Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Justin Coe: Favourite Poetry Books

Justin Coe is not only a lovely chap, he is a poet, writer and spoken word theatre creator, specialising in work for young audiences. He has taken his act all over the world, including to a sitting room made entirely out of newspaper. He’s the author of  The Dictionary of Dads illustrated by Steve Wells (Otter-Barry Books, published May 2017). 

Justin Coe – My Favourite Books

Daft as a Doughnut by Adrian Mitchell (Orchard Books). I fell in love with Adrian Mitchell when I read his poem “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people”.  His children’s poetry is full of gentleness and joy. I often take this book on my travels to schools, sometimes I just need to wrap my hands around a piece of Adrian Mitchell’s heart!

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (Bloomsbury).  A story about a boy who is initially confused by poetry, but when he begins to write about his relationship with his dog, he discovers a whole new way of expressing his feelings.  This book introduced me to verse novels, but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever read one as simple and as satisfying as this.

On My Way to School I Saw A Dinosaur by Roger Stevens (A&C Black). This is a funny and poignant book of poems aimed at young readers, loosely following a child through their year at school in Frog Class. I’m a big fan of Roger Stevens’ work for children.

I like This Poem edited by Kaye Webb (Puffin). Not being a prolific reader as a child, I was quietly devastated to receive this poetry anthology as a Christmas present. I would much rather my Aunty had given me a fun pack of Curly Wurlys. However, even then I found something to enjoy… in particular “From a Railway Carriage” by Robert Louis Stevenson. 40 years later, I still own this book, so it’s certainly lasted longer than the chocolate would have.  (Today’s Aunties take note though, for the contemporary “Justin”, how about I Don’t Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal instead?)

A Kid in my Class by Rachel Rooney (Otter-Barry) My daughter is 11 and, like me at her age, not a great fan of reading. But when I introduced her to Kid in My Class, she loved it. With a poem for every member of the class (including the hamster), this is an easy to grasp concept that will encourage more children to the world of poetry. I get the same thrill reading Rachel Rooney as I do when I listen to Suzanne Vega’s songs, both have a pinpoint poetic precision I really admire.

For the adult bookA Lover Sings, Selected Lyrics, Billy Bragg. (Faber and Faber). Performers like Attila The Stockbroker, Benjamin Zephaniah and John Hegley re-ignited my passion for poetry that had very nearly died an analysing death in the classroom. But, before I discovered these guys, there was Billy Bragg. These days, I enjoy all sorts of poems. but no words have had a bigger impact on me than those of the Bard of Barking.

I had already been performing for twenty years before The Dictionary of Dads (Otter-Barry ) an A – Z of different Dad characters, was published, so I’m delighted it’s now on its second print and doing well. I’m looking forward to the seeing the sequel The Magic of Mums which is out in February next year.

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!

Posted in Favourite Children's Poetry

Brian Moses’ Favourite Poetry Books

Fifth in the series where I ask children’s poets for their favourite poetry books! They can choose 5-8 books, one of which can be an adult collection, one of which must be their own. This week it’s thank you to wonderful, percussionist and poet and big supporter of all children’s poets and poetry, Brian Moses. Brian published my first ever poem.

A Desert Island Discs invitation from Liz Brownlee but children’s poetry books, not discs. Where to begin? What to select from the vast collection I’ve built up over the years. Well, this is how it stands at the moment.

Late Home by Brian Lee (Kestrel Books imprint of Penguin in 1976)… It’s an evocation of childhood, the sort of childhood that I had. The title poem looks at how time flies when you’re deeply involved in some childhood activity and then suddenly, you’re late, two hours late home.

I wondered just what had happened

To Time, for three hours in June:

If all my life is as happy –

Will it all be over as soon?

Walking On Air by Berlie Doherty (Lions Poetry, 1993) Berlie’s first (& only I think) collection of poetry and like Brian Lee’s book, it looks at childhood. Some classic first lines ‘Playgrounds are such gobby places’, ‘I went to school a day too soon.’ ‘Fishes are stars’. These are lines that intrigue and the poems that follow are wonderful observations. No filler here! A gem of a book.

Please Mrs Butler by Alan Ahlberg (Puffin 1983) Should be required reading for anyone starting to write poetry. The poems are a master class in how to use rhyme effectively & unexpectedly. ‘Dog in the Playground’ is a perfect read aloud.

The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East. selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, (Aladdin paperbacks, 1998). Couldn’t put it better than Karen Hesse in her introduction: ‘Under the ancient cadences, under the vibrant imagery lies a contemporary tension that flashes to the surface, bringing a strong, Middle Eastern light to shine upon the rubble wrought by today’s conflicts.” One I return to again and again.

Rabbiting On by Kit Wright (Lions, 1978). One of the first poetry books I used in the classroom. ‘Dad, the Cat & the Tree’ & ‘The Party’ (Dave Dirt’s poem) were requested over and over again.

Morning Break & Other Poems by Wes Magee (Cambridge University Press, 1989). Pie Corbett and I were big fans of Wes’s adult poetry collections and were excited when his first two collections for children were published. This is the one for older readers. Some wonderfully spooky stuff and also more sensitive material such as ‘Until Gran Died’ and ‘Tracey’s Tree’.

The Journal of Danny Chaucer (Poet) by Roger Stevens (Dolphin Paperbacks 2002). Must have been one of the first verse novels for children/young adults. Danny’s dreams of girls, guitars and rock ’n’ roll. Was also a radio play for BBC Radio 4 I believe. Great fun.

I was going to choose If I Were In Charge of the World by Judith Viorst too, but Eric Ode bagged that one first.

And I’m supposed to mention one of mine. Think it has to be Lost MagicThe poems that I consider to be the best ones I’ve written over the past 25 years. Published by Macmillan 2016. Believe in what you write, it’s advice I’m always handing out.

Thanks Liz, for making me think.

Brian Moses

Posted in My Favourite Poetry Books

Roger Stevens; My Favourite Poetry Books

My Favourite Books of Poems

Here is the first in a series where I’ll be 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. First to go is Roger Stevens, who idea this was!

Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here (Puffin) Michael Rosen. Michael reminds us what it’s like to be a child. The poems are funny, clever and full of heart.

The World’s Greatest Space Cadet (Bloomsbury) James Carter. There are so many brilliant books around to choose from but, well, I just really like this one.

The Dictionary of Dads (Otter-Barry Books) Justin Coe. This book is full of funny, sad and very thoughtful poems, brilliantly written. Every class should have one.

Picnic, Lightning (Random House) Billy Collins (for grown-ups). If you don’t know Billy Collins check him out. He has a very natural style, and is easy to read. But the way he tackles both big themes and small themes, is so skilful, it almost makes you gasp.

Apes to Zebras: an A – Z of Shape Poems (Bloomsbury) Liz Brownlee, Sue-Hardy Dawson and Roger Stevens. A tricky book to put together, but it turned out well in the end. It won an award you know.

Thank you, Roger! There will be more poet’ choices to come. Do you have a favourite book of children’s poems? Let me know what it is in the comments!

Posted in Famous children's poets

Moonstruck!

I have rather a backlog of books to review… but this is one I will be reviewing, the new anthology of moon poems, Moonstruck by Roger Stevens, published by Otter-Barry and wonderfully illustrated by Ed Boxall. I caught a glimpse when we saw each other a little while ago when we were performing for the Teachers’ Book Group Conference. It was beautiful. Out in hardback in the US, and in paperback here soon.

Here’s Ed with some of his illustrated books at a book fair we met at a little while ago.

Posted in A to Z Challenge 2019

AtoZ Challenge; S is for 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, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. 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) won the prestigious NSTB award in 2018. Recent books include The Same Inside; poems about empathy and friendship (Macmillan 2018), The Waggiest Tails; poems written by dogs (Otter-Barry 2018) and I Am a Jigsaw; Puzzling Poems to Baffle your Brain (Bloomsbury 2019). A book just published is Moonstruck; an Anthology of Moon Poems (Otter-Barry), and in August there will be Be the Change; Poems About Sustainability (Macmillan) and a “best of” collection will be published later in 2019. Roger spends his time between the Loire, in France, and Brighton, where he lives with his wife and a very shy dog called Jasper.

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Here is the funny poem Roger sent for the poetry feast:

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Escape Plan

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As I, Stegosaurus
stand motionless
in the Natural History museum
I am secretly planning
my escape.

At noon
Pterodactyl
will cause a diversion
by wheeling around the museum’s high ceilings
and diving at the curators and museum staff
while I
quietly slip out of the fire exit
and melt
into the Kensington crowds

.

© Roger Stevens

From The Monster That Ate the Universe, Macmillan 2004

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

If you’d like to blog hop to another AtoZ Challenge post please try this link.

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

PoetryZone Competition – get your entries in!

Roger Stevens is asking for Christmas poems on PoetryZone – “It can be a funny poem about reindeer on the roof, Grandad hanging up his socks for Santa or Mum dropping the Christmas pud. It can be sad. (Not everyone has a happy Christmas. Think about the homeless or refugees.) Or it could be serious. How about writing a prayer for peace? Your poem might be religious – Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus – or about other aspects of the festive season. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, send us a poem about the holidays or all about winter.”

For young people between the ages of 3-18. Details on how to enter here.

Posted in Poetry Celebration/Anniversary

Poetry Zone – a Celebration of 20 years of Children’s Poetry!

Last night in London, in the setting of the CLPE‘s wonderful library, was the FABULOUS party to mark the 20th anniversary of PoetryZone, the website started by the wonderful poet Roger Stevens, and the publishing of the excellent book above by way of celebration.

PoetryZone has supported and encouraged many generations of children in their poetry by giving them arena to post their poems, see them published, and get feedback – it is a wonderful resource for young poets everywhere; it has had more than a MILLION visitors in its 20 years on the web!.

PoetryZone, a Celebration of 20 Years of Children’s Poetry, is published by Troika, and is chock-full of Roger’s favourite poems by a number of top children’s poets – and also some mind-blowing poems by some of the 30,000 children who have had their work published on the PoetryZone website.

The night was a happy mix of lovely children’s poets (a whole boatload of whom turned up to help celebrate and honour Roger) and poetry, with readings from the poets present, including me, Sue Hardy-Dawson, Laura Mucha, James Carter, Andrea Shavick, Trevor Parsons, Coral Rumble, Celia Warren, John Agard, and of course, Roger himself.

A very lovely evening indeed.

 

Posted in Poetry Awards

Apes to Zebras, Winner of the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards 2018 for Poetry

Award winning children's poetry
Apes to Zebras, by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, Award Winner!

There aren’t many awards for children’s to poetry so it’s pretty special to win one of them!

I’m thrilled to announce, with Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens, that we have won this year’s North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award for Poetry, which is voted on by teachers from North Somerset and all over the UK.

A huge thank you to all the teachers who took the trouble to read the entire shortlist and vote on them. What a special thing. We are overjoyed that our book is helpful and being used in schools.

Over the next few days I will be sharing videos of some of the poems from the book read by the authors.

Book Award

 

 

Posted in Poetry Awards

North Somerset Teachers’ Book Awards Shortlist for Poetry Announced

This award is voted for by teachers who use poetry in the classrooms, so it is thrilling to even be nominated.

Here are this years shortlisted books in the poetry category:

#NSTBAs team go all out; the longlist reviews all the books (poetry and fiction and non-fiction) in wonderful detail, and the shortlisted books are all pictured with fabulously cute dogs, making the whole process very, very special.

The organisation involved in getting Lady and Mungo dressed in the correctly coloured bows to set off each book alone must be epic!

Here’s each book in detail:

I’m thrilled to be involved in this shortlisting with lovely Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens. The work involved in writing and shaping all these poems into the animals they are about took months and months of back-breaking work, and it’s wonderful to have it recognised! This book was published by Bloomsbury, who have made a beautiful hardback book on quality paper with two colour printing to properly show off the loveliness inside! Artwork by Lorna Scobie.

Matt Goodfellow‘s first entry on the shortlist is his wonderful single voice book, Chicken on the Roof. Matt has a sensitive and lyrical way with words, and Otter-Barry, the publisher, always do a fine job with quality paper and excellent illustrations, in this case by Hannah Asen.

Zaro Weil’s fabulous Firecrackers is an amazing bumper book of poems, wordplay and stories with gorgeous illustrations by Jo Riddell. It is published by Troika in association with ZaZa Books in an eye-catchingly large format hardback.

And lastly – I’m over the moon to be shortlisted again for this award with The Same Inside, with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, both also shortlisted twice. The Same Inside is a book of poems all about empathy, tolerance, kindness, and love; there are poems in here to spark conversations and opinions about many sensitive subjects that are or could be worrying our young people today. It was hard to write! But a subject dear to our hearts. The publisher is the long-time stalwart of children’s poetry, Macmillan, with a wonderful cover by Debbie Powell.

The winner is announced on November 10th at the award ceremony.