Book reviews - poetry (page 2)

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.

The Waggiest Tails: Poems written by dogs with help from Brian Moses and Roger Stevens

I love sharing peotry with children and they are going to love this collection. I know I do! You don't have to be a dog lover either, although the poems will obviously have a special appeal to all who love dogs, and who will relish in the way their foibles are so funnily exposed. All the poems are written from the dog perspective, giving them a real insight/ Meet dogs of every imaginable kind, from huskies, born to run, to those big bad bruisers, the security dogs. Meet Bruno, the smallest dog on the farm, and Charlie, the dancing chihuahua. Find rescue dogs, helping dogs, yappy dogs, happy dogs - and the dog with the waggiest tail! A brilliant collection with so much to enjoy and relish.

Chicken on the Roof Poems by Matt Goodfellow

Mattgoodfellow is a performance poet and his energy and verve shine through in this collection - I would love to hear him performing them! The topics are wide-ranging and all very relevant to children - rock pools, hide and seek, I'm bored. Some short - two liners told with great effect - and others more subscantial; a great mix. A wonderful sense of humour pervades the poems, and adults will revel in that as they share these poems with children. "There's a chicken there's a chicken there's a chicken on the roof The only way she's coming down is chicken parachute!" What a picture that conjures up - and that;'s how to inspire children to read and write poetry.

Miss Winter's Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry by Paul Minton

This is a quirky and unusual collection of poems, the first published by Paul Minton. Children will respond well to the eclectic colloection of topics which include strange things like a dog with too many legs, a boy who turns into a bird and even superheroes armed with the powers of bad breath and dandruff. There are rhymes about flying farm animals, extremely polite pirates and a newspaper especially for ghosts.  Each poem rhymes and concludes with a surprising twist or comic punchline. The lively illustrations will extend children's enjoyment, and stimulate the imagination. Fun, light-hearted poetry perfect to read aloud. It's a hilarious collection with lots of variety in style and length. A small point - I think the font is a little small for comfortable reading.

A Treasury of Songs; Book and CD Pack by Julia Donaldson

Well-loved for her wonderful stories for children, Julia Donaldson is also a gifted songwriter for children. A Treasury of Songs contains over twenty of her songs, including fun-filled action rhymes, Aesop's fables, and songs based on Julia Donaldson's best-loved picture books, from Room on the Broom to The Gruffalo. Fans of her books will love to read the songs as they enjoy the beautiful illustrations by the incomparable Axel Scheffler. To make the book even more enjoyable, it comes with a CD of all the songs performed to perfection by Julia herself. Anyone who has heard them on TV or radio or enjoyed one of Julia's live performances will recognise these, and the book will make a lovely gift for children who have attended a performance - and for all others too, of course. A beautiful book from a superlative pairing.

I'm Just No Good At Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris

It's almost impossible to categorise this book, but what stands out most is its wit and humour - and total difference from anything you will have ever seen before. There are lots of poems though, so that's why it's here... but it's far from being a standard poetry book. It's a wonderful blend of wit, wordplay and nonsense with visual and verbal tricks that give the reader a different perspective on the world, challenging pre-held convictions. Completely unique, there are surprises at every turn of the page, from the ongoing rivalry between the author and illustrator, to the mysteriously mis-numbered pages that can only be deciphered by a certain code-cracking verse, to a poem that is 100% genuinely infinite. Adding to the fun: Lane Smith, winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for There Is a Tribe of Kids, has spectacularly illustrated this extraordinary collection with nearly one hundred pieces of appropriately absurd art. A book that will really make you think, amaze you and provide hours of amusement.

Fish Dream of Trees by Frantz Wittkamp (adapted by Roger McGough)

This is a collection of very short but very telling poems. It's a real gift to be able to condense so much into just four lines. These playful and easily accessible poems by Frantz Wittkamp have been adapted from German to English by Roger McGough with his trademark humour and wit. There are lions and tigers and mice galore, not to mention a whole host of other bizarre and loveable creatures in this fully colour illustrated collection of short poems; the wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler's bring the poems to life perfectly. Each four-line poem conjures a new scene or concept and their short length combined with the colourful detailed artwork makes this book ideal for introducing poetry to the very young. Three people's work has been superbly unified. It's a beautiful hardback book with gold foiling on the cover to make it extra special.

Rising Stars: New Young Voices in Poetry from Otter-Barry Books

The publisher has linked with Pop Up Projects to bring new young poets together in an exciting collaboration sponsored by Arts Council England's Grant for the Arts programme. This anthology includes the work of young poets (25 and under) from diverse e backgrounds, all aged 25 and under. The poets are Ruth Awolola, Victoria Adukweibulley, Abigail Cook, Jay Hulme and Amina Jama. The poems are varied, and each poet showcases eight poems for 10-14 year olds. All the poets will take part in workshop projects with Pop Up's partner schools, culminating in a reading and writing festival. Continuing on the theme of developing young talent, the black and white illustrations are by final year students from Birmingham City University's illustration course. A super initiative and great to see these poets and illustrators brought to our attention.

80: Poems by Roger McGough

" The poems gathered round To wish him all the best He choose the nearest 80 and said 'thank ypu' to all the rest." 80 of Roger McGough's favourite poems have been brought together in this new collection, created to celebrate the poet's 80th birthday. The poems are varied in nature, some sad, some happy, some very brief, some quite long. These will amaze and delight children of all ages. They are illustrated by the poet's own line drawings. A lovely collection to celebrate a favourite poet.

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

This book whisked me straight back to my childhood. I loved these poems and read them over and over again. They capture a child's world to perfection and on re-reading the poems, although naturally some topics are dated, the wonder of childhood still shines through as fresh as ever. It's hard to believe that the book was published over 130 years ago, although poems such as The Lamplighter do give it away. It's the wonderful rhythm that flows through the poems that brings them alive - shown to perfection in one of my favourites 'From a Railway Carriage'.This beautiful hardback edition has been illustrated by Michael Foreman, with delicate colour and black and white illustrations which reflect the mood of the poems perfectly; the foreword is by Alexander McCall Smith. Every child should have a copy of this book!

Best-Loved Poems: A Treasury of Verse by Ana Sampson

This well-selected anthology includes classic poems from the likes of Tennyson, Marvell, Byron and Rossetti, alongside the more contemporary voices of Ayres, Larkin and Zephaniah. The collection is divided into themes to suit every mood; this will be popular with teachers looking for themed poems. Themes include Come Love With Me: Fantasies and Infatuations; The Great Hour of Destiny: Songs of War; The Family Face: Poems a About Family and Childhood. Each section has a fascinating introduction which gives us an insight into the selection. All sorts of poems are included, from magic voyages through antique lands to the wonders of nature and the roar of city life, from love and war to those poems we used to know by heart, this volume is a bold and beautiful array of the finest verse from some of our greatest poets. A really good cross-section of poems which covers a wide time period. There is much to love here.

The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard

John Agard is an award-winning poet whose accolades include the Queen's Medal and the Eleanor Farjeon Award. From nature and science to identity, prepare to be transported on a journey through past and present. This collection explores the wonders of the world, with superb use of language and clever and witty use of words. The illustrations by Satoshi Kitamura weave their way through the poems, making them even more appealing. A superb new collection.!

A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood by Sarah Webb and Steve McCarthy

This is a beautiful book which will capture your attention right from the superbly illustrated front cover. Enjoy Irish favourites, both traditional and modern, such as ‘Brian O’Linn’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’, ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’ and ‘Monday’s Child’. Poetry is always great to read aloud and children will especially enjoy silly rhymes like ‘Beans’, ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘On Top of Spaghetti’. The authors showcased include Oscar Wilde, Oliver St John Gogarty, James Joyce and many others. Each poem is individually illustrated in a style that suits each one, and the overall effect is a lively and vibrant book that will become a popular part of a child's library; once to return to over and over again.

A Poem for Every Day of the Year edited by Allie Esiri

This eclectic collection of 366 poems bring us one to share on every day of the year; how about making a daily poem part of your family bedtime routine?. These poems are funny, thoughtful, inspiring, humbling, informative, quiet, loud, small, epic, peaceful, energetic, upbeat, motivating, and empowering! My only disappointment is that, after seeing the beautiful cover, I expected a more up-market presentation inside the book. However, despite that quibble, this is an excellent anthology which has been carefully thought out to provide plenty of topical material for each month, across a wide range of poets and periods, encompassing old favourites and new discoveries. It will prove a valuable resource for teachers, and a comprehensive anthology for home libraries.

Overheard in a Tower Block: Poems by Joseph Coelho

For those growing up in a big city, the veracity and vividness of these poems will really strike a familiar note; those who live outside big cities will gain a real insight into life in cities. Gazing at the stars from five storeys up, smelling the bins from five storeys below. Overheard arguments, overheard laughter. A disappearing father and a Mermaid-Queen mother; statues that sing for flesh and blood; bullies who kick you under the table; perfect red trainers... these are just some of the topics that make up this varied collection of poems. Award-winning poet Joseph Coelho's astonishing new collection is a powerful and moving poetic narrative about growing up in the city, excellently set off by Kate Milner's black and white drawings which capture the spirit of the poetry.


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.

Tickling With Words: Creatures, Teachers and Cheesy Queasy Features by John Townsend

I love sharing poetry with children and this chunky hardback book with its colourful pages would make a perfect gift to encourage children to enjoy poetry. Packed with ridiculous rhymes and gut-busting gags all set in scenarios familiar to children, from Trick and Treat to school assemblies, these are perfect for reading aloud. The book is a great introduction to poetry as children cannot fail to respond to the humour and light-hearted approach. The poems are perfectly set off by Stef Murphy's colourful illustrations.

Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson

Join a talented poet in her first solo collection, celebrating the diversity of the animal kingdom. Get ready to join in the Poetry Olympics, question a snake, talk to a toad and learn 20 ways to avoid monsters and mythical beasts. Where Zebras Go will lead you leads you on a magical journey across the savannah, into fairytale realms, back into the playground and through the seasons,with a super variety of poems showing off many different styles. This diverse collection of poems makes excellent use of many different ways of presenting poetry, with a wide and varied vocabulary to enjoy. It will also inspire children by its variety of form.

How to be a Tiger by George Szirtes

This super collection of poems really extends the imagination with its highly enjoyable range and variety. Leap with hares, call out to the sun, run with the wind, pull silly faces with monkeys, watch out for the bear in the bathroom and meet a burping princess! A fantastic new collection for younger children from a prize-winning poet. These poems are perfect for curious young minds, ready for adventures, and they are ideal for sharing and reading aloud.

The World's Greatest Space Cadet by James Carter

We often overlook poetry when we are encouraging children to read, but poems can be a great way to develop reading skills - here we have a collection that is ideal to stimulate interest with its super variety of different forms of poetry. Join poet James Carter on a journey through space and time: meet everyone from a Viking warrior to a crazed cat - and travel from planet Earth to the very edges of the universe...This wonderful collection is the perfect way to get children interested in poetry.

A Rocketful of Space Poems by John Foster

A superb collection of poems from acclaimed poets to take young readers zooming around space. Fly into space, drive to the moon, meet an asteroid dog and a flurb blurp, and then play intergalactic Squibble-Ball. There are wizards and witches in space, as well as Peter Pluto’ s fast-food superstore – and the worst monster in the universe. Poets include Judith Nicholls, Paul Cookson and Liz Brownlee. Korky Paul's colourful and highly detailed illustrations are a delight. This would be a great book to support KS2 topic work, bringing a new dimension to learning about space.

A Treasury of Songs by Julia Donaldson

Well-loved for her wonderful stories for children, Julia Donaldson is also a gifted songwriter for children. A Treasury of Songs contains over twenty of her songs, including fun-filled action rhymes, Aesop's fables, and songs based on Julia Donaldson's best-loved picture books, from Room on the Broom to The Gruffalo. Fans of her books will love to read the songs as they enjoy the beautiful illustrations by the incomparable Axel Scheffler. To make the book even more enjoyable, it comes with a CD of all the songs performed to perfection by Julia herself. Anyone who has heard them on TV or radio or enjoyed one of Julia's live performances will recognise these, and the book will make a lovely gift for children who have attended a performance - and for all others too, of course. A beautiful book from a superlative pairing.

What Is Poetry?: The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems by Michael Rosen

The former Children's Laureate gives us his own personal take on poetry - what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. I am really keen on encouraging children to read poetry, and this book is full of ways to inspire a love and understanding of poetry. The book starts out by analysing some well-known and varied poems, including 'How do I love Thee' 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Ozymandias'. The book includes plenty of useful advice on writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He looks at his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them. It's a fascinating insight into the world of a poet, and full of inspiring ideas to increase children's love for poetry.

I Am a Book by Roger Hargreaves

Best known, of course, for the Little Misses and the Mr Men, this lovely volume of (mostly) poetry shows another side of the author, but one that still reflects his wonderful sense of fun. Have you ever imagined what it might feel like to be a book? Or a pencil? An ocean? A pair of scissors? Or, even, a sausage? Well, Roger Hargreaves has - and it's hilarious! So many familiar things are the subject of his humour - a pillow, a greetings card, a snowflake, an egg... you will look at them all in a different light now. It's also a great way to stimulate and encourage children's own poetry.

The Moon Spun Round: W. B. Yeats for Children

You may think that W B Yeats' poetry is not an ideal match for children - but you'd be wrong, as this sumptuously illustrated book shows. The work included has been carefully selected, including, I am glad to say, my favourite, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. The book includes a cross-section of poems, stories, a letter from childhood, and an account of his daughter Anne’s memories of childhood; as such, it is an excellent collection to introduce to secondary age pupils studying the poet, as it shows a wider picture, and therefore offers a fuller understanding, than simply his poems. Including unpublished work, this gorgeous book draws on Yeats's preoccupation with magic, fairy lore, place, family and childhood; the stunning illustrations capture to perfection the mystical and magical tone that pervades the collection. A wonderful book.

Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots by Michael Rosen

Every child should have a selection of poetry books to dip into - and what better than a new collection from former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen? This truly is a celebration of words - silly words, funny words, new words, old words - and a wonderful way to encourage children to use all sorts of words themselves, whether in poetry, in speech or in any form of writing. There are poems to make children think about the world around them - have you ever read a poem about metal covers on the pavement? The thing that makes this collection stand out, is the sheer variety - there are long poems and short ones, poems to make you think and laugh, silly rhymes, witty word plays and thought-provoking story poems. David Tazzyman reflects the variety in his illustrations - they are so varied, you'd think there were lots of different illustrators; and I mean that in a positive way. To cap it all, there's a CD read by the poet himself, so children can hear exactly what the poems are meant to sound like. A superb collection that will make a wonderful gift. There's an Activity Pack to go along with the book - thank you to Bloomsbury Books for this.

Classic Nursery Rhymes, foreword by Chris Riddell

This is a beautifully produced book first produced 100 years ago, and which would make a marvellous addition to any home library. The traditional cloth bound cover is embossed with silver, and the page edges are silver too. All the traditional favourites are here, including Curly Locks, Ride a Cock Horse, I Saw Three Ships and Old King Cole. There are plenty of less familiar rhymes too, such as I Love Sixpence and Dame Get Up and Bake Your Pies. The illustrations are from the original, by Dorothy M Wheeler, Enid Blyton's illustrator. With their gentle colours and delicate pictures, they make a refreshing change from today's sometimes garish illustrations. A book to treasure.

I Don't Like Poetry by Joshua Seigal

How could anyone not like poetry when they have read the lively and engaging poems in this book? "I'm a lovely little poem. I'm snoozing in your book. I'm like a dainty dragonfly - Come and have a look." With poems on every topic from the power of books to the joys of fried chicken, this collection is packed with Joshua Seigal's subversive humour and insight into the world of children. Sometimes, when children say they don't like poetry, what they really mean is, they don't like writing poetry - hopefully, reading this book will change their minds!!

It's Not My Fault! by Roger Stevens

"It wasn't me-or was it He, My evil, evil, evil twin? I didn't mean to be so mean. There goes my evil twin again." Join poets Roger Stevens and Steven Withrow for this magical mixture of poems. Perfect to share with any child who has ever said "It's not my fault.", this is a lively collection of sometimes funny, sometimes serious poetry. The poems are very easy for children to relate to, covering everyday situations; some short, some longer, there's something here for everyone. Just remember though - whatever happens... it's not my fault!