LONGLIST REVIEW: You Belong Here

‘You Belong Here’ is a warmhearted poem about what it means to belong and the places we call home. The poem’s gentle, emotive language invokes a calm sense of being valued and cherished. This feeling extends beyond the reader to an understanding that the animals also belong in their own natural environments. The book begins by looking to the stars, the moon and the natural elements- the sea and the animals that live there. Moving to the land, the book reminds us that the trees, grasses and animals all have their own place to call home.

Written by American poet, M.H.Clark and illustrated by award winning artist, Isabelle Arsenault, at first glance this book would make a perfect bedtime lullaby, but on reflection it could also be enjoyed in the classroom. Readers could reflect on the different environments and the varieties of living creatures that call them home. M.H.Clark’s text is reassuringly comforting and Isabelle Arsenault’s ghostly images whilst haunting, painted in light natural hues, are also friendly. Each element of the poem becomes part of a jigsaw, both literally and figuratively, each piece interconnected with the next.

Possible teaching ideas from this poem include:

Use places the readers have been to as inspiration for their own poems.

Using the following lines from the poem as inspiration…

and no matter what places you travel to, what wonders you choose to see,

I will always belong right here with you, and you’ll always belong with me.

Research the natural features of chosen locations- hills, rivers, seas etc and the wildlife found there, in order to include them in a personalised poem.

Use this pattern to write your own seasonal poem in the style of M.H.Clark

The (noun) belongs to the (adjective) (noun)

and the (noun) belongs to the (noun) (8 syllables)

Just as (season) belongs to it’s place after (season),

before the … (8 syllables)

Divide the poem between members of the class or a group. Perform sections of the poem to each other using gestures, movement, changes in intonation, tone of voice and volume.

Use the poem as a spring board for investigating animals and their ecosystems and create a jigsaw to illustrate the interconnecting parts of the environment.

You Belong Here by M.H.Clark, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

 Compendium   ISBN: 9781938298998