Teachers: Similes – what colour is your heart?

Here’s a quickie simile poem idea.

The poem is a description of the person writing it, they should describe each part in the most surprising, and positive way they can. They must be as complimentary as possible about themselves. Each colour should be true, the description of the colour can be as vivid as they like.

Line one describes their hair colour, line two describes that colour further with a simile

Line three describes their eye colour, line four describes that colour with a simile.

Line five describes their skin colour, and line six further describes that colour with a simile.

Line 7 describes the colour of their hearts. This can be ANY colour.  Line eight will be a simile again, and can be of anything, but animals work very well.

 

The colours of me!

My hair is brown

like conkers in the sun

my eyes are brown

as autumn nuts

my skin is paler pink

than summer buds

and my heart

is dappled

like the leopard

that hides in the grasses.

 

Have fun! This poem can be done with many variations.

Posted in Poetry Art and Craft, Poetry Fun!

Writing a Moon Poem and Hanging it on a 3D Moon!

Today I’m going to guide you to write a poem about the moon – this can be written out onto paper or a disc of card and hung up, or written onto a 3D moon to hang as a mobile!

This is a circular poem – the first line is the same as the last line, and on the mobile it IS the same line. If you write it correctly, it doesn’t matter where you start in the poem, it will still make sense.

Start every line with a capital letter. Do not use rhyme.

You will be writing your poem from what is known as ‘the first person’ perspective. That just means you are writing as if you ARE the moon. You only use words like ‘I’ and ‘My’ and ‘Me’. Your first line (and last line!) is:

Because I am the moon

Your second line starts ‘I am the colour’ – try and think of interesting, unusual, or surprising things that are the same colour as the moon. My second line is:

I am the colour of cobwebs and smoke

Your third line begins ‘My mountains’. This line will be a lie. The mountains will do something that mountains cannot really do. My third line is:

My mountains tell me stories

Your fourth line begins ‘My secrets can be found’. This line is also a lie. Try and think of the most wonderful, unusual, exciting, amazing place the moon’s secrets might be found. My fourth line is:

My secrets can be found in silver coins

Your fifth line starts ‘I wish’. What ambition might the moon have? Think about what might be exciting to you if you were the moon.

I wish I was a shooting star

Your sixth line begins ‘I’m sad’ – the moon might be lonely all on its own in space. It has no air, no water, no plants or animals. Because there is no air, there is no sound, because sound waves use air to travel though. Think about being the moon, and decide what you would miss the most. This is my sixth line:

I’m sad I cannot hear Earth’s songs

Your seventh line starts ‘I dream’. What would the moon dream about? Perhaps another of those things she does not possess? Maybe there is something she would like to do, or try, or someone/something she would like to meet? My seventh line is:

I dream of being kissed with clouds

Your eighth line begins with ‘My seas of dust hide’. What extraordinary thing might the moon’s dust hide? Creatures? Jewels? Words? Magic? Tunnels to another place? My eighth line is:

My seas of dust hide night time lullabies

The last line after this is ‘Because I am the moon’ – the same as the first line. BUT unless you are writing this poem out on a piece of paper, you will not write this onto your 3D shape – because it shares a place with the first line. You will see what I mean when you make your shape!

Here is my poem written out:

Because I am the moon

I am the colour of cobwebs and smoke

My mountains tell me stories

My secrets can be found in silver coins

I wish I was a shooting star

I’m sad I cannot hear your songs

I dream of being kissed with clouds

My seas of dust hide night time lullabies

Because I am the moon

 

Here is how to write your poem onto a moon!

First you need four pieces of A4 paper. Fold them all in half. Then, either use a pair of compasses to draw a circle or find a saucer or something round that is just smaller than the width of the folded paper to draw round.

Then cut the circle through the 4 layers. Or, if you are unsure of doing it this way, draw your circle onto each folded piece of paper and cut each folded piece out separately. You will end up with 8 paper circles. Fold them in half and open them up again.

Write one line of your poem on each of the circles. Remember, you only need one ‘Because I am the moon’.

If you want to illustrate your poem or colour in the circles, it is best done now – it becomes harder later! Then stack the circles with your poem in order, first line at the top-  ‘Because I am the moon’.

Then take the top circle and fold it in half, so the right side folds onto the left side.

Glue this half.

Take the second circle with the second line of your poem on and stick the left hand side of this circle onto the other glued half circle. Make sure the fold matches the fold in the other circle. Be as accurate as you can.

Then fold this second circle in half and glue the side facing you.

And add the next circle on top – again, making sure the folds are all lined up.

Do this with all of the circles, until you have none left. Then turn the circles over so you have half of the first circle on your right and half the last circle on your left.

Take a long piece of hanging string, embroidery thread or wool and stick it in the crack in the middle of the half circles. Use sticky tape to keep it in place.

Then glue the left-hand circle side and stick it to the right-hand half circle. The shape is now 3D and will open up into your 3D moon poem.

Can you see that now the first and last line of your poem is ‘Because I am the Moon’? In fact, because of the way it is written, any line can be the first line, so it doesn’t matter if the moon is not facing the right way when you begin to read it. It still makes sense. You are ready to hang up your moon poem!

Quickie Poetry Ideas for Teachers

Wanting a quick idea to practise using nouns, verbs, and adjectives?

the grass

glitters

its forest

Carol Bevitt, Susan Eames, Helen Laycock

I call these tribbles. Ask your class to write a noun, a nature word, on the top of a piece of paper.

Ask them to pass that paper to the child behind them, or at a suitable distance.

The new child then adds an action on the next line.  You can, if you wish, have a pool of verbs for them to draw from on the whiteboard, so obvious verbs are not chosen. This can also be achieved if the first child folds their paper so the noun is not visible.

Then the paper is passed on again to another child who writes the conclusion, based on the first two words. Ask them to use a noun or an adjective and a noun in the last line, and to keep it as short as possible.

Show them these examples to give them the idea:

 

The Volcano

belched

behind a hand of smoke

 

Susan Eames, Helen Laycock, Liz Brownlee

 

Tadpoles

wriggle

into frogs

 

Sherri Turner, Carol Bevitt, Helen Laycock

 

A bee

fuzzbuzzes its way

up the lupins

 

Liz Brownlee, Sherri Turner, Liz Brownlee

 

Then get them to pass the poems on again to be read out. These little poems give a great feeling of achievement, don’t take long and usually yield excellent results – hope you enjoy them! They can be displayed in many ways and if you choose connected initial nouns can be put together to make into longer poems.

Posted in Empathy Day

#Empathy Poem – A Child Speaks

Aged 9, Severn Suzuki founded the Children’s Environmental Organisation. In 1992, long before Greta Thunberg, aged 12, she and three friends raised the money to travel from Canada to speak at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, to fight for their future and give a young person’s perspective on environmental issues. In 1993, she was honoured in the United Nation’s Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. Sill fighting for the environment, she is now also a speaker, television host and author.

 

A Child Speaks

 

Butterflies

are disappearing

like my breath on a windowpane

 

you would think

this clear view

would help them see

 

but no

 

maybe the last, gentle orangutan?

 

no

 

perhaps the ocean

lapping with plastic bottles?

 

no

 

possibly the last bee?

 

no

 

we save the rights

of those with a voice

 

but we are the undefended

 

the last tiger walking

 

and all the adults do is talk

 

about talking

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

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 Poetry Craft, Poetry Fun!

A Poem on a Kite – Craft and Poetry

Robert Couse-Baker, Flikr creative commons

Today I am going to show you how to write a poem about a kite, and then write your poem on a kite to hang from your ceiling or window!

This is a kite poem I have written in the past:

 

The Kite

 

I am the emperor of wind

my world is sky and sun

 

air surrounds me, guides me

moves me so we are one

 

my red skin glows like fire

I am kite; part silk, part light

 

my tail patterns in circles

in loops and swoops of flight

 

watch me become the wind

and the wind take shape in me

 

it is my soul, my life, my all

it sets my spirit free

 

© Liz Brownlee

In your poem, YOU are the kite. You will be thinking about what it would be like to be a kite flying in the sky, being moved by the wind.

Your first line will be I am a kite – in your second line, you will say where or how you fly. You will use a word for sound in this description. Think of the sounds a kite will hear up in the sky. It could be the sound of insects (what noise do they make?), or the wind, or aeroplanes, whatever sound you think the sun makes (make one up!), or the sound of the people down below, watching.

Your sound words could use onomatopoeia. This word is said: ono-matter-pee-a. No, I can’t spell it either, I had to look it up! These are words that SOUND like what they are describing: ‘The kite swished‘, ‘the wind buffeted the kite’. The words in bold describe the sound, and sound like the sound.

I have imagined what sound the air is making and put that:

I am a kite

I fly through the singing air

Your third line will describe what you (the kite) look like. You will use a metaphor – a metaphor describes something AS something else.  ‘The kite is a spiral of colours.’

I am a diamond

Your fourth line will describe what you are doing, using a verb (a doing word).

shining under

Your fifth line will describe the sky. I thought about what was in the sky as well as the kite – you could think about the colours in the sky, or the wind, or a smell, or clouds, but I remembered that even when it is daytime, the stars are still up there in the sky.

a sky of invisible stars

Your sixth and seventh lines will describe the wind with a simile (when you say something is ‘like’ something else) or a metaphor (when you say something ‘is’ something else). Think what the wind is like for the kite – some words which might help you are: friend, helper, song, home, life, fun, dancing partner, hero, path, direction, pattern.

The wind is like

a mother to me

Your eighth and ninth lines will describe how the wind helps the kite.

helping me to fly

and guiding me back home.

Yay! You’ve finished your poem. Read it out – can you hear anywhere where you could improve it, perhaps by taking out a word, putting one in, or changing a word for a better word? Does your poem make sense? Can you change it a little so it flows well?

This is mine, written out:

 

I am a kite

I fly through the singing air

I am a diamond

shining under

a sky of invisible stars

the wind is like

a mother to me

helping me to fly

and guiding me home.

 

You can write your poem neatly onto a piece of card or paper and hang it on the wall, you could draw a kite to go with it, or you can display it as a kite. Below are the instructions to do that.

First, you need to make your poem into a diamond shape. This is why you have an odd number of lines, one line has to be the middle. First of all you need to write your poem as I have below – so that the lines get steadily longer until the middle line, (probably line 5, which will be the longest line) and then shorter again. You will have to play with the words, adding some words from the lines above or below to get the shape correct. If it won’t work, then add words, or take some away. When you have finished, read your poem out to check you have not added a word in a line and still have it in the line above, for example – this is easy to do!

I am

a kite,

I fly through

the singing air. I am

a diamond, shining under

a sky of invisible stars. The wind

is like a mother to me,

helping me to fly

and guiding

me back

home.

 

Notice that in line 5, where I have added two words from the line below, I have shown where the line finishes by a full stop, to also show where the next line begins. You could also put in a comma.

When you have your shape right, all you have to do is draw a diamond on an A5 sheet of paper or card. You could do it on A4 if your have a lot of words and are worried about fitting them in!

How to draw a diamond shape! Measure and mark half way along the top and bottom of your paper, and half way down each side.

Join the marks with a ruler and pencil!

Then cut the kite out and place it on another piece of plain paper. Use the kite as a template to draw around.

Draw a line across the middle of your rough paper kite and then, again roughly, divide each half with 5 lines. You may need an adult to help with this. Then write your poem in on your rough piece of paper. Work out how to write the lines to fit your kite properly. It might take a while to do this! You may need to change where some of the words go. Don’t worry, you can’t get it wrong, as long as all your poem is on your kite!

Then put your kite next to the rough copy and copy your poem across. Notice I have tried out two pens to see which one would be the right thickness to write my poem in. I wrote the poem on the good kite in pencil again to guide my pen words. Then I rubbed out the pencil when it was dry.

Then it is time to add a tail to the kite. I had an old pipe-cleaner which I twisted into a spiral, but you can use lengths of ribbon, coloured string, wool, anything that looks like a kite tail and which you can attach to your kite! I attached the pipe-cleaner with sticky tape and then a staple.

Then a made a tiny bow from parcel ribbon to put on top of the staple – you could use wool or string or even cut out a bow out of magazine paper or coloured paper to stick there – but make sure it will not hide any of your words.

Thread a thick needle with some string, wool, embroidery thread or ribbon, knot the end and push it through near the edge (not too near the edge!) of your kite, a little way down the top side of the kite, either on the right or left. I put my hole between the third and fourth lines. This means your kite will hang at a jaunty angle.

And then you can hang it up!

Hope you enjoy yourself!

I am so pleased to say that red bubble at Farfield School, @SchoolFarfield have written some wonderful poems by following this idea! Look here they are, flying high!

Posted in Poetry Art and Craft

Words Grow on Trees – Art and Poetry Idea from Sue Hardy-Dawson

Yay! I’m very happy to have a guest art and poetry blog post here from the lovely Sue Hardy-Dawson!

Words Grow on Trees

Why not write and decorate your own word tree? Here’s how:

First of all you might start with a list of tree related words – I sometimes write my list as a mind map.

I have put a few ideas in mine, I bet you can think of lots more things the parts of the tree look, feel, sound and smell like.

I started mine with, ‘Words grow on trees’, because we’re making a word tree. Also when I was small and used to ask for more of my share of something grownups often used to say ‘Do you think they grow on trees?’ which if it was new shoes or a biscuit I thought was funny.

The first verse is about the roots. You will have different ideas so your roots will be made of different things.

 

Words grow on trees

from knotted roots

like coiled ropes

round ancient bones.

 

The next verse is about the trunk, I thought about the texture, things it reminded me of.

 

My tree has a fat trunk

bark, leathery and cracked

as elephant skin.

 

The next verse is about the branches, I thought about them being held up to the sky like arms, you will have your own ideas.

 

Long, strong branches

that can hold the moon.

 

The last verse is about the leaves. Mine are spring leaves, soft, green and new but yours might be autumn leaves and different colours or thick dark shady ones. I wanted my poem to end with words as it was a word tree and I thought about trees whispering words. Again it’s your poem so there are no wrong ideas.

 

Spring brings new buds

of soft green leaves

everyone of them soon

whispering different words.

 

Once you have written your poem, you are ready to make your word tree. Here’s my finished poem and this is what you do next.

 

Words Grow on Trees

 

Words grow on trees

from knotted roots

like coiled ropes

round ancient bones.

 

My tree has a fat trunk,

bark, leathery and cracked

as elephant skin.

 

Long, strong branches

that can hold the moon.

 

Spring brings new buds

of soft green leaves.

Everyone of them soon

whispering different words.

 

So here’s how to write out your poem, in the shape of a tree, starting with the roots at the bottom, so you read it up instead of down. It’s probably easier to show you so here is a picture:

Now the really good thing about trees is that you can’t really go wrong, so if as I did you have a word that sticks out it just looks like a twig. Basically, as long as it’s sort of thin in the middle, is wider at the root and has some branches it’s going to look like a tree.

Once you have written your poem in a tree shape, you are ready to put the leaves on. You could just draw them of course but I did mine with finger prints in paint. It works best with two or more colours and I would suggest you have another spare sheet of paper nearby to dab your finger on first so it’s not too thick and drippy.

Here’s how I built mine up:

So here’s my tree and I think it looks quite nice like that and of course you might just want to leave it there.

However I thought it might be even nicer to cut it out and stick it onto a different colour background and add some grass and other bits. So that’s what I did with mine and here it is:

© Sue Hardy-Dawson

Thank you so much Sue for that fabulous idea!