Bookshelf Poetry

The Waggiest Tails- Poems Written by Dogs with help from Brian Moses and Roger Stevens

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Who doesn’t love a dog? Who doesn’t love these two amazing poets? Mix them together and you get a wonderful collection of poems about precious pooches which are full of personality, pathos and humour!

With the final of ‘Strictly’ on tonight, it would be rude not to mention ‘My Dancing Friends’! This poem introduces a whole range of breeds of dogs and the dances at which they shine. Lots of alliterative word play and ticklish rhymes make the poem great fun to read aloud! It could inspire poems about breeds of other animals and their favourite pursuits- cats and their crafts perhaps!

‘Rescue Dog’, on the other hand, is deeply moving. Exploring the former life of a rescue dog, it would be an excellent poem to use for an assembly or PSHE lesson encouraging empathy and understanding. This need for patience and support could equally apply to humans. Brian Moses offers hope for the rescued dog if time, space and warmth are given.

Using kennings, ‘What I Am’ is a wonderful exploration of the perfect canine companion! This format is great for having fun and exploring the essence of something. There is so much to discuss and enjoy here- and children love describing their pets, friends or family members using this style!

Full of wonderful illustrations, this is a fabulous, fun collection of poems with something for everyone!

The Waggiest Tails Brian Moses and Roger Stevens, illustrated by Ed Boxall

Otter-Barry ISBN: 978-1910959893

Poems to Live Your Life By

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Most of us have a favourite poem- or a snatch of one- that we treasure. Many of these seem to live with us from our schooldays, something which reinforces the importance of providing opportunities to explore and enjoy poems as part of any curriculum.

There are a number of poetry collections available at the moment, but this little volume is particularly beautiful in both presentation and content. Quite simply, Chris Riddell has selected some of his favourite poems and has illustrated them in his unique style.

Organised into sections like ‘Love’, ‘Youth’ and ‘War’, there is a carefully balanced mixture of very well-known and lesser- known poems from different periods. Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shalott’, Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 are here in all their wonder and beauty. Here too, is A F Harrold’s poignant poem, ‘I Miss You’, which makes me cry every time I read it. Rachel Rooney’s ‘The Language of Cat’ is another gem not to be missed nor Neil Gaiman’s ‘Witch Work’, each stunningly illustrated.

A collection to treasure and a collection to share, ‘Poems To Live Your Life By’ would make an excellent Christmas - or Jólabókaflóð- present for someone special.

Poems to Live Your Life By Chris Riddell

Macmillian Children’s ISBN: 978-1509814374

Lest We Forget...

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In October 1917, whilst recovering from shell-shock, Wilfred Owen sent a letter to his mother which included a ‘gas poem’. This he revised and edited between January and July 1918 until it became the poem we now know as ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.

Incredibly powerful, deeply moving, Owen’s work describes the harsh realities faced by those fighting in the trenches. My grandfather was amongst them.

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We were very fortunate and my grandfather returned home; many did not. Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War and there have been many tributes to those who have served their countries in many ways.

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Martin Impey and Hilary Robinson have combined their talents to create four amazing, beautiful books about Ben and Ray, friends who went to war together. These are the perfect way to introduce children to the life of soldiers in the trenches, the Christmas truce, the role of animals in war and the contribution of women who nursed soldiers on the battle lines. Their fifth collaboration- ‘A Song for Will and the Lost Gardeners of Heligan’ - is an incredible piece of work, celebrating the lives of those who worked at Heligan in Cornwall.

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In ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Martin Impey has used his incredible artistic talents to interpret Owen’s words. This is not for a younger audience, but a heart-felt, gritty interpretation of the horrors experienced by soldiers.

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The book starts with a foreword contextualising the work before showing the revisions Owen made to ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ as he edited and developed his work to its finished form. Martin Impey has included some of these alterations as haunting shadows behind the finalised text, adding to the poem’s poignancy.

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Each page is a work of art. Martin’s talent and passion match that with which Wilfred Owen wrote each line and make a worthy tribute to those who fought and a stunning memorial for them. It emphasises the horrors of conflict, refuting ‘the Old Lie’.

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A powerful, significant work, perfect for using at KS3.

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, illustrated by Martin Impey

Strauss House Publishing ISBN: 978-1527218253