Poetry

Everything All At Once

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Steven Camden has been one of my favourite poets since I heard him speak at a Federation of Children’s Book Groups Conference a few years ago. He was speaking about his books, ‘Tape’ and ‘It’s About Love’ and his ‘speech’ took the form of a compelling poem which he performed with a passion and energy I have not forgotten. I have been to see him at literary festivals since- and each time am inspired by his love of language and the ease with which he uses words.

‘Everything All At Once’ is a fabulous collection of poems which capture the insecurity and vulnerability of the teenage experience. Some of his poems are beautifully poignant - ‘Those Who Can’t’, ‘Cracks’, ‘Nothing Else’- some very insightful, capturing the essence of emotional experience- the pain of betrayal, the ache of loneliness, an avalanche of emotions. He observes and captures each moment with an ease that is stunning.

Simply brilliant, Steven Camden is a true wordsmith and this is an essential collection.

Everything All At Once Steven Camden

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1509880034

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

LONG LIST REVIEW: Alphamals

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For each letter of the alphabet, there is a beautiful picture and a poem about an animal. H is for hedgehog, J for jaguar and R for rhinoceros. There are more unusual choices as well- U is for urial (a wild sheep), Q is for quoll (an Australian marsupial) and A for armadillo. 

Each poem is short and informative, demonstrating perfectly how facts can be presented in poetic form. Children looking at interdependence and adaptation in science could easily take inspiration and create their own verse about an animal of their choice, selecting the features they feel are most significant. 

Every image is a joy to behold! On the page with the poem, smaller pictures surround the writing whilst a full page opposite is given to a poster-like illustration of the creature. The hedgehog is gorgeous- curled in a tight ball on one page and snuffling through the leaves on the other. The bumble bee is in shades of gold and brown, patterned body hovering about a sun-like flower. The crocodile is green above the water line, yet shades of blue beneath. There is much to look at and discuss in each one- why does the swan have the outline of a protractor on its folded wing?- and could inspire print making or paper cutting to accompany children's own poems- or for the pure pleasure of creating beautiful pictures.

A beautiful book to be shared and enjoyed.

Alphamals     Graham Carter

Big Picture Press      ISBN: 978-1783706853