Wide Eyed

National Poetry Day 2019

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What better way to celebrate National Poetry Day 2019 than with another look at our fabulous Poetry shortlist! We had a wonderful assembly today with lots of staff sharing their favourite poems- the children loved it and were really buzzing about poetry. The children will get their turn in another assembly where they can share their favourite poems if they would like to.

So here’s another look at each of the four poetry books on the 2019 shortlist- and our lovely pooches, Mungo and Lady. Each is perfect for using in school and will inspire lots of poetry fun and creation!

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

Wide Eyed ISBN: 978-1786035820

This is a beautiful picture of nature through the year in poems.. Each of the twelve verses has a short introduction, commenting on the content. January’s poem is based on the legend of two murmurations of starlings which battle in the sky above the City of Cork. Others stem from personal memories- collecting tadpoles, of holidays, childhood games in the snow. Rich in imagery, the love of nature and its wonders shines through the collection which is complemented by Kelly Louise Judd’s lovely illustrations.

Any of these poems could be used as a starting point for work in the classroom, developing children’s responses to nature, encouraging them to explore the world around them and play with words.

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Perfectly Peculiar Pets by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Anja Boretzki

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1472958464

This is a fun, light-hearted alphabet of poems celebrating a collection of unexpected pets. From the aardvark bought in Amarillo to the mighty fine zebra, there is a marvellous menagerie of creatures in this book. The poems offer plenty of wordplay and poetic devices to enjoy, discuss and imitate. Many of these poems lend themselves brilliantly to performing as a class or individually. They have a tongue-twisery feel to them which children truly enjoy; ‘S for slugs’ or ‘M for Millipede’ are great examples of this! Being an unusual collection of creatures allows children to find out about some lesser known animals like the quokka or the toucan, the yak or the kookaburra. They could create their own poems about creatures they consider to be ‘perfectly peculiar pets’- what about the pink lesser fairy armadillo or the numbat?

At the back of the book is a treasure trove of tips for writing poems of your own, explaining ideas clearly. Illustrated throughout, this is a very enjoyable, varied collection of poems.

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A Kid in My Class Rachel Rooney illustrated by Chris Riddell

Otter-Barry Books ISBN: 978-1910959879

This is a wonderful collection of poems about all the different ‘types’ of children that might make up a class- even a few adults and the class hamster are included. The poems seem to be told from the perspective of classmates and vary in styles, length and tone. Some are funny, others poignant, but each offers much to discuss. The author’s note reminds us that ‘We’re likely to be a mixture of several of them- and more besides.’ and children are sure to recognise themselves and others in these poems. Each poem is accompanied by a pencil sketch of the child and a cartoon illustrating the character depicted in the verse.

Perfect for sharing and enjoying, the book also contains poems which could be used as models for the children’s own. ‘Fidget’ is written in kennings and it could be great fun for children to reflect on themselves in this way. ’Talking Hands’ is a beautiful poem describing a conversation between a hearing and non-hearing child. As each teacher knows and understands their class, choices about which poems to use and how to use them can be made. An invaluable collection!

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I Am a Jigsaw: Puzzling Poems to Baffle Your Brain by Roger Stevens,

illustrated by Spike Gerrell

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1472958198

A poetry book of two parts, ‘I Am a Jigsaw’ contains both a wonderful collection of ‘riddles in rhyme’ and advice on how to write puzzle poems. A wealth of different types of poems from a range of poets is included, many of which would be great fun to explore in class. ‘Find Me’ by Liz Brownlee, for example, is a great example of a traditional puzzle poem where the reader has to identify the letters needed to solve the puzzle. This would be an excellent model to use to inspire children to create their own examples. Catherine Benson’s ‘The Seashore’ leads the reader through a series of puzzles, each describing an element of the seaside- seaweed, a crab, a starfish… an excellent example of using descriptive language and choosing words carefully, this could produce some fabulous work in class, either as group or individual efforts. There are many examples to choose from in this invaluable selection!

The book has the additional benefit of part two which offers advice on how to write puzzle poems, acknowledging that for some this form sits ‘on the edge of what is and isn’t poetry’. This guidance is perfect for teacher, parent or child- anyone interested in having a go at penning a puzzle poem!

HAPPY POETRY DAY!

NSTBA INFORMATION CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

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Perfect for supporting work from the Year 5 programme of study on ‘Earth and Space’, ‘Voyage through Space’ takes the reader on an adventure with a little girl and her dog as they explore the solar system. Starting at the sun, they visit each planet in turn. With additional fact boxes across each spread, the text is full of interesting details, presented in achievable sections and written in a chatty style. The journey ends at the Kuiper Belt (including Pluto) which is past the edges of our solar system.

The illustrations are stunning, full of colour and interest, forming an appealing backdrop to the information. The style and presentation of this book will appeal to many children, particularly those who find navigating large sections of text difficult. The ‘glow in the dark’ poster is an attractive addition.

Voyage Through Space Katy Flint, illustrated by Cornelia Li

Wide Eyed ISBN: 978-1786030825

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Explaining Darwin’s theory in an accessible way, this re-telling by Sabina Radeva is perfect for using to support the work in the Year 6 programme of study on evolution and inheritance. Beautifully illustrated, it explains the basic concepts of Darwin’s work in easily digestible sections, putting it into the context of the time in which he lived. The book starts with scientists before Darwin and looks at his family life before moving on to his ideas. The text includes quotes from Darwin himself, reminding the reader that Darwin actually wrote the ideas the book is based on and there is a fascinating ‘misconceptions’ section at the end. An appendix offers additional information and a glossary explains some of the terms used.

Beautiful and informative, Sabina Radeva’s re-telling makes Darwin’s work accessible to children, encouraging them to wonder at the world around them.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species retold and illustrated by Sabina Radeva

Puffin ISBN: 978-0141388502

You can read another review of this book here.

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‘Natural Wonders of the World’ is a beautiful book, exploring 30 of the wonders of our planet, some well known, others less so. A map of the world shows the location of each wonder, linked to the contents so the information can be easily located and there is a comprehensive index at the end. Stunning photographs and illustrations are on every page, celebrating places, animals and birds, plants and natural phenomena with detailed, interesting text exploring the history, legends, people and science behind them.

Each is fascinating, but in the introduction, the reader is also reminded that there are wonders all around us which we should enjoy and comments on how ‘fragile and precious out planet really is.’ The book could be used as a starting point for further researched linked to various areas of science or geography, but could also be the inspiration for a class book about local ‘wonders’, encouraging children to investigate, write about and photograph their locality.

Natural Wonders of the World Molly Oldfield, illustrated by Frederica Bordoni

(photograph credits given at the end of the book)

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526360663

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This striking book looks at the development of transport through the ages. Divided into categories such as trains, ships, cars, etc,. each section starts with a double page spread which gives a timeline of the evolution of that mode of transport, showing key dates. Additional information is then given on the following pages about how they developed and the people behind them.

The wide range of transport included means that there is something for everyone here. The illustrations of the timelines are full of detail and humour, presented in black and white with coloured borders which correspond with the colour of the pages of information. As well as being full of facts, this could inspire children to present their own research in this way.

Amazing Transport: Journey through the History of Transport

Tom Jackson, illustrated by Chris Mould

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1408889770

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A wonderful collection of amazing stories, ‘Great Adventurers’ focus on the expeditions of twenty explorers from throughout history. Each was an inspiration to the author who has ‘chased a life of adventure’ himself and in turn hopes to inspire his readers to do the same.

The book is a fascinating read, including a wide range of people from across the world. Alastair Humphreys explains why each figure has inspired him whilst giving an account of their adventures. Each is told over four pages, including maps. kit, diary entries and recipes and is brilliantly illustrated throughout, including comic strip sections. A brilliant addition to any library!

Alastair Humphreys’ Great Adventurers, illustrated by Kevin Ward

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1783708413

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Very topical at the moment, 'A Planet Full of Plastic’ is an extremely readable, engaging book which both explains the development of plastic and why it has become such a problem. Terms such as ‘biodegrade’ and ‘microplastic’ are clearly explained and the book does not shy away from the severity of the issue. However, it is not all doom and gloom. The book also looks at ways of helping the situation, starting with reduce, reuse, recycle and then looking at the ideas scientists and engineers are coming up with to tackle the problem before offering ideas and information about how the reader can help.

The cartoon/ collage style of illustration, using photographs as backgrounds, is extremely effective and the chatty style of the text makes a direct appeal to the reader, personified by the cartoon child, from the narrator whose identity is discovered at the end of the book. Giving examples of young people who have made such a difference is very inspirational and offers the challenge of thinking of a ‘big idea to help save the planet’. An important book for both home and school, ‘A Planet Full of Plastic’ offers an excellent starting point for making changes to our behaviour, making us all take responsibility for this man made problem. Excellent!

A Planet Full of Plastic and How You Can Help Neal Layton

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526361738

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