John Foster

National Poetry Day 2017

Here at NSTBA HQ we love poetry! And with poetry frequently mentioned in the English programmes of study, there's no excuse for it not to be enjoyed in school!

We had a poetry celebration in school today with each member of my class learning a poem by heart to perform. They loved it- even those who were initially reluctant enjoyed sharing their poem and hearing those others had prepared. Even the adults joined in!

So what better day to remind everyone of the wonderful poetry books which have made their way onto this year's shortlist- each of which could be used in school-or at home- to develop the love of poetry!


The language chosen is rich and varied - and fun!... The poems are set into wonderful illustrations by Sam Usher which capture the vibrant life of London...

 All Aboard The London Bus. Read our review here.


This is a wonderful collection of twenty-six poems about all things space and space related...   Colourful and quirky (Korky Paul's fabulous illustrations), they bring each poem vividly to life! 

A Rocketful of Space Poems. Read our review here.

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This is a collection packed with a wonderful range of poems about some of the amazing women and girls who have helped to shape our world... The three poets responsible for this collection each bring their own voice and style, creating a diverse range of work...

Reaching the Stars. Read our review here.

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This beautiful selection of poems really does include something for everyone... so many things are celebrated between the covers of this book...

A Poem for Every Night of the Year. Read our review here.

The perfect starting point for celebrating National Poetry Day- or any day!

LONGLIST REVIEW: A Rocketful of Space Poems

This is a wonderful collection of twenty-six poems about all things space and space related. Chosen by John Foster (whose work also appears in the collection), there are poems by David Harmer, Paul Cookson, Judith Nicholls and Liz Brownlee amongst others. With an emphasis on fun, there is sure to be something here for everyone!

There are poems that could be used as a starting point for science lessons. John Foster's Space Riddle introduces Pluto's changed status from planet to dwarf planet (or 'large lump of rock'!). The idea of an acrostic to describe a planet could be used as a model for children to describe the other planets- particularly as this one does not use the simplest and most common form with the first letter of each line forming the word. 

'Greasy Peter Pluto's Fast Food Superstore' (Paul Cookson) is full of word play and imagination! Children could have fun creating their own dishes that might be served at this shop; there are plenty of examples of alliteration to enjoy and experiment with. This would also make a great poem to perform in groups or as a class, offering lots of opportunities for changes in pitch and pace. 

Another poem which would be great for performing would be 'The Worst Monsters in the Universe' by David Harmer. It also offers the potential for children to create their own verses by creating their own monsters. 

Each poem is accompanied by Korky Paul's fabulous illustrations. Colourful and quirky, they bring each poem vividly to life! A brilliant combination!

A Rocketful of Space Poems chosen by John Foster, illustrated by Korky Paul

Frances Lincoln Children's Books    ISBN: 978-1847804860

John Foster: the magic man of poetry!

I first saw John Foster perform some 20 years ago at the school where I was teaching. I'm ashamed to say that at the time I had no idea who he was- but I have never forgotten him or the energy and enthusiasm with which he performed!

Since then, I have often used his poems with children and his collection, 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Chocolate Bar', was one of my son's favourite books! Seeing the pleasure and enthusiasm children have for his poetry is always a delight. So, when I found out he was going to be at The Story Museum, I just had to go and listen to him performing poems.

And what a wonderful session it was! John read and performed his own poems and those of others, with his audience joining in with actions and words. He shared poems about cats, dogs, bears, monkeys, foxes and chickens! 

The children in the audience responded so well to his enthusiasm and the humour of his poems. We were all sad when it was time to finish!

John has a new collection of poems which is coming out in October. Entitled 'Christmas Crackers', it is a self-published collection in aid of Parkinson's UK. He is delighted that many wonderful illustrators have agreed to work with him on this collection- Korky Paul, Chris Mould, Jane Eccles, Gerald Scarfe, Melanie Williamson... It sounds like a wonderful project- and a book which will become part of my collection!