Joseph Coelho

A Year of Nature Poems

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‘A Year of Nature Poems’ is a beautifully illustrated collection of seasonal poems, one for each month of the year. First observations of this collection of poems are that it has a traditional feel; on closer reflection, it is nostalgic celebration of the phases of life and the changing of the seasons.

Each of the twelve poem begins with an observation of the month, setting the scene. Some poems feature fascinating facts about nature, for example the murmurations of starlings, the lifespan of Mayflies or the varieties of daffodils. Other poems focus on environmental decline and climate change. The common theme in all of the poems is the conclusion that true beauty can be found in nature.

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Each poem reflects the changing landscape of the seasons: the skies; ponds and rivers; meadows; forests and woodlands and even a dive under the seas. Important messages about the wonder of nature are paired with personal connections with the environment, inviting the reader to reflect themselves. Figurative language and other poetic devices require the reader to draw on inference skills to make an emotional connection.

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Amongst the seasonal celebrations, Joesph Coelho also shares personal memories from his own childhood: the calming power of spring showers, enjoying his mother’s memories, holidays with grandma, heartache and love.

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Joseph Coelho is an award winning children’s author and poet best know for his poetry books, ‘Werewolf Club Rules’ and ‘Overheard in a Tower Block’. Kelly Louise Judd is an American artist who is inspired by flora and fauna. Her beautiful illustrations frame each poem, aiding the reader to imagine each changing season.

In the classroom, this book could be used as a reference for writers to create their own season poems; play with the language of the original poems or pair their own personal memories with the weather or changing seasons. It is a wonderful collection- a true celebration of the world we live in.

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

Wide Eyed ISBN: 9781786035820

Hay 2019: Joseph Coelho

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Full of enthusiasm and fun, Joseph Coelho’s sessions are always an excellent way of spending time! Driving to the festival, I spotted Poetry Joe, standing on the bridge into Hay, enjoying the view of the river and all its beauty, so when he told us all how he loved nature, it came as no surprise!

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Having grown up in a block of flats in Roehampton, he told us that he was lucky because he was surrounded by nature, places where he and his friends could explore and play. Recognising how well-being, space and nature are linked, he now lives by the sea and continues to enjoy the outdoors. He drew on his memories and experiences when writing his book, ‘A Year of Nature Poems’, combining this with research.

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January’s poem was inspired by a legend of two warring murmurations of starlings. Having read the poem, Joseph then encouraged the audience to explore collective nouns and create their own. Stimulating creativity and valuing each response, those present were soon creating wonderful images as they were asked to combined their ideas and create sentences. The results were so imaginative and surprising!

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February’s frog poem stemmed from Joseph’s memories of gathering frog spawn and watching the tadpoles form in an old fish tank at home before returning the frogs to the wild. He emphasised the importance of leaving frog spawn alone now and not interfering with nature, but celebrated the joy of watching nature transform. Using their own frog-related memories, children from the audience created a collective poem, coming on stage to share their ideas.

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Jellyfish in July, scrumping in August and snow in December each inspired poems, language and playing with words. Everyone left filled with Poetry Joe’s enthusiasm for nature and poetry, each determined to capture the ideas they had created and play with poetry. A magical session from a magical poet!

A review of ‘A Year of Nature Poems’ will follow soon.

Luna Loves Library Day

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On Wednesday 14th February, I went to Oxford to visit the Story Museum to see Joseph Coelho talk about 'Luna Loves Library Day'. The session started with some lively poems which Joseph had everyone joining in with. The atmosphere was really good with lots of laughter!

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Joseph then shared 'Luna Loves Library Day', a lovely book which celebrates the joys of the library. As Luna and her dad explore various books, they seem to come to life and fill the library with their magic. Each book goes into her library bag- creating a bag ' full of memories about adventure, magic...and Dad.' Luna's parents are no longer together and library day is a special time she shares with her Dad. In the middle of the book, there is a copy of the fairy tale they share , 'The Troll King and the Mermaid Queen' which is the story of a 'wave surfing Princess' whose parents do not get on and so the Troll King leaves. However, 'one thing always remained the same: "My love for my princess daughter swells my heart with the force of the tides..." - the message of this story reassuring to Luna- and any children in a similar situation.

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The illustrations are a joy, showing children loving the library and exploring books of all shapes and sizes. The end papers at the beginning of the book (above) show children waiting for the library to open whilst those at the end show them relaxing and reading. They also show the love Luna and her father share. 

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Joseph read the story, 'finding' copies of the books around the room as he did so and the audience was delighted by the surprises this produced!

Finishing with some great performance poems, the session was a brilliant success, greatly enjoyed by everyone- including Fed Ted who joined me for the day!

Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers

Anderson Press     ISBN: 978-1783445486