Australian RRP: $22.99
New Zealand RRP: $24.99
First of all I have to say that I have the greatest admiration for Laureate Michael Rosen, both as a writer, a champion of children’s reading and school libraries and as a human. His writing over the years has always resonated with readers both young and old whether prose or poetry.
This is an account both intensely personal and powerful of Rosen’s determination to uncover the history of his missing relatives – who were ‘there before the war ….and gone after’. With very little to go on Rosen made it his mission over years, countries and continents and what scant records were available to piece together the fate of his missing uncles and aunts during the terrible purge of the Jews by the Nazis.
From the outset the tone of this volume is conversational in order to make it accessible and clear to his young readers and while never shying away from facts of genocide, death camps and similar topics he does not go into depth or details which may make it too confronting for the reader.
Written in both prose and poetry (in the main, excerpts from longer works) which was written specifically addressing his family as his thoughts turned to them, it is also interspersed with such rare primary documents and photos as were uncovered during his long research. The book concludes with extensive book lists of both fiction and non-fiction about the Holocaust and refugees (including our own Once by Morris Gleitzman and The Arrival by Shaun Tan) as well as a useful list of museums and libraries for further investigation and an index. I would add to the list of graphics both the new White Bird by R. J. Palacio as well as Peter in Peril: Courage and Hope in World War II (2016) – Helen Bate.
In my experience, there is a large sector of child readers who will devour books around the Holocaust and not, in my opinion, because of any ghoulishness but rather a deep desire to understand the terrible tragedy, which in turn further develops their empathy and their acute awareness of injustice, and in the cases of some books the demonstration of resilience and the enduring hope displayed by so many.
I commend Rosen on his sharing of his own family’s sad story and his continuing endeavours to provide for children meaningful and thought-provoking readings. Books such as this one in particular will go a long way to raising our readers as compassionate and caring adults in an increasingly intolerant world.
Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.
Walker Books, April 2019, 80 pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781403687858
Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell, Lauren Child.
Naturally we are not the only ones to celebrate our creators of extraordinary children’s books and this compilation is a real treat. The above authors, who have all been such familiar names for us all as we share amazing stories for children, have all been UK laureates. Their contributions to the world of children’s books are completely inspiring and now they share their thoughts, ideas and processes with children, in the hope of encouraging the next generation of outstanding authors and illustrators.
Each noteworthy person offers a personal insight into the creative process with sketches, tips, suggestions and techniques.
This is a beautiful volume filled with colour and life and wonderful insights. If you are looking to provide your young readers with some encouragement to pursue their own creative pursuits this will be a super addition to your ‘arsenal’.
Of course, there is also the opportunity to further explore the works of each contributor – so many of whom are considered ‘legend’.
I fear my own bookshelves are going to need some expansion as I think this is another one that I cannot let go. I’m perfectly sure you will feel the same when you pick it up.
Highly recommended for any lover of children’s literature.
February 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $14.99
New Zealand RRP: $16.99
Many years of working as a successfully and highly regarded poet has given Michael Rosen some great insights into the ins and outs of poetry in its many forms. This is basically a handbook for either teachers or students who are keen to pursue a deeper understanding of poetry; how it works, how it makes us feel and how to write it.
To begin with Michael looks at a selection of classic poems with careful analysis of form, language and technique. I have to say I felt he needed to do some deeper research into Waltzing Matilda and its origins as a couple of comments were, in my opinion, inaccurate.
The second part of the book sees Michael examining his own writing, elaborating on his intentions and writing process.
Along the way Michael gives young writers some great tips on both writing and performing poetry. Additionally he includes useful websites and an appendix of poets.
This is certainly a valuable addition to your store of poetry books and though aligned to English National Curriculum standards will work very well in a classroom setting here.
Recommended particularly for classroom use for Year 4 upwards