Book reviews - poetry (page 1)

Children love to read poetry, and to have it read aloud to them. It is a wonderful way to extend their language skills and reading poetry can encourage them to write their own. I have also included some books of songs and nursery rhymes.

Adder, Bluebell, Lobster by Chrissie Gittins

These lovely animal and plant poems really trip off the tongue and they are a sheer delight to read aloud. From adder to wren, the poems are arranged alphabetically and they have gorgeous, sometimes whimsical, illustrations by Paul Bommer - I want to get my crayons out and colour them in! The poems are superbly descriptive - bluebells are described as 'a cobalt belt, a lake of bell towers nodding onwards in the wind.' The poems use words to great effect - the vocabulary is superb and a great way to extend children's own use of language. The poems will really encourage children to take note of the world which surrounds us - an excellent collection.

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll illustrated by Chris Riddell

I can't resist quoting from the poem, just in case anyone is not familiar with its wonderful nonsense. "They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; They pursued it with forks and hope; They threatened its life with a railway-share; They charmed it with smiles and soap." The words refer, of course, to the men searching for the elusive Snark. The Hunting of the Snark features an unlikely cast of characters drawn from the Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass. The rhymes trip off the tongue and it is best read aloud to get the full beauty of the sound of the words. This is a superb new edition with wonderfully appropriate illustrations by Chris Riddell; the way he has depicted the characters is sublime and he has really captured Lewis Carroll's intent.With colour and black and white illustrations, , a cloth bound cover, heavy cream pages and a red bookmark, this edition is a real treat, and an ideal gift; one to treasure.

Zim Zam Zoom: Zappy Poems to Read Out Loud by James Carter

This exhilarating collection of poems is a perfect way to enthuse children for poetry. They will be captivated by the bright artwork and the way the poems are interwoven with the pictures. Want to travel in a rocket? Search for a grumpy dragon? Make your very own monster? Visit a higgledy-piggledy farm? Well, hop into Zim Zam Zoom - for fun and adventures galore! Colours, animals, space, music, fairytale fireworks...! The poems have been specially written for performance - teachers will love them for classroom use and for assemblies; they are great for children to read aloud too, in groups or individually. The wonderful use of language will inspire children to try writing poetry for themselves.

Quick, Let's Get Out of Here (Puffin Poetry) by Michael Rosen

Every home should have a selection of poetry books - and what could be better than this superb collection about the ups and downs of family life, written by one of the best children's poets around and illustrated by the superlative Quentin Blake. Every aspect of family life is here - there are the arguments about washing up, there are siblings telling on each other, bathtime, Christmas stockings, a go-kart... it's childhood epitomised and so perfectly accessible for children. Mainly light-hearted but there are a few more sombre poems to make you think. Share this with your family and you will all gain enormous pleasure.

When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

When We Were Very Young is the first volume of rhymes written especially for children by A.A. Milne – as popular now as when they were first written. Featuring E. H. Shepard’s original illustrations, When We Were Very Young is a heart-warming and funny introduction to children’s poetry, offering the same sense of humour, imagination and whimsy that we’ve come to expect from his much-loved books about Winnie-the-Pooh, that Bear of Very Little Brain. Among many others, this book includes Buckingham Palace, Halfway Down and The King's Breakfast. Throughout the book, we share a child's wonder at the world around him as we see things through a child's eye view; A A Milne managed to get right inside the way a child feels in a way no other author has done.

Now We Are Six (Winnie-the-Pooh - Classic Editions) by A. A. Milne

October 14, 2016 is the 90th birthday of Winnie-the-Pooh and these sumptuous editions are the perfect way to mark that auspicious date. This work includes poems for children which feature Pooh helping Christopher Robin with his schoolwork (if helping is the word). It is an evocation of childhood, seen through the eyes of the six-year-old Robin. It includes King John's Christmas, Sneezles, Us Two and Waiting at the window. It's a wonderful celebration of childhood and that magical friendship between Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh, once again written with a unique perspective on the way children think. E H Shepard's line drawings are coloured by Mark Burgess for these books. This is a simply superb collection of books, one to be treasured and enjoyed by every generation.

A Children's Treasury of Songs by Linda Bleck

This collection includes many of children's favourites, all illustrated with bright lively illustrations which reflect the feel of the songs. The selection includes 'Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush', 'Pop! Goes the Weasel' and 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'. And some - like 'Itsy Bitsy Spider', 'Pat-a-Cake' and 'If You're Happy and You Know It' are more than just fun: they develop physical dexterity and teach children about parts of the body, too. It's a good collection for any household to have at hand, to make sure children get to know and enjoy these traditional favourites. Published by Sterling, December 2015, ISBN 978-1454916758.

Vikings in the Supermarket by Nick Sharratt

What a treat - the first-ever poetry collection from the much-loved Nick Sharratt. Six Vikings on a shopping trip, looking for horns for their helmets, As they couldn't buy horns, they thought up some clever ideas which may well take you by surprise - they did me! In other equally entertaining poems, we meet one tartan-patterned cat, a clever little mermaid, a naughty vampire bat, the queen who's really fond of green, the pirate Tidy Clyde, open up this jolly book and meet them all inside! Illustrated by the author - of course - with lively drawings that play a significant part in the enjoyment of this book. The poems are packed with humour and unexpected twists - great fun.

Vanishing Trick: Poems by Ros Asquith

It's great to see this appealing selection of poems from a newly published poet. Catering perfectly to children's interests with poems on topics including How to be Batman, the Year Six Disco, the school bully, being alone, best mates and being a dragon, this has something for everyone - all entertainingly illustrated by the author. Funny, clever and thought-provoking, these poems - some short, some longer - are perfect for sharing at school with plenty to talk about. Try reading poetry sometimes at bedtime - the rhyme, rhythm and repetition are perfect for soothing children to sleep.

I Wish I Had a Pirate Hat by Roger Stevens

Another lovely collection of poems which again features topics with instant child-appeal. Would you rather have a pirate hat or a football? Would you like to have tea with a rabbit, bring home a pussy cat or go in a big red pedal car? And are you a good pirate or a bad pirate? Encourage children to talk about the poems, which really do stimulate thought and ask questions that children do ask, and then encourage them to write their own on the same themes. Fifty fantastic poems for young children from top performance poet Roger Stevens will be a welcome addition to home or school bookshelf.

A Children's Treasury of Mother Goose by Linda Bleck

Linda Bleck's lovely illustrations feature a whole host of cheerful animal characters, who will have a real appeal for children. The ship's captain is a duck; Simple Simon is a dog; Tweedledum and Tweedledee are rabbits and so on. This makes the illustrations really child-friendly, and they will enjoy spotting and talking about all the details in the pictures. Many of the rhymes are the familiar ones you would expect to find, but I was pleased to see some more unusual ones, such as Little King Boggen and Jack Jelf - this makes for an unusual collection deserving of a place on any child's bookshelf. Published by Sterling, June 2015, ISBN 9781454914730.

There's a Monster in the Garden: poems by David Harmer

Be very careful when you go out in the garden - there could be a monster out there! This is a superb collection of child-friendly poems which is packed with topics to appeal to the child in us all. There's the 10 year old Prime Minister, the boy whose dad is a stuntman, manic Great Gran on her motorbike - and the boy on the school trip who wakes everybody up! It's a superb collection and perfect for the classroom or at home. Why not share poems with your child at bedtime? They are wonderful to read aloud and enjoy together.

Crazy Classrooms by Paul Cookson

Children revel in poems about school and they way they relate to their everyday lives. Friends and bullies, teachers and dinner ladies - and the fierce office manager, school days and school trips, – all aspects of school life are here. Witty and observant, this is a super collection of poems from a popular performance poet. Superb use of language, poems that really scan and rhyme - an excellent way to stimulate children to write their own poetry.

I am a Poetato: An A-Z of poems about people, pets and other creatures by John Hegley

This witty collection of poems will appeal just as much to adults as to children. There are hamsters, eleph ants,ruf rufs and many more strange creatures as well as more familiar ones. This unusual poetry book shows a very quirky sense of humour some of which children will love and some of which may puzzle them a little - so share it with your child and answer any questions they may have! The alphabetical poems about numbers are interspersed with some highly amusing snippets and some very entertaining doodles.

All the Wild Wonders: Poems of our Earth edited by Wendy Cooling

Frances Lincoln produce some lovely poetry books, always superbly presented and illustrated, and here is another excellent addition to their catalogue. In this celebration of our Earth, distinguished anthologist Wendy Cooling has chosen poems to make children look, think, and ask questions. It's a well-chosen collection with a wide variety of styles from poets including Grace Nicholls, Thomas Hardy, Benjamin Zephaniah, Alfred Lord Tennyson and other poets from all over the world Colourful but subtle watercolours by Piet Grobler reflect the theme of each poem perfectly and the lively pictures adorn each page giving the book a lovely feel of action and liveliness. A really good book for the home library and an inspiring collection for classroom use.

Classic Poems for Children: Classic Verse from the Great Poets, Including Lewis Carroll, John Keats and Walt Whitman by Nicola Baxter

I love sharing poetry with children and they always respond well to it. I wonder how many people have thought about reading poetry instead of stories at bedtime? This anthology provides an excellent range of poems that children will love, divided into a range of themes including Animals and Birds; Weather and Seasons; Songs of the Sea; At the End of the Day; Magic and Mystery and much more. This division makes it easy to find a poem for every occasion. Covering a wide range of eras, this collection shows just how fantastic poetry can be and it is ideal for reading alone or for sharing. A perfect gift, this beautifully presented book includes gold embellishments to the pictures, a colourful margin down the side of every page and good quality paper; these combine with the excellently chosen range of poems to make this a perfect poetry book for all families.

My Village: Rhymes from Around the World by Danielle Wright

Introduced by Michael Rosen, this is a new edition of a rather special book, which brings together 22 nursery rhymes from around the world, in both English and their original language. From Iran to Iceland and Samoa to Switzerland, this uncommon collection of poems has been carefully brought together to celebrate cultural diversity. They are lovely verses, quirky and unusual and with wonderfully patterned language. I can imagine children delighting in trying to read the various languages aloud! This unusual collection is excellently set off by charming illustrations by Mique Moriuchi.

You Tell Me! by Roger McGough and Michael Rosen

Two of today's very best poets for young people, brought together in one book - what more could you ask? Football, first love, school and snoring, teachers and tongue-twisters and many more make for a a fantastic poetry collection for home and school. This collection will appeal to children of all ages and shows that poetry is for everyone, whatever their interests - it's certainly not all hearts and flowers! The humour is carried on through the fabulous line drawings by Korky Paul; what a trio of talent in one book!

A Children's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Linda Bleck

This is a charming anthology of some of the best-loved nursery rhymes which includes Little Boy Blue, Jack Sprat, This Little Piggy and Humpty Dumpty among many others. The bright illustrations are lively and engaging and with their plentiful detail they offer lots of opportunity to talk about these traditional favourites. Published by Sterling in November 2014 ISBN 9781454913597.

Out and About: A First Book of Poems by Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes has a wonderful gift of getting right inside a child's head and writing from their viewpoint. Enter the world of Katie and her little brother Olly as they romp through the changing seasons, enjoying all the changes weather brings - sunshine, wind, rain, mist, snow. The illustrations perfectly capture the innocence and exuberance of childhood. This book is sheer joy from start to finish with its flowing rhymes about all the things children experience. It's perfect to share and read aloud and will become an enduring family favourite.

Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes from Around the World by Elizabeth Hammill

Old and new come together in this beautiful gift treasury from Frances Lincoln which features 150 nursery rhymes from around the world. Each double-page spread is illustrated by a different artist, who has donated his or her work to the Collection or Archive at Seven Stories, Britain's National Centre for Children's Books - a wonderful way to showcase the work of these talented illustrators. The nursery rhymes are full of variety, from old favourites to vibrant rhymes from the Caribbean and South Africa. A collection to treasure and to return to over and over again.

Sally Go Round The Stars: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood by Sarah Webb

This delightfully illustrated collection of favourite nursery rhymes features many that will be familiar to children all around with world, intermingled with traditional Irish favourites. For those brought up in Ireland, whether still there or moved away, it will bring many nostalgic memories and will be warmly welcomed to introduce a new generation of children to Irish favourites including Two Cats of Kilkenny, The Claddagh Boatman and If You Weren't so Ballymena. The illustrations by Steve McCarthy are perfectly matched to each poem and weave around the words wonderfully.

The Oxford Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Karen King

This would make a lovely gift for a newborn - to be treasured first by the parents and then by the child as he grows old enough to enjoy reading it himself. All the old favourites are here plus some lesser known ones which brings a refreshing new element to the collection. Ian beck's lively illustrations are carefully matched to each poem. The special part of this book lies in the clearly explained and illustrated actions to bring the verses to life for children. A lovely collection.

My Life as a Goldfish: and other poems by Rachel Rooney

Rachel Rooney is a winner of the CLPE Poetry Award, so readers are sure of a treat. Here is a rich variety of topics bound to appeal to children - A monster’s lunch, a wolf boy, Monday mornings, monkeys, headlice, Christmas, making friends, goldfish – and that's not all. Full of jokes, surprises and puzzles, but also sensitive and thought-provoking, this is a collection that will enthuse children for poetry - and hopefully inspire them to have a go themselves.

Blue Balloons and Rabbit Ears: Poems for children by Hilda Offen

This light-hearted selection of poems makes a lovely first poetry book to give children as a gift, to introduce them to the wonder of poetry. It's an enticing mix of original nursery rhymes and poems that to entertain all ages. With four sections: Wild Things, That's Ridiculous!, Out and About and Home Again this collection celebrates the enduring glory of rhythm and rhyme. It is illustrated on every page with Hilda Offen's lively line drawings - I was very tempted to get my crayons out and colour them in - although I wouldn't normally encourage this, it would be a lovely way for children to personalise the book.

The Silly Solar System by Kevin Price

Join the famous astronomer, Patrick McFuddy and his son, Jacob, on their poetic journey through our Solar System. Alongside the catchy rhymes are lots of facts about the solar system, making this book an excellent combination of poems and fact - and a good way to remember things. Robin Carter's illustrations are a key part of the book - every page is filled with his pictures. I would love to see this book used with KS2 studies of the solar system - what a super basis for topic work and displays, and a great way to inspire children to write their own poetry. Part of the proceeds from The Silly Solar System will be donated to The Sick Children's Trust.

Crazy Creepy Crawlies by Kevin Price

Meet Willie the Wasp, Francis the Fly, Ernie the Earwig and their bug friends in this collection of lively short poems with bright quirky illustrations by Robin Carter. A share of the proceeds from sales of this book is donated to World Land Trust, helping to protect wildlife habitats around the world. Whether for reading aloud or for children to read for themselves, this is a super collection of creepy crawly poems with all the elements children love and with superb touches of humour. Fun and original.

Curious Creatures by Kevin Price

The fertile imagination of Kevin Price brings us a super selection of poems about creatures weird and wonderful - there's hungry hippocrocopolypus, the incinerator bee, the shrieking hoolie boolie bird and many more. All wondrously illustrated by Robin Carter - two creative imaginations working perfectly together to produce a lively and entertaining collection. A superbly inventive and original book, ideal for class use, which will hopefully inspire children to try their own hands at poetry - and drawing.

My Grandpa's Beard: Poems by Joshua Seigal

These poems have a wonderful sense of rhythm which makes you want to read them over and over again - preferably out loud. The poems are unusual and imaginative and geared perfectly towards children, with topics that are familiar yet often viewed from a different perspective. Some of the poems - and For Elise struck me - really make you think and ponder. I like the idea at the end of including pages for children to write their own poems and thereby make the book their own. It's also a superb collection for the classroom.

The Owl And The Pussycat: An anthology of poems that every child should read from Buster Books

This attractive hardback brings together a collection of must-read poems for children to treasure; adults will enjoy the collection too. Added value is given by the informative introductions to some of the poems, which aid understanding and appreciation; they also give useful discussion points, making this a good anthology for classroom use. The poems span the centuries and styles, making a collection that suits all ages.

A Is Amazing! edited by Wendy Cooling 

Collections of poetry are something to return to over and again, so a beautifully illustrated hardcover anthology of poems is to be treasured. This well-chosen collection of 33 poems covers the whole gamut of feelings from A (Amazing) to Z (Zestful) via all sorts of feelings including Huffy and Unpredictable. Piet Grobler's beautiful and thoughtful illustrations sensitively reflect the theme of each poem and the variety of styles is fascinating - it's amazing to know they are all from one artist. A lovely book to have at home or school, to bring out as the occasion demands.

Yi Er San: My First Chinese Rhymes by Jie Mu

Yı Ér Sãn takes children on a journey in Mandarin Chinese with over 25 traditional Chinese songs and nursery rhymes to enjoy. And, even if you don't know the language, the guide at the back of the book includes information about how the rhymes are used and translates useful phrases. The accompanying CD introduces the sounds and rhythms of the language and along with the book, makes a fun way to start a very difficult language. The rhymes also give an insight into the culture.

Werewolf Club Rules and other poems by Joseph Coelho

Find out the mysterious rules of Werewolf Club, how to look like a rainbow, what happens when puppies fall in love – and how to fold up your gran! This is an exciting debut poetry collection from a young poet who is already performing his work successfully at venues across the UK. Quirky and unusual, this collection features many topics familiar to children and takes a new look at them.

I'm a Little Alien by James Carter

This collection is an exciting trip around space for young readers. Zoom around this book to find aliens, stars and a greedy robot - as well as funny faces and a ball that won’t bounce back! James Carter is an award-winning poet who knows just what children want - and space is always popular. Young children always respond well to poetry - it's perfect for their relatively short attention span and a great way to introduce them to the use of varied language. The amusing illustration enliven the poems.

My Rhino Plays the Xylophone: Poems to make you giggle by Graham Denton

These poems are great fun - you are reading along thinking you know how they will end and then - WHAM - you are hit with a surprise ending. I love this unexpectedness and it had me reading every poem wondering what the poet would come up with. They will definitely make you giggle and will be brilliant for sharing aloud with a class. The topics range widely - from glow worms to ghosts; from Brussels sprouts to bees. All ages will enjoy these ridiculously quirky poems.

The Orchard Book of Classic Shakespeare Verse by Gina Pollinger

This beautiful collection of Shakespeare's writing includes quotations from his poetic dramas along with a selection of his songs and sonnets. It's a wide ranging collection including much that is familiar along with many lesser-known examples. The verses have been carefully selected to appeal to children, thus instilling in them a love for Shakespeare which we hope will continue and grow as they get to know his work better. Introducing children to Shakespeare through his poetic works works really well for children as they relate more easily to the poetry and it's a good lead in to the plays. The book will be excellent for classroom use. Emma Chichester Clarke's wonderful illustrations are, as ever, a sheer joy and they perfectly capture the emotions of the texts. A lovely gift book and the perfect way to introduce Shakespeare.

Stars in Jars: New and Collected Poems by Chrissie Gittins by Chrissie Gittins

A poet who really knows what children enjoy, Chrissie frequently visits schools and the time she spends with her audience is reflected in the appeal of her poems which often feature familiar settings - families and school, of course. There are many different moods in the poems - humorous, wishful, imaginative - something for everyone and a perfect collection for the classroom. From Birds II is a wonderful example of her use of language and is written in a style that will encourage children to experiment with writing poetry themselves.

Don't Poke a Worm Till it Wriggles by Celia Warren

A whole book of poems about worms! It includes worm poems in various poetic forms, worm-related parodies of nursery rhymes (Mary had a wiggly worm is just one) and many more. It's fun and light-hearted and ideal for sharing and reading aloud. Perhaps a classroom display of worms with these poems? Just right for KS1 children - but don;t be surprised to find some wrigglers brought inside!

Poems to Perform: A Classic Collection chosen by the Children's Laureate by Julia Donaldson

These poems are specially chosen with performance by children in mind, and the notes section at the end of the book includes practical notes and ideas on performing them, which will be warmly welcomed by teachers. The wide-ranging selection which has something for all tastes includes classics by Edward Lear, W H Auden and Eleanor Farjeon and contemporary work by Michael Rosen, John Agard and Clare Bevan. Illustrated throughout with delicate lino-cuts (maybe there's an idea for developing some art work in school here), this is a book for teachers, parents, children; anyone who loves poetry - and anyone you want to encourage to love poetry.

What Are We Fighting For?: New Poems About War by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens

War and its many facets is at the heart of this book. Far from being just about soldiers and fighting, there are poems about brave dogs, cats and pigeons; the Christmas truce of the First World War when soldiers played football in No Man's Land; poems about rationing and evacuation. The book spans the years from World War I to modern warfare. Complemented by some amazing true historical facts, this is an accessible way for children to gain an introduction to war poetry and the valuable insights it provides. Ponder over the poems and what they can teach us.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T S Eliot with illustrations by Rebecca Ashdown

It's Old Possum's 75th anniversary and Faber have commissioned new illustrations from Rebecca Ashdown to illustrate the well-loved poems. Let your child meet Macavity, the Mystery Cat; Mr Mistofelees, the Original Conjuring Cat; Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer and all the gang in this classic work which every child should read. The lively illustrations capture the mood of the poems perfectly and children will have their pleasure enhanced by them. Share this at bedtime and read the poems aloud to get the very best from them.

Sport Poems (Experiencing Poetry) by Mary Colson

I particularly like this book because it will give a new perspective on poetry for those who perhaps find poetry uninteresting or irrelevant - reading and discussing this wide-ranging selection will inspire new interest. Interestingly presented, with links and relationships to sport, this really is a fresh and inspiring look at poetry which helps readers to understand poetry in a different way. There are many sport-related poems included and analysed and the book is colourful and packed with photos. The reader will learn about and understand the techniques poets use and find out how to apply these to their own poetry. Excellent.

Poets of World War I by Rupert Smith

Poets including Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger and Vera Brittain are included in this book, giving a wide range and good to see a woman poet included. With the centenary of the outbreak of war, pupils will be studying much about the war so this will be a useful addition with its outline of the war and its impact on the War Poets. They produced some of the best poetry ever written with its raw emotion and passion which is driven by their experiences. Biographical information and experiences of the poets offer a revealing insight.

Half-Caste and Other Poems by John Agard

The richness of our diverse world is explored in this thought-provoking collection of poems by John Agard. The tensions brought about by differences of race and culture are at the heart of this powerful and entertaining collection by one of Britain's most exciting and original poets and performers. All sorts of poems are here, from the light-hearted to poems exploring politics, grief and violence. Short or long, each poem conveys a message succinctly and effectively. A wide-ranging collection that will make you think.

Happily Never After: Modern Cautionary Tales by Mitchell Symons

A brilliant and wickedly clever take on Hilaire Belloc's much-loved tales, brought up-to-date with all the aspects of modern life we love and hate. There's Rory, the fussy eater; Sophie, whose voice rises at the end of every sentence; Bethan, who appeared on a TV talent show; Simon who never lifted the toilet seat and many, many more. Some, like Bethan, learn their lesson but most come to a sticky end. Adults and children will love these rhymes.  I hope this will inspire people to read Hilaire Belloc's wonderful verse too!

I am a Poetato: An A-Z of poems about people, pets and other creatures by John Hegley

A witty collection of poems which will appeal just as much to adults as to children. There are hamsters, eleph ants,ruf rufs and many more strange creatures as well as more familiar ones. This unusual poetry book shows a very quirky sense of humour some of which children will love and some of which may puzzle them a little - so share it with your child and answer any questions they may have! The alphabetical poems about numbers are interspersed with some highly amusing snippets and some very entertaining doodles.

Let's Celebrate!: Festival Poems from Around the World ed by Debjani Chatterjee and Brian D'Arcy

A collection celebrating 24 festivals from around the world. An eclectic selection with some very unusual festivals featured - how about a tomato festival; an ice festival or Kwanzaa? As I read the book, I found myself really wanting to know more about these obscure festivals so I was very pleased to find that all 24 are described at the end of the book! The poems are from a wide range of writers and each is illustrated by Shirin Adl in a very distinctive style which reflects the poem. Every page is full of vibrant colour. As well as being a lovely book to have in the home, this is an excellent resource for teachers to use in the classroom and especially in celebration assemblies to demonstrate the diversity of world celebrations .

A Time to Speak and a Time to Listen: 100 Poems for Schools ed by Celia Warren

Themed around the famous verse from Ecclesiastes -There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven - this is a thoughtful and wide ranging collection which introduces both old favourites and new poems. The 100 poems, representing 70+ poets from Christina Rossetti to Roger McGough, reflect with thoughtfulness, candour and humour on the contrasting themes of the verses that inspired them. "As a collection, the poems will improve children's phonic awareness and fluency as readers; encourage children to appreciate the richness and variety of poetry; provide opportunities for discussion, reading aloud and performing poetry and encourage emotional literacy as children encounter the varied 'seasons' of life." That's an ambitious outcome but with the aid of the Teacher's Guide (below), it can become reality with this carefully selected collection of poems which offers something for everyone and is an excellent introduction for children to the wonderful world of verse.

A Time to Speak and a Time to Listen Teacher's Guide by Celia Warren

Poetry is wonderful but not always easy to get pupils to engage with it. The combination of the poetry collection (above) and this Teacher's Guide supports teachers as they read and explore with world of poetry. In particular, it gives assistance as teachers strive to meet the new demands of the English curriculum, which stresses the value of reading and discussing poetry and learning it by heart. The guide includes a set of concise teaching notes for every item in the anthology; specific guidance to help the teacher read each poem for maximum impact; theme-based assemblies, including families, self-belief and appreciating others and photocopy masters to support the activities described. It really is a wide ranging resource and I particularly like the inclusion of assembly ideas so pupils get the opportunity to express what they have learnt. Each poem has a page of lesson ideas - a summary; how to read it aloud and a section which homes in on the emotions of the poem to aid children's understanding. An excellent resource.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

No matter how many times I read it, this powerful poem has never failed to send a shiver down my spine. This dramatic poem is charged with drama and tension as we ride with the highwayman and recoil from the terrible fate that befalls him and his loyal sweetheart Bess, the landlord's daughter. This is a much-loved version with Charles Keeping's evocative illustrations that sum up the feel of the poem to perfection - a richly justified winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.

Justin's Rhyme Time by Justin Fletcher

A collection of well-known nursery rhymes with plenty of amusing drawings (and photos of Justin) to enliven them. What is unusual about this book is the way that Justin has linked the poems together to make a story out of them. And I think children will have great fun guessing what might come next - for example, he talks about marching feet - can your child guess what nursery rhyme might be coming? It's very effective and makes something quite different out of the old favourites.

Poems from the First World War edited by Gaby Morgan

These poems show the harsh reality of war as seen through the eyes of  soldiers, nurses, mothers, sweethearts and family and friends who experienced WWI from different standpoints. From the early excitement and patriotism to the heartbreak, disillusionment and regret, it's all recorded here for us to gain an insight into the horrors of war - and hopefully, to learn. Poets include Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Vera Brittain, Eleanor Farjeon, Edward Thomas, Laurence Binyon, John McCrae, Siegfried Sassoon and many more. You cannot fail to be moved by these poems, which come from the heart and enable us to share the feelings of the poets. The importance of this collection is shown by the fact it is published in association with the Imperial War Museum, which was founded to collect and display material relating to the ‘Great War’. 

Nicola Bayley's Book Of Nursery Rhymes

A superbly illustrated collection of nursery rhymes by a highly renowned illustrator. Each rhyme is illustrated with carefully chosen pictures - delicate vignettes which reflect the theme of the rhyme and which often bring together two; the old woman who lived in a shoe seems to meet the crooked man! The pictures give a whole new slant and I love this book. As a beautifully illustrated book, with an immense amount of detail in the illustrations I would recommend it for slightly older children than the usual age for nursery rhymes as there is so much here to enthrall the older reader, and maybe refresh their memories of their old favourites.

Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace: Britain Through the Eyes of A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard

A real gem of a hardback book that would make a perfect gift - I can see grandparents selecting this for their grandchildren. The poems have been selected from When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six - I had these as a child and read the poems over and over again so I very much hope today's children will get as much enjoyment from them as I did. The selection has been made to reflect Britain - lifestyle, customs and countryside - and the poems seem as fresh and relevant as ever, despite the fact they were written in the 1920s. The combination of poetry and illustrations is perfect and this really is a book to treasure with the delicate colouring of the illustrations and the lovely red, white and blue stripe cover.

Let's Play!: Poems About Sports and Games from Around the World by Debjani Chatterjee

This book would make a lovely gift and is also an excellent classroom resource. There's a poem here for the lover of almost every major sport - cricket, football, American football, baseball, basketball, running, relay race, tobogganing, skating, swimming, diving, netball, pole vault, shotput, kung fu, judo, boxing, tennis, table tennis, kite flying, hockey, surfing, riding and horse racing all feature. You will also find a great range of poems about games - skipping, swinging, circle game, computer game, scrabble, chess, snakes and ladders and clapping game.This is truly a multi-cultural book, with poets from around the world and children from many different cultures featuring in the vivid and unusual illustrations. I love the way the poems are interwoven with the pictures to really complement them excellently.

Cosmic Disco by Grace Nichols

This is a super collection of lively new poems from one of our foremost poets. From Aurora Borealis, Sun – You’re a Star and A Matter of Holes, to Lady Winter’s Rap, the Earthworm Sonnet and You – a Universe Yourself, this is brilliant poetry with an astonishing range – comic riddles, animals and nature, home truths and the explosive wonder of the cosmos. The poems really convey the magnificence of the universe and they will make a lovely complement to studies of space.

The Dragon with a Big Nose by Kathy Henderson

Poems arranged by theme are always invaluable to teachers and this has a wide range of topics including family, pets. machines and magic. They are lovely to read aloud with catchy rhymes and topics guaranteed to appeal to children. The language is vivid and some of the poems end in an unexpected way that will make children giggle - Summer is Coming for instance.

Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes by Hilary Robinson

Endless fun with this ingenious split-page book that creates as many as 1728 different rhyme combinations - an incredible total! Just imagine - and this is my random selection - "Little Jack Horner went to the cupboard to give the poor dog a cup of tea." The results are hilarious. I love the illustrations - they are split page too and each reflects the appropriate part of the rhyme; they are vibrant and amusing. An ingenious and imaginative idea which gives us a whole new perspective on the familiar.

Off By Heart: Poems for Children to Learn and Remember edited by Roger Stevens

This is an unusual approach to a collection of poems and one that will make the book very popular with teachers. Learning poetry can be really enjoyable, as well as being an excellent way to develop key skills. Children will love the opportunity to show off to parents, grandparents and teachers and they will find out just how enjoyable poetry can be. The poems are carefully selected to appeal to children as well as to be easy to learn. The key feature of this book is the excellent section entitled 'Tips for learning by heart and performing' which is packed with practical ideas.

Sun Time Snow Time by Grace Nichols

This is a compilation of Come on into my Tropical Garden and Give Yourself a Hug, two books which have been out-of-print. They are excellent for reading aloud with their vivid evocation of the Caribbean, its rhythms and culture. Combined with Grace's experience of moving to Britain this is a truly multicultural collection from one of our foremost poets. The poems are wide-ranging and varied with wonderful use of language.

A Wee Bit of Trouble by Mike Church

A collection of poetry that homes in on the issues which concern young people, and which shows a great understanding of how these issues, which may seem trivial to adults, are important to youngsters. Home and school life are included, with bullying, books and friendship featuring.  Mike Church sees things from a different perspective and farce often rubs shoulders with pathos. Interestingly,the collection emphasises the importance of performing poems and includes tips from the author who is himself, a performance poet. An excellent resource for the school library.

Even My Ears Are Smiling by Michael Rosen

I've said it many times, but I love poetry to share with children and to read aloud - and Michael Rosen is one of the best around, with his poetry which is spot on to reflect children's experiences and emotions. There's lots of fun in these poems; fun that will appeal to adults as well as to children and they will be read over and over again. I love the way the poems reflect the things that matter to children that most adults don't even think of - like the brother who ALWAYS gets the strawberry in the jam. But my favourite is Nursery Rhymes and Hairy Crimes. The poems are perfectly matched by Babette Cole's illustrations which capture the sentiments brilliantly. A bonus with this book is the audio CD containing the poems read by the poet himself.

Jungle Jingles by Dick King-Smith

The master of animal story telling turns his attention to poetry in this engaging collection. It features an eclectic range of creatures, not all of them from the jungle. There are anteaters and earwigs, whales and pike, crocodiles and stoats and many more. The wonderfully inventive and observational poems are hilarious and wonderful to read aloud.

Here Come the Creatures! by Wes Magee

Children up to the age of around seven will love this collection of poems about friends and families, pets and creatures, school, space travel ... Thoughtful, sad, nostalgic, fun, exciting - all sorts of poems are here and there's something for every occasion and every time of year.The poems draw the young reader in, by asking questions and directing the poems to them. Mainly familiar settings will appeal to children, but there's some fantasy here too. An excellent and varied collection.

The Monster Sale by Brian Moses

Popular poet Brian Moses turns his attention to younger children with this amusing collection of poems all about things familiar and dear to young readers, mostly about family and animals. How about 'You shouldn't point and you mustn't stare If you see a bear in his underwear' as an example of how these poems are just perfect for young children? Equally deserving of its place at home or at school, this will encourage young children to enjoy and appreciate poetry.

My Book of Songs and Lullabies (My First Picture Book)  illustrated by Kali Stileman

From action rhymes for playtime to lullabies for bedtime, this is a varied collection of old favourites which merits a place on every nursery bookshelf. Kali Stileman's quirky illustrations are full of touches of humour and children warm to her animal creations. The pastel backgrounds and colourful borders make this book a joy to read and to share. A very practical, as well as beautiful, series for toddlers with strong card pages, rounded corners and vibrant illustrations - a highly collectable series.

My Book of Favourite Rhymes (My First Picture Book) by Kali Stileman

Every new book of nursery rhymes which comes on the market brings something new, and this is no exception. Kali Stileman's stylish illustrations are bright and full of activity - as you read the well-loved rhymes with your little one share the pictures and talk about what you see. The pictures are fun, delicate and detailed and have a wonderful animal cast which will appeal to little children.

It's Behind You!: Monster Poems By Paul Cookson and David Harmer

Beware! There are monsters about! Is there a finger in your biscuit tin? A bone in your bonfire? A monster in your garden? Don't turn round and you'll be safe! A super collection of creepy poems to delight young readers - wonderful to read aloud as they give a fantastic opportunity for all sorts of scary voices to be used. The illustrations add to the creepy fun.

How to Embarrass Teachers Poems chosen by Paul CooksonFront Cover

These are super poems to read aloud - and perfect for the classroom, of course! The collection starts with 'The Whoopee Cushion Waiting on the Teacher's Chair' - what child could fail to find that fun! And the book continues in the same vein, with a wide range of poems long and short, from well-known and less well-known poets. Illustrated throughout with David Parkins' hilarious illustrations, this is just the book to get young readers to enjoy poetry.

101 Poems for Children: A Laureate's Choice by Carol Ann Duffy

This is a carefully chosen collection which reflects the best in poetry for children. There is classic verse from poets such as Edward Lear and Samuel Taylor Coleridge up to modern verse. There is a wide range of genres included and the selection represents a real love for poetry and it will inspire young readers to read more.  Emily Gravett is one of my favourite illustrators for children, and her black and white illustrations perfectly reflect the spirit of the poems - most poems are illustrated but a shame that they are not all illustrated.

Big Book of Nursery Rhymes by Kali Stileman

This is a wonderfully illustrated collection of nursery rhymes which deserves a place on every young child's bookshelf. The soft padded cover, the shiny paper and the superb quality of the layout and illustrations combine to make a really attractive book. Kali's illustrations are such fun and the quirky details are well worth close attention. No boring people here - every rhyme is illustrated with charming animals, all beautifully dressed. There are sections for Favourite Rhymes, and Songs and Lullabies and every one is set against a colourful background.

The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear illustrated by John Vernon Lord 

Issued to celebrate the bicentenary of Edward Lear, this superb collection is wonderful for fans of the poet, and is sure to gain him a whole new bevy of admirers. His poems are wonderful to read and never stale. A beautifully produced hardback, this is one to treasure and return to over and again. The dark and sometimes gruesome drawings by John Vernon Lord capture the feeling of the poetry wonderfully. They are packed with detail and repay close attention as you read the verses alongside them. His foreword is enlightening and adds to the appreciation of Lear's wonderful work.

A First Poetry Book edited by Pie Corbett and Gaby Morgan

This is the ideal poetry book for KS1 and will be warmly welcomed by teachers. The subject-based layout suits both classroom work, and parents looking for poetry on topics that interest their children. Featuring a range of poets and poems old and new, topics include families, food, minibeasts, feelings, pets, pirates, school... the list is almost endless. Presented in a clear to read font, it is perfect for children starting to read on their own (with a little support from an adult). An index of poets and an index of first lines makes reference easy too.

How Do You Make a Skeleton Laugh? edited by John Foster

How do you make a skeleton laugh? By tickling its funny bone, of course! If that tickled your funny bone, then you will enjoy this collection of rib-tickling jokes, riddles and rhymes - as well as terrible tongue twisters, ridiculous riddles, loony limericks, bonkers booklists, daft definitions, and much much more.It's a hilarious and eclectic collection, great to dip into and amuse your friends with the results. 

Michaela Strachan's Really Wild Adventures - A Book of Fun and Factual Animal Rhymes 

Initially a children's TV presenter, Michaela Strachan is now best known as a wildlife presenter. Her love and enthusiasm for the natural world really shines through in this, her first collection of poetry. Told in a narrative style, the poems relate many stories - there's the spitting cobra, an orphaned orangutan, polar bear dentistry and more. They are enlivened by photos of Michaela and the animals, and colourful cartoons. Each poem has a section at the back, giving the background. A lovely way to learn more about animals.

Usborne Illustrated Nursery Rhymes chosen by Felicity Brooks

This beautiful keepsake book would make a perfect gift for a baby - it's a book that will be treasured throughout childhood. Nursery rhymes are such an important part of our heritage and children can learn so much from them, in language and other early learning skills - and, of course, derive hours of pleasure from listening to them. All the favourites are here, as well as some lesser known ones. Every poem is beautifully illustrated, including charming borders on many pages. A slipcase, an embossed cover and good quality paper make this book a delight and one to treasure.

Give Us a Goal! by Paul Cookson

A brilliant collection of poetry about all aspects of football from the talented pen of Paul Cookson. Just right to get boys reading poetry and to stop them thinking poetry is just for girls! There are poems about supporters, about players and about the game itself, some short, some longer, giving a pleasing variety. From the witty take on the Lord's Prayer at the start through to 'We Believe in Football' - a paean of praise for the game to conclude the book, there is something for every football fan. Brilliant to read aloud and share.

A Is Amazing! edited by Wendy Cooling

Collections of poetry are something to return to over and again, so a beautifully illustrated hardcover anthology of poems is to be treasured. This well-chosen collection of 33 poems covers the whole gamut of feelings from A (Amazing) to Z (Zestful) via all sorts of feelings including Huffy and Unpredictable. Piet Grobler's thoughtful illustrations sensitively reflect the theme of each poem and the variety of styles is fascinating and amazing to know they are all from one artist. A lovely book to have at home or school, to bring out as the occasion demands.

Can It Be About Me? by Cheryl Moskowitz

The perfect poetry collection for the classroom, with poems about me, poems about you, poems about everyone in the class - even the teacher. Encourage children to read these poems then think about the people they know - do they fit with any of the poems? Many important themes for children are covered - friendship, playing games, teachers, bullying, jealousy, quarrels and secrets... a great way to discuss issues and to help children look at different behaviours. Funny, thoughtful and entertaining, Cheryl Moskowitz is an exciting new talent, and in tune with what goes on inside and outside the classroom.

Lucky: Poems and Drawings by Roger McGough

Frances Lincoln publish regular collections of children's poetry and they provide a lovely way to build up a child's collection of poetry books. This is a reissued collection which is adorned with Roger McGough's own drawings. His clever use of words makes the reader see commonly accepted phrases in a new light - "Morning has broken. Is it too late to mend it?" "Is an eye-opener a gadget for opening eyes?" A clever collection of poems which are excellent to read aloud to share the fun. Selected for the Summer Reading Challenge 2012.

Thawing Frozen Frogs: Poems by Brian Patten 

If your child is not too keen on reading, why not introduce poetry? They can read just a few poems at a time and gain real enjoyment. Brian Patten covers many different topics - family, animals, school and the seasons are just some, so there is bound to be something to capture a child's interest, whether read aloud or alone. Every poem is illustrated. A fascinating collection which may change the way you look at some things! Good to see it reissued.

Under the Spell of the Moon edited by Katherine Paterson

This lovely book is subtitled 'Art for children from the world's great illustrators' and it is a collection of poems from around the world, all illustrated in outstanding style. The book is produced in support of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Some of the world’s greatest picture book illustrators (including Quentin Blake and Anthony Browne) have chosen a favourite poem, riddle or game from their own childhood and created a work of art to illustrate it. Beautifully produced on glossy paper, this is an inspiring collection which deserves a place on every child's bookshelf.

All the Wild Wonders: Poems of Our Earth ed by Wendy Cooling

Poetry is a wonderful way to make children think and question. Facts are often presented very succinctly and rhyme makes them memorable for children. This collection encourages children to think about the world around them - how can we save our ponds? why do we need trees? There is a pattern in the grouping of the poems, which adds meaning to this collection from poets all around the world. Piet Grobler's delicate watercolour illustrations bring another dimension to the poems and are full of intriguing details for children to spot.

The Young Inferno by John Agard

An excellent retelling of Dante's Inferno for the younger reader - or for older readers, perhaps studying it at school, who want a quick overview or refresher. The text of this retelling is sharp and incisive and brings the classic right up to today. 'If only I'd charged my mobile phone' is a phrase which will resonate with today's youth and this clever use of text is a great way to engage young people with this story. The 'hero' is led through each stage of the modern-day hell by teacher Aesop. The stunning illustrations by Satoshi Kitamura are atmospheric and compelling and the whole combines to make a thought-provoking work which will make many question our modern society.

What Rhymes With Sneeze? by Roger Stevens

This is the book you need to hand next time your child comes home from school and says 'I've got to write a poem.'  Including poems by Roger Stevens and classic and contemporary poets from Gerard Benson to Hilaire Belloc, this book celebrates rhyme. Find out how and why the different forms of rhyme work and pick up useful tips on how to write rhymes. It really makes poetry writing fun and gives children the opportunity to pick up ideas to encourage poetry writing. The combination of a great selection of poetry plus useful ideas is excellent.

Journey to the Centre of My Brain Poems by James Carter

This is James Carter's third poetry collection for children. The variety of poems and layout is fascinating and a great way to inspire children to 'think outside the box, when writing their own poems - poems don't have to be written in straight lines! They can even be made up of one word - look at 'What are dinos made of'. In this collection, the reader is taken on a trip to space, meets tigers, mammoths, clouds and bugs and that’s just the start of the journey . . .  Imaginative and original, this is a lovely collection for children.

Beware! Low Flying Rabbits by Roger Stevens

Sharing poetry with children is a wonderful way to extend their imaginations and develop their feeling for language - and it can be great fun at the same time with a collection like this. A range of emotions are covered - there's humour and there's sadness and everything in between. The settings are varied and many have a familiarity and identifiable settings which children will love. There's lots of variety in the type of poem too, making it a lovely collection to read aloud and share with a class.

Mad About Minibeasts by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz

An enticing journey through the world of minibeasts. From slugs and snails to bustling  beetles and beautiful butterflies, these rhymes are full of humour and great for reading aloud. The artwork is nothing short of brilliant and the large size of the book gives maximum scope for the bold and colourful illustrations. This is a duo who work marvellously together and their work complements each other perfectly. Each page would make an exceptional poster for a classroom or nursery wall. A great way to start children off with an early love for poetry.

The Worst Class in the School edited by Brian Moses

Poetry about familiar situations is always a great way to get children interested - and what could be more familiar than school? These badly-behaved children will strike a chord with many children, and they will be amused by their antics. A well-chosen selection, from a range of poets, this is school life as children would like it in this collection of hilarious poems. Read them aloud, share them, and use them to encourage children to develop their creative writing and create their own mini-masterpieces.

Animal Lullabies by Mandy Ross

The scene is set for this lovely book of lullabies by the pictures of sleepy animals and their young on the front cover - I especially like the octopus hugging her babies! All sorts of animals are included in this book and Mandy Ross has written some lovely lullabies expressing how she thinks animals will sing their babies to sleep, depicting key features of each creature. The love that all creatures have for their babies clearly comes across and make this the perfect reassuring bedtime read for human babies. Plenty of opportunities to talk about the animals too. The illustrations by Kristina Kallai Nagy are wonderful - the warmth and love flow out of them. Animal Lullabies on Child's Play website.

Number Rhymes: Tens and Teens by Opal Dunn and Hannah Shaw

Rhymes are such a good way to help children learn.This catchy collection explores all sorts of number activities from 0 to 20 (and even up to 100 in 100 Bees Round a Hive) in a variety of ways that will all help children learn that numbers are fun. Some poems are very well known, but there are many unusual poems here too and all selected to use language appropriate for young children. A lovely book to share at home and also a great classroom resource.  The introduction 'Cracking the Code' gives useful and practical advice.The illustrations are bright, apt and full of detail and are in themselves an excellent aid in learning numbers.

The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes ed by Jackie Norris

This is a book to cherish long beyond nursery days - it would make a perfect gift and should become a family keepsake. The watercolour  illustrations are outstanding - each is a mini work of art -  and they have plenty to appeal to older children too, making this an ideal book for the family to share. There is so much to talk about in each and every picture and the illustrations add a new dimension of meaning to the familiar rhymes. Many of the old favourites are in this collection of 40+ rhymes but there are also some lesser-known rhymes included which help to keep the book fresh. A book which repays close attention and which deserves to become a classic.


The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems ed by Michael Harrison

This is the perfect book to inspire a love of poetry in young people - and adults too, as the range of poems is so wide, with something for everyone. Yes, there are children's favourites such as The Owl and the Pussycat, but most of the poems will appeal to a more mature audience, teen and adult. There is a wide range of classic poems but many modern poets are included. The illustrations are equally varied and are also ageless in their appeal. It is a high quality paperback, with a heavy cover and shiny paper, making it an ideal gift - the type of book I would give to 11 year olds moving on to a new school.

Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems from Around the World ed by Debjani Chatterjee & Brian D'Arcy

A collection celebrating 24 festivals from around the world. An eclectic selection with some very unusual festivals featured - how about a tomato festival - an ice festival or Kwanzaa? As I read the book, I found myself really wanting to know more about these obscure festivals so I was very relieved to find that all 24 are described at the end of the book! The poems are from a wide range of writers and each is illustrated by Shirin Adl in a very distinctive style which reflects the poem. Every page is full of vibrant colour. This book is a great classroom and assembly resource and gives a super look at the diversity of world celebrations in a very refreshing way.


When I Grow Up by Benjamin Zephaniah

Far more than just a poetry book, this is an exploration of people's lives. It aims to open up young peoples' minds to the huge range of job opportunities that are available and to break down any preconceptions about 'suitable' roles. 12 wonderful and exceptional role models feature - their jobs are described and photographed by Prodeepta Das. Then, on the facing page, is one of Benjamin Zephaniah's poems - these are all very different in style and reflect the chosen role perfectly, as does the background. A really innovative book with plenty of scope for discussion - it would be a super theme for a classroom/careers room display. A great reflection of our diverse society.

Come Into This Poem by Tony Mitton 

The cover of this book gives a good indication of the unexpected waiting to happen in this collection of poems - 'The door is open.... Step through this little gap between the words....What kind of ants flap their ears in the breeze? Follow the invitation and revel in the powerful and evocative language in this collection. Wonderful for extending the imagination and inspiring children to think 'outside the box'. Come Into This Poem and Hey, Little Bug are the second pair of books to be published by Janetta Otter-Barry Books at Frances Lincoln.

Hey Little Bug: Poems for Little Creatures by James Carter

This is a lovely introduction to poetry for young children - Foundation Stage and KS1. Not just bugs, although there are plenty of those, but poems about all sorts of topics familiar to young children - travelling, the naughty step, bubbles, puddles and much more. I love the imaginative and unusual approach for example: Dear Firefly do tell me why you shine at night? Do you store light - a scoop of sun inside your tum? What shines through is a real understanding of the target audience and the things that will appeal to them. A great book for the classroom/ school library.

Evidence of Dragons by Pie Corbett

This is the first published collection of Pie Corbett's poems. They are truly beautiful poems - atmospheric and haunting. The use of imagery and language is outstanding - 'I am the last unicorn. My time is starved. I live in a cavern where crystals glisten like a startled serpent's eyes.'  Many of the poems are far more ordinary in theme yet Pie Corbett's wonderful way with words lifts them to great heights. A book to sit and absorb and revel in - to read alone or to share and accessible and enjoyable for all age groups.

Best of Enemies, Best of Friends compiled by Brian Moses

An anthology of poetry about friendship and about bullying, this book will strike a chord with many children as these issues are covered in poems that range from serious to humorous, and even sad. The first part of the book is about bullies and bullying;  the second half of the book is full of poems about friends. I think this would be a super book to have in the classroom as a resource to dip into whenever issues arise. There is something here to cover most eventualities and using poetry can be a gentle yet effective way of getting a message across - from making the most of our friends to coping with bullies. A range of poets are included in the book - many well known, but good to also see some lesser well known poets featured.

Cockadoodle Moo - Rhymes for the Very Young compiled by John Foster

This is a wonderful collection of poems to share with young children. Poetry is wonderful for reading aloud and sharing and this is a perfect first poetry book.Over 80 poems, carefully selected from some of the best poets for young children make this collection exceptional. A wide range of artists feature too, and all the illustrations are vibrant and full of life; the different styles mean each poem is perfectly complemented - children will love these exceptional pictures. The range is sensitively chosen by a keen advocate of promoting poetry for young children. This anthology will be an excellent addition to both home and school libraries as well as being a great classroom resource.

 The Humpback's Wail by Chrissie Gittins

I was delighted when Chrissie approached Parents in Touch to ask us to review a selection of her poetry books as I love to encourage children to read poetry. These poems really will appeal to children, with their quirky take on things familiar and unfamiliar. Often, she needs very few words to convey her thoughts and this simplicity will appeal to children. Her vivid use of language will engage children and stimulate their imaginations, and her topics are carefully selected to appeal. I had to think to read 'Suzannah the Tail Wagger' - a clever use of shape which will hopefully inspire children to try this for themselves. A super collection to share in the classroom. Find out more about Chrissie's poems here -

Now You See Me, Now You . . . by Chrissie Gittins

This book contains a fascinating variety of poems, from the very short - I liked High Chair, which says so much in very few words - to much longer poems to really get your teeth into. Many of the poems have familiar settings, which will appeal to children, such as Getting Up and Back to School. I loved the quirky humour of poems such as Driven to Distraction: 'I picked up a bus on the High Street then put it down on the park.' Some have a much more serious message such as the thoughtful 'The Powder Monkey'. There are some wonderful poems on punctuation, which I think would make a great teaching resource. A well-balanced collection which will be read over and over again.

I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle by Chrissie Gittins

Acute observations of many aspects of life shine through in this collection of poems. We meet some lovely characters such as Mr Fogg the dentist and the grandmother who is a nun. I think my favourite is 'The Pencil Stub' - a wonderful poem about a very simple object, which makes us see it through new eyes. And that is  the cleverness of Chrissie's poems - she really makes you think about everyday things. The variety will capture and keep children's attention - people, places and animals, all embellished with humorous illustrations by Kev Adamson. Some poems are funny, some are very thoughtful and all are very enjoyable,


Nessie the Mannerless Monster by Ted Hughes

Poor Nessie - how would you feel if people kept telling you you didn't exist? So she decides to make people know she does exist, through a hilarious narrative poem. Follow her as she goes to Edingurgh, gets sent away and travels to London for an audience with the Queen. She is chased by the hounds, very rudely eats her dinner host, joins a march, and finally gets to meet the Queen. Gerald Rose's wonderful illustrations portray poor Nessie excellently and you really feel for the poor bewildered creature as she embarks on her quest - but all ends well.

An Imaginary Menagerie by Roger McGough

This collection and The Language of Cat are the first in a new series published by Janetta Otter-Barry Books at Frances Lincoln. Books will be published in pairs - one established poet and one new name. I am delighted by this initiative - poetry is such a wonderful way to get children interested in words and language and it can often be neglected.
Revel in all the creatures and their antics in this collection of animal poems - some familiar animals, but others are a little strange. The poems are illustrated, for the first time, by the poet. Roger McGough's clever plays on words mean these poems will appeal to adults as well as children, (Does God have feathers? Is St Peter's Square?) so go on - have some fun!

The Language of Cat and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney

This is an interesting and thought-provoking selection of poems. The title poem, The Language of Cat, cleverly and succinctly sums up cats, and this perceptive writing continues throughout the varied selection of poems. There are poems to make you laugh, poems to make you sad and poems to make you think. Look out for the word play and riddles in this debut collection. Share poetry with your children - make it part of your bedtime reading with your child, and see their enjoyment. 

How to Turn Your Teacher Purple Poems ed by James Carter

This is a super selection of poems with a science theme - just the thing to brighten up those science lessons! Children will be surprised by how much real science they absorb from this selection of poems - from the moon to cliffs; from light to clouds; and from dinosaurs to the future - all science is here! Poetry is a great way to get children reading and enjoying the use of words and this collection is great for that - plenty of fun and nothing too serious. A wide range of poets is included from Wendy Cope and John Foster to some lesser known. Plenty of fun and laughs and amusing illustrations too.

What I Like by Gervase Phinn

All his years of experience in working with children mean that Gervase Phinn knows exactly what will appeal to his audience. Couple that with his love of English and his awareness of how vital it is for all children to develop a love of language, and you have a set of poems guaranteed to appeal. I love the way he has taken some well known poems and given them a very unusual twist - I can really imagine sharing 'On Old MacDonald's Mixed Up Farm' with a group of children, and this will really get them involved - very clever. All sorts of topics familiar to children are tackled; some poems have plenty of repetition so young readers will learn them quickly; others are longer. Lovely illustrations by Jane Eccles complement the poems wonderfully. A super book to help little ones get into the world of poetry at home or at school.

Calico Pie and Other Poems compiled by Tig Thomas

I love to see children introduced to poetry and this is a very appealing and slightly unusual collection. Some, like Bed in a Boat and Duck's Ditty are well-known old favourites but there are many lesser-known poems here too. I liked 'The Flower Alphabet' which would be a lovely poem to illustrate for a bedroom or classroom wall display. Share this book with your child and take it in turns to enjoy reading aloud from this lovely anthology, in which the style of every poem is different. From the embossing on the cover to the gentle illustrations which perfectly  complement the poems, this book is a real delight - one to return to over and over again.See the Miles Kelly website for more super books.

Chimes for Children by Nicolas Hill

It is lovely to see an innovative book of new poems and these somewhat unusual poems are great fun..There is enough humour in each poem to amuse adults thus ensuring they will be very happy to read this book aloud many times. Each four line poem is accompanied by a clever and witty illustration by the author - even the borders are eye-catching! These repay close examination, for example the street name 'Windy Street'accompanying the poem 'Little Cloud'. Each time I look I spot something new. I hope that the (apparent) simplicity of the poems will encourage children to 'have a go' - although I know it is not as easy as it looks!

Down by the River by Grace Hallworth

This is a wonderful collection of Afro-Caribbean rhymes, games and songs for children. Grace Hallworth draws on the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean to  bring us this wonderful anthology. The book takes you from wake up time right through to the end of the day, with plenty of games for children to play, sing and clap along with on the way. Lots of new ideas for playground games here and an excellent way to introduce a new culture.The vivid illustrations by Caroline Binch really bring the book to life and draw the reader in to the life and customs of the region. The rhythms make this a wonderful book to read aloud and will have you clapping along.

By Sun and Candlelight illustrated by Shirley Hughes

This book is subtitled 'Poetry and Prose for all your days' and it does just what it says on the cover. It is a collection which has extracts relevant to us at all stages of life, from childhood through to old age. It is an upbuilding and life-affirming collection which would make a wonderful gift for a new baby to treasure through life. Shirley Hughes'  detailed monochrome illustrations beautifully capture the spirit of each extract in this carefully through-out collection. Adults will find many old favourites here and children will learn new favourites, as this collection spans the centuries and genres of great literature. A collection to treasure and hopefully lead the reader into following up favourites.

A little book of alliterations by Felix Arthur

I know this charming little book is not actually poetry, but it reads loud just like a poem!  It starts off: 'Awful Aunt Agatha ate all of Arthur's available apples' and continues to live up to the entertainment value of the first page. I think this book will inspire people to have a go themselves and anything that inspires creative writing is great. The illustrations capture the spirit of the book perfectly and are great fun in themselves. They are crammed full of entertaining detail, so don't skip over them but relish them. At the end of the book, you are invited to submit your own alliterations to



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