Chris Riddell

Poems to Fall in Love With

DSC_0005 (2).JPG

As part of our ‘Ode-tober’ celebrations, we have been sharing a whole host of poems with our children. This new anthology of love poems contains a wonderful selection of special verses which explore the many facets of that emotion. Classic poems sit alongside modern verse to create an inspiring mix and this book makes a perfect companion to Chris’s previous collection, ‘Poems To Live Your Life By’ (review here).

DSC_0007.JPG

I was delighted to find Byron’s ‘She Walks in Beauty’ in this volume- one of my all time favourite poems which I have loved since the first time I read it. Other classic poems feature in the collection, including works by Shakespeare (Sonnet 116 on pages 116-117!), Christina Rossetti and John Donne. Each is accompanied by Chris Riddell’s evocative illustrations.

DSC_0008.JPG

The collection also includes more modern works. I love ‘Dark Sonnet’ by Neil Gaiman, a poem which I shall return to again and again now that I have found it. A F Harrold’s ‘Postcards from a Hedgehog’ is another glorious piece of writing, approaching love with humour and delightful illustrations! ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott is so powerful and ‘The Taste of a Biscuit’ (again by A F Harrold) reduces me to tears every time I read it. The emotions bound in this small volume are intense! There is even a poem by Chris Riddell included which fits perfectly. It is a beautiful collection, selected with great care and illustrated with love.

It is not your absence that fills the pockets of my heart with stones.

Poems to Fall in Love With Chris Riddell

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1529023237

National Poetry Day 2019

ED-JBApX4AEIYO4.jpg

What better way to celebrate National Poetry Day 2019 than with another look at our fabulous Poetry shortlist! We had a wonderful assembly today with lots of staff sharing their favourite poems- the children loved it and were really buzzing about poetry. The children will get their turn in another assembly where they can share their favourite poems if they would like to.

So here’s another look at each of the four poetry books on the 2019 shortlist- and our lovely pooches, Mungo and Lady. Each is perfect for using in school and will inspire lots of poetry fun and creation!

ED3G0bUXoAEgeYo.jpg

A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd

Wide Eyed ISBN: 978-1786035820

This is a beautiful picture of nature through the year in poems.. Each of the twelve verses has a short introduction, commenting on the content. January’s poem is based on the legend of two murmurations of starlings which battle in the sky above the City of Cork. Others stem from personal memories- collecting tadpoles, of holidays, childhood games in the snow. Rich in imagery, the love of nature and its wonders shines through the collection which is complemented by Kelly Louise Judd’s lovely illustrations.

Any of these poems could be used as a starting point for work in the classroom, developing children’s responses to nature, encouraging them to explore the world around them and play with words.

ED3G1sKXoAUY9kJ.jpg

Perfectly Peculiar Pets by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Anja Boretzki

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1472958464

This is a fun, light-hearted alphabet of poems celebrating a collection of unexpected pets. From the aardvark bought in Amarillo to the mighty fine zebra, there is a marvellous menagerie of creatures in this book. The poems offer plenty of wordplay and poetic devices to enjoy, discuss and imitate. Many of these poems lend themselves brilliantly to performing as a class or individually. They have a tongue-twisery feel to them which children truly enjoy; ‘S for slugs’ or ‘M for Millipede’ are great examples of this! Being an unusual collection of creatures allows children to find out about some lesser known animals like the quokka or the toucan, the yak or the kookaburra. They could create their own poems about creatures they consider to be ‘perfectly peculiar pets’- what about the pink lesser fairy armadillo or the numbat?

At the back of the book is a treasure trove of tips for writing poems of your own, explaining ideas clearly. Illustrated throughout, this is a very enjoyable, varied collection of poems.

ED3G2yBWsAUqeBl.jpg

A Kid in My Class Rachel Rooney illustrated by Chris Riddell

Otter-Barry Books ISBN: 978-1910959879

This is a wonderful collection of poems about all the different ‘types’ of children that might make up a class- even a few adults and the class hamster are included. The poems seem to be told from the perspective of classmates and vary in styles, length and tone. Some are funny, others poignant, but each offers much to discuss. The author’s note reminds us that ‘We’re likely to be a mixture of several of them- and more besides.’ and children are sure to recognise themselves and others in these poems. Each poem is accompanied by a pencil sketch of the child and a cartoon illustrating the character depicted in the verse.

Perfect for sharing and enjoying, the book also contains poems which could be used as models for the children’s own. ‘Fidget’ is written in kennings and it could be great fun for children to reflect on themselves in this way. ’Talking Hands’ is a beautiful poem describing a conversation between a hearing and non-hearing child. As each teacher knows and understands their class, choices about which poems to use and how to use them can be made. An invaluable collection!

ED3G4BXXsAULikd.jpg

I Am a Jigsaw: Puzzling Poems to Baffle Your Brain by Roger Stevens,

illustrated by Spike Gerrell

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1472958198

A poetry book of two parts, ‘I Am a Jigsaw’ contains both a wonderful collection of ‘riddles in rhyme’ and advice on how to write puzzle poems. A wealth of different types of poems from a range of poets is included, many of which would be great fun to explore in class. ‘Find Me’ by Liz Brownlee, for example, is a great example of a traditional puzzle poem where the reader has to identify the letters needed to solve the puzzle. This would be an excellent model to use to inspire children to create their own examples. Catherine Benson’s ‘The Seashore’ leads the reader through a series of puzzles, each describing an element of the seaside- seaweed, a crab, a starfish… an excellent example of using descriptive language and choosing words carefully, this could produce some fabulous work in class, either as group or individual efforts. There are many examples to choose from in this invaluable selection!

The book has the additional benefit of part two which offers advice on how to write puzzle poems, acknowledging that for some this form sits ‘on the edge of what is and isn’t poetry’. This guidance is perfect for teacher, parent or child- anyone interested in having a go at penning a puzzle poem!

HAPPY POETRY DAY!

NSTBA READ ALOUD CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

Owl Logo 2019.jpg
DSC_4224.jpg

Coming from a magical family who can do extraordinary things, Willow Moss's talent of finding things does not seem very special. Her sisters, with their 'proper magic', take after her mother; Willow, with her long stick-straight brown hair and brown eyes, takes after her father. So whilst her mother and her sisters visit the Travelling Fortune Fair, Willow is left behind to find things for those in need of her services. However, she finds her queue of customers vanished and the most feared witch in Starfell, Moreg Vaine, in their place. Last Tuesday has gone missing and Moreg needs a 'finder' like Willow to help her. And so an unwilling Willow finds herself embarking on a quest to locate the missing day, finding friendship, adventure and a lot of self belief on the way!

This is a wonderful story in so many ways. Full of fabulous characters, the story romps along at an enchanting pace to a very satisfying conclusion. The world of Starfell is full of detail and colour. Wisperia, the largest, most magical forest, 'an unpredictable place with magic fizzing about', the Midnight Market full of 'dangerous and deadly looking goods for sale', Troll Country where few apart from trolls venture- each location is beautifully imagined and described. Great fun to read aloud, there are plenty of opportunities for leaving your audience dying to hear more! The perfect read for those who enjoy adventure with a touch a magic.

Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day Dominique Valente, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0008308391

You can read another review of this book here.

IMG_0030 (2).JPG

Summers staying with their grandparents mean freedom and adventure for cousins, Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh. However, when a day out for a picnic at a nearby stately home leads to a mystery involving a speeding sports car, several shady characters and stories of stolen diamonds, the cousins are in their element and pit their wits against all that comes their way.

Reminiscent of the Famous Five, ‘Clifftoppers’ is a fresh take on these classic stories with a real zest for life and sense of mischief mixed in. Complete with Bella, their dog, there is someone to appeal to everyone in this story and the pacey adventure will keep children begging for more. Full of rich language and vivid descriptions, it makes an excellent read aloud with plenty of action to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. With more stories in the series to come, this also offers other adventures for children to move on to once the class book has been shared. Brilliant!

Clifftoppers: The Arrowhead Moor Mystery Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow ISBN:978-1788004695

DSC_0016 (2).JPG

Storm of Odin is the youngest hound of the Wild Hunt and longs to be chasing through the sky with the other hounds. However, he falls from the sky during his first hunt and lands near Abergavenny. Here he is found by Jessica Price, who longs for a pet. She is alarmed to find that lots of people are very interested in her new puppy and that mysterious, magical things are going on.

Mixing mythology and action with a lovable puppy, ‘Storm Hound’ is a wonderful read. Storm’s voice is a joy to read as he comes to terms with each new misunderstanding about the world he has found himself in. There is plenty of humour in the story, but Jessica is also well written, a very emotionally vulnerable child, reeling from her parent’s split and trying to come to terms with her new life. A rompingly good read!

Storm Hound Claire Fayers

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1509895045

DSC_0012 (2).JPG

In this fabulous quest, three children with magical talents come together to defeat those who threaten the cloud horses. But magic is forbidden and so brings danger to those who can use it.

Lavishly illustrated, this adventure is full of creative characters and exciting action. The story draws on myths and fairy tales, using elements that will be familiar, yet new! Moving at a pleasing pace, the story is perfect for reading aloud, whilst sharing the illustrations which have all Chris Riddell’s usual charm. Just wonderful!

The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic Chris Riddell

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1447277972

IMG_9902 (2).JPG

The Pringle family have fallen on hard times and so determine to try their luck in the north- well, as far north as Uncaster. Travelling by the recently invented train- which gives them their new name- the family discover that they have no lodgings; fortunately, recently widowed Mrs Poskett , has fallen on hard times and needs to take in lodgers. However, they are not the only performers in Uncaster- Baby Bubbles, a child magician, is also performing and his mother dies not appreciate the competition.

Full of fabulous characters, this is a book which was written to be performed. Each character is bursting with personality, offering great potential for getting into role whilst reading. For those who are less confident with their acting abilities, the plot romps along at a pleasing pace with plenty to interest and amuse. The story also speaks of kindness and cooperation and having baddies who get their comeuppance is very satisfying. A fabulous read aloud!

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company Vivian French

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406376319

You can read another review of this book here.

DSC_0014 (2).JPG

Surrounded by a thick forest, sits David and Penny’s new home – their mother’s childhood home. Along with their father, they have moved to the mysterious house following heir death of their mother. But they are not alone.

The house and the woods themselves are home to other mysterious creatures, like nothing David and Penny have ever seen before. Tiny, hairy Pog, - a magical creature who lives in the attic – is one of the First Folk and protects the boundary between worlds. As the children befriend Pog and he shares with them the secrets hidden below the house, they soon realise that creatures are slipping through from the other world… dangerous creatures… creatures that feed on pain and steal memories. It is up to Pog and the children to stop them! However, David has a secret. Lured deep into the woods, he has made a pact with another creature, a creature of darkness who insists it can bring his mother back.

Full of twists and turns, cliff hangers and wonderfully creepy creatures, this is an action-packed, spine-tingling fantasy adventure. Padraig Kenny has created a captivating magical world.full of strong characters which will have children desperate to hear more. It is also a story about grief and bravery. The children and their father have to learn to exist in a world without their mother; in places it is raw and full of feeling, but at heart, it is a story of family and friendship.

The rich vocabulary makes it a pleasure to read aloud. With its engaging characters and compelling plot, this is a story to share.

Pog Pádraig Kenny

Chicken House ISBN: 978-1911490395