Hey, Girl! Poems by Rachel Rooney, Illustrated by Milo Hartnell, Otter-Barry Books
This is a remarkably honest and tender look at awakening, awareness and acceptance of self as a young girl enters adolescence. Rachel’s poems often directly confront and embrace truths – and this book is a portrait of the poet herself.
The poems also explore navigating these tumultuous and confusing times as someone with autism, which will have added to the feelings of vulnerability, isolation and difference, although Rachel didn’t know of her diagnosis at the time. But the poems that touch on autism give both sides of the coin, and the whole collection also relates shadows and songs along the journey to the future.
Rachel is a stunning, exacting poet – her poems are illustrated by her equally talented son, Milo Hartnell. It adds up to a book worth getting with its message of courage to be yourself.
Your mouth moves in synchronicity
with sounds I can hear,
some of which are recognisable,
like partyinvite and latestgossip.
And somewhere deep inside you,
invisible strings are being pulled
that make your eyes swivel,
shoulders rise, palms jerk upwards.
But even though I am holding
what I hope is an understanding half-smile
and feel satisfied with the tilt of my head,
I am thinking about that wasp in the window,
trapped amongst the stationery.
The way it alternates between
resigned torpor and active despair,
the tap of its wing against the glass.
Highly recommended. Five stars.
*Rachel Rooney’s former CLiPPA award-winning book, The Language of Cat has also recently been republished by Otter-Barry Books – excellent for key stage 1 and 2.