LONGLIST REVIEW: Moon Juice

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Meet Skig, who’s meant to be a warrior (but is more of a worrier).

Meet a giddy comet, skidding across the sky with her tail on fire.

Put a marvelous new machine in your pocket

And maybe you’ll be able to fix all your life’s problems.

‘Moon Juice’ is Kate Wakeling’s first collection of poems for children and it proves to be a celebration of imagination and language. Filled with variety, the collection is brimming with humour, curious characters, powerful vocabulary and a wealth of poetic forms, providing plenty to enjoy, share and be inspired by.

‘New Moon’ is a beautifully written poem that plays with metaphor and alliteration and assonance. Children will be encouraged to listen to the musicality of the words as it is read and how the sounds are carefully selected to ebb and flo together. Words are used sparingly, with just one or two on most, making it the perfect starting point for many reluctant poets. Here the emphasis is certainly quality and not quantity.

‘This Be the Scale’ sets the imagination working. Each verse of the poem is a volume, from the very loudest to nothingness. However, the volume is described using something completely extraordinary, otherworldly and simply wonderful, yet the reader can picture it – or rather ‘hear it’ perfectly: ‘1. Sound of Jupiter’s stomach rumbling’; ‘4. Low hum of double-decker buses, night time worry an unlit cellars’; 11. Top-notch ping of new moons and the first hint of sunshine on a birthday morning.’ Another poem along similar lines is ‘Little Known Facts.’ The poem takes the absurd, sublimely ridiculous and delightfully silly and presents it as truth. These little-known facts focus on children – what children can do using just a pigeon and two straws, what grows behind children’s ears, what happens when a child jumps up and down – but children could create their own only any topic: school, adults, weather, planets… The possibilities are endless. With both of these poems children are encouraged to think outside the box.

‘I Found a Dinosaur Under The Shed’ tells the story of a child and their dinosaur, from when the child first discovers the little creature under the shed to when they bid farewell. The poem chronicles the dinosaur’s growth and how the child cares for it. The details within the poem are incredibly emotive and the ending is tinged with sadness. Children could be encouraged to take this story from the poem and create a narrative. They would have to think carefully about their descriptions and how they share the emotions of the characters to maintain the feel from the poem. To challenge the children further they could rewrite the poem from the dinosaur’s point of view. How would its feelings and perspectives differ from the child’s?

A wonderful surprise at the back of the book, is a little section with ideas on how to write your own poems using some of Kate’s as a basis. This is a fun section to be explored in the classroom and at home. There are also lovely interviews with both the poet, Kate, and illustrator, Elina.

Moon Juice by Kate Wakeling, illustrated by Elina Braslina

The Emma Press     978-1910139493