Troika Books

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.

LONG LIST REVIEW: Message from the Moon and other poems


Divided into sections on different themes, 'Message from the Moon' is a lively collection of poems on various subjects. Ranging from the humorous to the profound, this book offers something for everyone.

The opening section, entitled 'Oh Really?', focuses on the fantastical. Here, imagination runs riot with Killer Caterpillars, dragons and a robber rabbit. The pair of poems called 'Alien 1' and 'Alien 2' are great fun and could easily be used to encourage children to write their own poems in pairs, exploring two sides of an argument. Historical settings- the monks at Lindisfarne and the Viking raiders, for example- or fictional ones- Birt and Etho or Shu (On Sudden Hill)- could be used, but more sensitive ideas about viewpoint and perspective could also be explored as a way of opening discussions about bullying etc. 

'Feathers and Fur', the next section, not surprisingly is about various animals and birds! 'Wild Geese' is perfect for enjoying and discussing whilst 'Fox' might encourage children to create their own poems to describe a creature which fascinates them, using kennings in their work. 

'Dream Time' contains the title poem of the book, 'Message from the Moon'. This would make a lovely performance piece for children to explore and develop in their chosen way. It contains some lovely images and language. 

The fourth section, 'Dawn to Dusk' starts with a poem about day break and ends with one about night time. In between these two are poems on a variety of other subjects! 'The Sea' would be a wonderful poem to perform and contains some lovely images which children would enjoy exploring. Hilda Offen's retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, 'The Peppermint Path', is another that lends itself to performance. 

The book concludes with a section entitled 'Outside-In'. Here, the poems return to the light-hearted with haircuts, snails and telling fibs to your friends! Illustrated throughout by the poet, the lively line drawings are full of fun and add to the overall enjoyment of the poems. The book has much to recommend it for use in the classroom, but also for the individual to dip in and out of.

Message from the Moon and Other Poems   Hilda Offen

Troika Books        ISBN: 978-1909991439



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