Book Review: Welcome to my Crazy Life, Joshua Seigal

Welcome to my Crazy Life, Joshua Seigal, illustrated by Chris Piascik, Pub. Bloomsbury.

Full of jokes, great fun! Some nice poems about reading, writing and poetry in here, perfect for the classroom, to instigate discussion. Lots of familiar situations, not-so-familiar situations, and darned ridiculous situations, this book is bound to please. Recommended.

Book Review: How Many Points for a Panda?, Hilda Offen

How Many Points for a Panda?, Hilda Offen, Pub. Troika.

This is a book of delightful  poems, charmingly and richly illustrated by the author herself, who was CLiPPA shortlisted in 2015. Fantasy and magical poems jostle with the real world wistful and humorous (I laughed out loud several times). Contains poems to please and poems to stretch – recommended.

Book Review: There’s a Crocodile in the House, Paul Cookson

There’s a Crocodile in the House, Paul Cookson, pictures by Liz Million, Pub. Otter-Barry.

Paul Cookson is renowned for his audience-snaring participation poetry performances, and fittingly, these are mostly poems with a purpose – to read out loud with young children, complete with actions and sound effects. Some of them come complete with handy performance suggestions, perfect for use with little ones in the classroom.

Book Review: The Magic of Mums, Justin Coe

The Magic of Mums, Justin Coe, Illustrator Steve Wells, Pub. Otter-Barry.

Mums to admire, mums to entrance, mums who fuss and some football-mum chants – every type of mum, even a dad who’s a part-time mum, is within these poems from Justin Coe.

This lovely book is the partner to his popular Dictionary of Dads, published by Otter-Barry in 2017.

Children will enjoy finding the poetry version of their own mum in these pages, and schools will certainly never be without a great poem for Mothers’ Day – there’s a good range of styles, personalities and aspects of motherhood covered!

Recommended. Here’s a taster:

 

Itchy Mum

 

Mum gave me fun and gave me laughter.

She gave me all the things I asked for,

tasty sweets

and trips and treats.

I gave her… nits for Christmas.

 

When I felt scared she helped me flourish,

when I was ill she gave me courage.

When I had troubles

she gave me cuddles.

I gave her nits for Christmas.

 

So  while she gave without a limit,

her heart and everything within it,

I brought the louse

into the house.

I gave her nits for Christmas.

 

The advice she gave she gave with love.

I gave her lice that sucked her blood,

eggs that hatched

and made her scratch.

I gave her nits for Christmas.

 

There were other gifts. I gave her germs

and once I gave her bottom worms.

She thanked me – not,

but to top the lot,

I gave her nits. FOR CHRISTMAS.

 

© Justin Coe

 

 

 

 

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

Charles Ghigna’s Dear Poet

Dear Poet, Notes to a Young Writer by Charles Ghigna – a Poetic Journey into the Creative Process for Readers, Writers, Artists & Dreamers popped through my letterbox just before National Poetry Day/Week.

The book takes the form of short numbered poems on all aspects of writing poetry – set out on a double page spread, the left-hand side the number title, the right-hand side, the poem. I love the feeling of light and space this gives for each poem to breathe inside your head. Here is one of my favourites:

 

1V

 

When in need

of the poem,

go write it.

 

But do not think

you are

needed.

 

There is no

need

for the poet.

 

There is only

need

for the poem.

 

© Charles Ghigna

 

I love this. The poet as an observer, recorder, describer. What you feel, see, understand, remember will be personal to you, the reader. There are many such observations throughout the book, the sum of a life well-lived in poetry. Recommended!

More information can be read in the spotlight on Charles Ghigna, here. His website is here.

YorkMix Poems For Children Competition!

Could you write a poem to amuse, excite or inspire children? That’s the challenge as YorkMix launches the YorkMix Poems For Children Competition!

The first prize is £250, with runner-up prizes of £100, £75 and £50, and the poems are judged by Carole Bromley.

If you want to write a children’s poem now is the time to try!

Details here.

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh, Poems by Joshua Seigal and Friends

 

There’s something in this anthology collected by Joshua Seigal to tickle all funnybones – young or old!

Joshua Seigal is an award-winning poet, performer and educator who uses poetry to develop literacy skills and inspire confidence and creativity in communication

My favourite poem was my dog, Lola’s, favourite poem. Joshua once wrote a great poem for Lola. She is one of his fans.

 

DogMatic

 

I’ve got a new DogMatic

she’s my automatic pet.

Of all the beasts I’ve ever bought

she is the best one yet.

She likes to play outside with me

but sometimes she gets wet,

and then she blows her circuitry

and ends up at the vet.

 

I’ve got a new DogMatic,

she’s my high-perfomance mate.

Of all the cronies I could own

it’s her I really rate.

I simply click a button

and she starts to calculate

the distance to the park, in metres,

from our garden gate.

 

I’ve got a new DogMatic –

she’s my electronic chum.

She’s smarter than my sister,

more efficient than my mum.

She has a byte at dinner time

and then, when she is done,

a tiny little microchip

comes plopping out her bum…

 

© Joshua Seigal

You can buy I Bet I Can Make you Laugh, humorously illustrated by Tim Wesson, here.

WIN the POETRY BOOKS Recommended for National Poetry Day!!!

Enter this competition to win a set of these wonderful new poetry books, all recommended for National Poetry Day:

Happy Poems by Roger McGough draws together a fantastic collection of upbeat poetry from the very best classic and contemporary poets; Apes to Zebras contains shape poems by favourite children’s poets Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson, certain to entrance young readers; Rachel Rooney’s new collection A Kid in My Class features stunning illustrations by former UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, and every type of kid will find themselves in its pages; The Same Inside is a collection to encourage empathy, with poems covering friendship and togetherness, difference, tolerance, bullying, by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens; while The Song of the Dodo by Hilda Offen is a vibrant and accessible collection full of funny, thoughtful and surprising poems.

Plus, the prize package will also contain Poetry for a Change, the first ever National Poetry Day anthology. It features new poems by the National Poetry Day Ambassadors, Deborah Alma, Liz Brownlee, John Canfield, Joseph Coelho, Sally Crabtree, Jan Dean, Marjori Lotfi Gill, Chrissie Gittins, Matt Goodfellow, Remi Graves, Sophie Herxheimer, Michaela Morgan, Brian Moses, Cheryl Moskowitz, Abigail Parry, Rachel Piercey, Rachel Rooney, Joshua Seigal, Roger Stevens, Jon Stone, and Kate Wakeling. Each poet has chosen a favourite poem to share too, so you’ll also find classics as well as suggestions for further reading (and writing), making this a collection to enjoy all year round.

To enter email poetryday@forwardartsfoundation.org with the subject Poetry for a Change World Book Day NPD competition. The deadline is 14th September 2018.

Once Upon a Star: A Poetic Journey Through Space, by James Carter

 

Once Upon a Star, a poetic journey through space, by James Carter, illustrated graphically and wonderfully by Mar Hernández, is published by Caterpillar Books, and is available here.

Having recently read all about how the Universe started because I was writing poems about space, I know just how hard it is to condense the journey of our beginnings from extraordinarily complicated and immense and beautiful into a poem so simple and immense and beautiful, but James has done it.

If you have young people, do buy this, it’s wonderful.

Wish a Wish, Poems by Moira Andrew

I’ve always liked Moira Andrew‘s clarity of expression, and this collection (Poetry Space), illustrated by Anna Popescu, is no exception. She captures moments wonderfully and although this is a collection for young people, addressing many childhood concerns, there are no concessions as to language, and there is much in here for those of us who remember what it’s like to be young! There’s only one thing I don’t like about it and that’s the font – Comic Sans. Here’s a sample poem:

 

Halloween

 

There’s always that shiver –

a catch of breath at the first taste

……of frost

and a slick of fear… what if?

 

What if that billowing shadow

is not what it seems, the yellow

……street light

a monster’s searching eyes?

 

And those menacing pumpkins…

what if they were to widen  their

……toothy grins

and spit out a stream of curses?

 

There’s always that dread…

what if the undead wrap up

……in darkness

and follow Trick-Treaters home?

 

Halloween’s an in-between…

ghosts and ghoulies, apples

……silver coins,

autumn’s end, winter’s start-up.

 

© Moira Andrew

Last Week to Enter Never Such Innocence Poetry (and art and songs) Competition

Never Such Innocence want to encourage young people to engage with their shared history and heritage, and create their own cultural and artistic legacy to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Together: A UK-German Centenary Project

During this final year of the centenary they are embarking on a youth-centred UK-German creative arts project, inviting schools and educational groups to participate in their project, Together, which provides the opportunity for young people aged 9-16 from the UK and Germany to work in partnership, or independently, to produce poetry, art or songs that are inspired by our shared history: inviting the custodians of the future to draw on the events of the First World War and create messages of hope and unity.

Details here: Never Such Innocence

Two More Days to Enter Your School in the Marvellous CLPE Shadowing Scheme!

The CliPPA Free Schools Shadowing Scheme is now open, but about to CLOSE!

Register here to take advantage of their free poetry shadowing scheme and use their quality CLiPPA 2018 shortlist planning and resources to inspire your class with poetry.

They have produced teaching sequences and poet performance films for all of the shortlisted books. Choose from the following high quality resources to support you to get your class performing poetry!

The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard. Resources for years 4/5
Overheard in a Tower Block by Joseph Coelho. Resources for years 6/7
Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson. Resources for years 2/3/4
Rising Stars. New Young Voices in Poetry by multiple poets. Resources for years 7/8
Rhythm and Poetry by Karl Nova. Resources for years 4/5
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan. Resources for Upper KS3/KS4

Schools are invited to send videos of children performing from the shortlist to poetry@clpe.org.uk by 9am on 7 June. Winning groups will be picked to perform at the Award Ceremony at the National Theatre on 22 June 2018.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? This is a marvellous opportunity – I’ve attended several CLiPPA performances at the award ceremony and they are fabulous!