Jo Riddell

2018 Poetry Shortlist

So here it is...

the NSTBA 2018 Poetry shortlist.


Apes to Zebras: An A-Z of Shape Poems

Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens

Bloomsbury    ISBN: 978-1472929525

You can read the long list review here.


Firecrackers  Zaro Weil, illustrated by Jo Riddell

ZaZaKids in association with Troika      ISBN: 978-1909991781

You can read the long list review here.


The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship

Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens

Macmillan     ISBN: 978-1509854509

You can read the long list review here.


Chicken on the Roof    Matt Goodfellow

Otter-Barry Books    ISBN: 978-1910959909

You can read the long list review here.

Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 10th November.


All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twelve fabulous books on the Poetry Category Long List.

Apes to Zebras ~ Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson & Roger Stevens (Bloomsbury)
Alphamals- Ruth Symons and Graham Carter (Big Picture Press)
Firecrackers    Zaro Weil and Jo Riddell (Troika)
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Tickling with Words-John Townsend (Book House)
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The Same Inside- Liz Brownlee, Roger Stevens & Matt Goodfellow (Macmillan)
Chicken on the Roof- Matt Goodfellow and Hannah Asen (Otter-Barry)
The World's Greatest Space Cadet- James Carter (Featherstone)
Blast off- Carole Bromley and Catherine Benson (Doorstop Books)
Little Lemur Laughing- Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury)
Message from the Moon- Hilda Offen (Troika )
 Peace Lily- Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey (Strauss House)
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Rising Stars New Young Voices in Poetry Various (Otter-Barry)
Which four of these fabulous books will make up the NSTBA18 shortlist?

LONG LIST REVIEW: Firecrackers


Subtitled 'An Explosion of Fantastical Poems, Raps, Haikus, Fairy Tales (and more) to Spark Imagination', the book is a veritable cascade of words, wound in wonderful ways.

Although the collection offers fairy tales, little plays and a song, it is the poems that are our focus here- and what a range Zaro Weil offers! Here are poems crying out to be performed- spoken-shared- as they celebrate the joy of words, the richness of language and the potential for play that lies within them.

There a poems which could be performed by classes or individuals. Take 'Firecrackers Tonight' for example...

Firecrackers tonight

a sky volcano of colour

wave after wave

rousing the stratosphere

from its great darkness...

Perfect for developing the use of cadence, projection, enunciation, gesture and choral/ part speaking as well as simply poetry for pleasure, it could also be used as a starting point to inspire children's own writing. And there are many others that can be used in this way too.

There are light-hearted poems...

This bed is so fat

this pillow so soft

hundreds of dreams

can climb right in

...and ones that provoke discussion and laughter. Poems like 'A trade' and 'The Paper Bag' would make great models for children to use as a model for their own poems. The starting line

Fill up a paper bag with...

of each verse would generate such discussions about those precious things and how to describe them. At a time when vocabulary (or the lack of it!) continues to be a major barrier for so many, the freedom poetry offers to explore and experiment with words is a real gift. For example, in Bumblebees and hummingbirds, the reader can ponder the image of 'mulberry clouds', question how water is 'braiding the earth in a torrent of new-born rivers' and imagine what 'a slippery wisp of some barely green branch' looks like. 

There is also a code which can be scanned so that you can hear 'ear-rattling raps, poems and songs'- I haven't tried this yet so can't comment on it, but hearing others perform poetry is a real joy so it can only add to the value of the book.

Illustrated throughout by Jo Riddell with black and white drawings that enhance the text beautifully, this is a real treasure of a book which will soon be a must on all classroom shelves. A 'firecracker' by name and by content!

Firecrackers  Zaro Weil, illustrated by Jo Riddell

ZaZaKids in association with Trioka      ISBN: 978-1909991781