Ready my review of this absolutely gorgeous poetry volume on KBR here. It is such a delight to the hand that its still on my desk at work and I pick it up just to savour holding it.
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.
Ford St Publishing
Sharing poetry with kiddos is one of my favourite things to do – and even the ones who kind of screw their noses up at first really get into it with the right selection. This will definitely be one of those and I know that many teachers will want to get their hands on it to add some pep to their poetry units.
Harry Laing has compiled a fabulous collection that is fun-filled with catchy rhythm and rhymes, chants, raps, word play, shape poems and more. The illustrators are a stellar cast of our best and brightest in the business, eighteen in all, making this a feast for the eye as well as the ear.
Whether it’s a yummy food poem about cheese or pizza or a city of chocolate or an introduction to some insect life like ants or termites or even a flea this has something to appeal to all children.
There will be many opportunities for kids to get up and use their hands or feet to clap to the beat and no doubt will quickly decide on their personal favourites.
If you are looking to give your poetry collection some updating or purely for the joy of it, this will make a valuable addition and is highly recommended for children from around 7 years upwards.
Shortlisted 2019 – Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year
Publisher: National Library of Australia
01 April 2019
Why yes, some readers of this blog will already know that not only am I non-fiction nerd since childhood but also a poetry nerd. I openly admit this to the children at school who are sometimes a little (?!) resistant to poetry. Of course, I follow this up by totally blowing them away with the magic, humour and depth of poetry.
As it happens, this new anthology, selected by the amazing Jackie French (all hail!) and illustrated by the gorgeous and multi-skilled Tania McCartney will be EASY to sell to poetry-resistant kids. The contributors included roll out like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Australian children’s literature, both past and present.
From such historic luminaries as Norman Lindsay, Judith Wright and Dorothea MacKellar to contemporary stars such as Meredith Costain, Suzanne Gervay, Meg McKinlay, Andy Griffiths, Shaun Tan – *gasp* and pause for breath, this is one of the most comprehensive and quality poetry collections I’ve ever encountered for children.
Page after glorious page of amazing verse accompanied by Tania’s iconic illustrations, it is pure joy to hold, read and savour. There have been many anthologies of Australian poetry published for children but I would have to think hard about one that presents both old and new offerings to children with such a contemporary and fresh format. I know that poetry is, of course, still embedded in the curriculum but children so often seem to be disengaged with the way it is presented to them. I fully believe that this new collection will give children a point of connection and impart the joy of verse.
Sir Walter Scott said “Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.”
We owe it to our children to not only show them the beauty of narrative literature but the amazing landscape of poetic creativity.
Highly recommended for children and adults from around eight years upwards. This one’s not going anywhere except my own shelves.
Thank you Jackie and Tania – love your work! x
Penguin Random House
September , 2018
Just in case you missed the utter sensation of the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam last year, here is your introduction to amazing Raphael Solli. His performance was viewed on Facebook over 3.5 million times instantly rocketing him to well-deserved fame.
Raphael’s poetry is squarely focused on current issues affecting his generation such as sustainability and social equality, all the while amplifying his uplifting message of hope.
This book features over thirty of his poems and also shares his tips on writing and performing in a way that will engage young readers and inspire them to tackle their own concerns through words and voice. Some introductory chapters explore different types of poetry and clearly defines ‘slam poetry’ a term which may, as yet, be unfamiliar with younger writers.
Whether you are looking at a unit of poetry in teaching or want to encourage your own children to express themselves, this is certainly a very admirable addition to your shelves.
I highly recommend it for readers from around ten years upwards.
It may be winter but living near the sea does have its advantages especially when you are in Queensland so my mood today is for those things that are of the ocean.
Tropical Terry – Jarvis
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
Terry is a very plain little fish who lives with his friends Cilla the crab and Steve the sea snail in a beautiful tropical reef. The three friends have great fun playing their games and Terry is particularly adept at ‘Hide-a-fish’. But Terry is not happy. The glamorous and colourful tropical fish completely ignore him as well as his friends and Terry wishes he could impress them instead of being so nondescript.
Then he devises a wonderful plan. He collects all kinds of marvellous adornments and his friends help him to stick them on and voila! Terry is transformed into one of the flashy fish he so envies. That all works very well. The tropical fish are in great admiration and Terry is soon so busy swanning (finning?) around with them all that he neglects his friends until Eddie the eel comes cruising by looking for dinner. While all the truly tropical fish swim away Terry is just too slow with all his additional bits and pieces. Thankfully his friends remind him of their games and as soon as Terry ditches his disguise and resumes his place as the expert at ‘Hide-a-fish’ Eddie is thwarted and suddenly the glamour crew realise that even a plain little fish does have some great qualities.
A lovely and fun story about being true to yourself that is very suitable for readers from Prep upwards.
Is it a Mermaid? – Candy Gourlay/Francesca Chessa
Imprint: Otter-Barry Books
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
Dugongs are a very relevant local topic here as Moreton Bay is an area in which they can be found (I’ve yet to see one but always hope!) and they are also an at risk species in their various habitats. In olden days sailors mistook them for mermaids and one particular dugong has taken this on board.
Benji and Bel are playing by the sea when they spot a dugong and get very excited. The dugong however insists she is a mermaid and demonstrates all her mermaid-ish attributes – tail, flippers, singing, grace and beauty. None of this convinces Benji who rather hurts her feelings by insisting she’s a SEA COW.
But all is forgiven when Benji apologises and the children have wonderful fun playing all day long with their new friend – the mermaid.
Set in the Philippines the book concludes with some relevant information about dugongs and the ways in which young readers can help protect the dugongs’ natural habitats of sea meadows. Bright illustrations in an almost naïve style help the readers to visualise the waters in which these marvellous animals can be found.
Highly recommended for readers from around Prep upwards and a perfect addition to a unit on endangered animals for younger students.
Julian is a Mermaid – Jessica Love
Release Date: June 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99
It’s not just dugongs who like to pretend they are mermaids. When Julian goes out with his Nana and sees some women dressed so gorgeously as ‘mermaids’ he is so entranced that he can’t wait to try it out himself. Back at home while Nana has a bath Julian sets about transforming himself using rather a lot of Nana’s household objects such as ferns and curtains. He feels wonderful but is a little worried about his grandmother’s reaction both to using her things and making a little mess but also just to his desire to be like the beautiful woman.
Not to worry as good grandmothers understand such things and not only does Nana approve but validates his dressing up with some beautiful beads and off they go to show off Julian’s transformation.
This a gentle and whimsical story about self-confidence and being true to yourself while also introducing the concept of acceptance of non-binary children.
A very timely addition to any collection with some valuable reflections to be shared with young readers in the early years.
A First Book of the Sea – Nicola Davies. Illustrated by Emily Sutton
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99
In a truly lovely collaboration between write and illustrator this anthology celebrates the majesty of the sea in all its aspects. From the creatures that dwell in it to the sailing ships of old readers can spend hours swimming with dolphins or fishing for dinner, investigating the dark depths or reflecting on the impact of pollution of the seas.
Surfing, pearl diving, lighthouses, harbours, journeys, the Beaufort scale, and much, much more wash across the pages amidst striking and beautiful watercolour illustrations.
From the polar seas to the tropics all manner of topics are covered in the poems that are not only lyrical but often informative.
What a beautiful addition to a poetry collection for young readers!
This comes with a high recommendation for young readers of all ages from around four years upwards. Little ones will delight in the words and pictures and older ones will likewise revel in the imagery created.
January 1st 2018 by Carolrhoda Book
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few children’s poetry books come my way of late and this is certainly one of the most interesting.
In a world where we are constantly reminded of the intolerance and bigotry of some it is incumbent upon us as educators to guide our students towards accepting and embracing differences.
When Irene and Charles are put together to complete a poetry project, neither is very thrilled. One white, one black with seemingly nothing in common, they are both reluctant and reticent at first. But as they choose topics to write about – school, family, church, friends and so on – they begin to see points of similarity and more than that commonalities that develop into an unexpected friendship.
Cleverly written by authors who are themselves black and white, this book explores a theme of turning ignorance into understanding and takes it further.
Not only is this a volume worth sharing with students but it could easily become a fascinating springboard into shaping similar experiences for our own children.
Recommended for children from around Year 4 upwards.
Yes, you already know it if you have read this blog before. I am a self-confessed nerd and was as a child as well. I didn’t just love reading as in stories, I revelled in information books and I LOVED poetry. I still have two poetry books my Mum included in birthday presents; I usurped my older brother’s poetry text books the minute he was done with them. I’ve written it, I won a prize in high school for it and I love teaching it.
So when my friend Hélène recently published her book of poetry I was dead keen to read it. As luck would have it there was an afternoon this week when I was far from feeling 100%, it was rainy and I went to bed like a diva to recover and began to read. Is there anything quite as soothing as poetry for an aching soul? Contrary to Hélène I have no aversion to free verse, indeed it is often my preference but I could certainly well appreciate the rhythm and cadence of Hélène’s verse.
She began writing as a child, has always written and has honed her craft as a member of various groups, as well as performing/presenting in various venues. She brings the wealth of her life experience to her work. Child of immigrant parents, challenges, highs and lows, family, children, travel and more are reflected in her writing.
This volume of eclectic pieces is categorised by themes such as Nature, Inspired by Beach and Farewells & Memories. Throughout we can share Hélène’s emotions and relate these to our own experiences, although not all.
I think of all that I enjoyed in this, one particular poem stood alone for me in it’s simple poignancy but depths of ‘story’.
War came to her door in Belgrade;
To clean snow-laden streees;
In German trucks
Leaving her half-eaten chocolate bar
On the table;
Punching out unknown metal objects,
Buttons, buttons, buttons
On German uniform trousers,
Fifty-two buttons on each pair,
For the rest of her life my mother hated buttons.
Well done Hélène and thank you for allowing me the privilege!
October , 2016
Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99
Divided into five sections: Big and Small, Colours and Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies and Animals in Action, over fifty animals are presented in poems and simply glorious illustrations in this beautiful book. The author is both a biologist and a children’s writer so you can be sure that the information presented in this verse style is accurate as well as engaging.
It is big and bold as well as beautiful and young animal lovers will be entranced by the glossy pages and their contents. The animals featured are from all around the world so this would present a wonderful opportunity to map their locations.
Perfect not just for the pleasure of the book but a superb addition for units of work focused on animal life. Just take a look at some of these sample pages.
Highly recommended for primary libraries and small animal lovers.
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