BOOKLISTS

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
Michael Rosen

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406343199

What a treat! This great BIG book of poems comes from the work of not one, but two children's laureates and is a delight from start to finish. There is everything that you could possibly ask for in a collection of poetry for young children: Rosen's beautifully judged poems set alongside and in amongst Riddell's bold (and BIG) illustrations, all complemented by BIG, colourful fonts. There's a counting rhyme: 'Party Time' (p.4) populated by animals (some real, some imaginary) and a robot making their way to a little girl's party: 'Ten ten / Where? When? / Nine nine? Are we on time? /...' As we would hope from any collection for young children, there are plentiful opportunities to develop their phonological awareness. From the opening 'Tippy-tappy' (p.1) to the voice percussion of 'Boing! Boing!' (p.8) and the musicality and fun of 'Music' (p.11): it's all here. I particularly like the way Riddell counterpoints his BIG cuddly, friendly animals with charming illustrations of small, young children. In 'Finger Story' (p.20) a huge orangutan on one page delicately extends his fingers to play finger games with the diminutive little girl opposite him: 'Fingers in bed / Fingers wake up / Fingers stretch / Fingers shake up...' Are all the creatures benign? In 'Lunchtime' (p.24) a huge, green dragon towers over a small boy as they munch on sweetcorn together: 'Time for lunch / Munch munch / Time for a munch / crunch crunch... '. The typeface diminishes as the cobs are consumed. The child has slight look of alarm in his face... the dragon looks predatory... Who knows?! There's a narrative thread in 'Once' (p.32) although it's sheer, delightful nonsense: a family of blue beasts - Gom, Flom and Chom - encounter the terrible Berrible who roars 'like the stormy sea' / "Out the way, Gom, / The Flom and the Chom! / Your mom is dinner for me!" This one definitely has a happy ending. A BIG like for this book! 80 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
A First Poetry Book (Macmillan Poetry)
Pie Corbett

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780330543743

This is a lively and imaginative collection of poems for younger children at EYFS and KS1. The opening section - 'Fairies, Mermaids and Princesses' - includes some delightful poems by Clare Bevan which lend themselves beautifully as starting points for children to write their own list poems. What could they add to the princess's turret of treasures (p.2)? Can they think of a few more frightening things to add to a list of things a princess fears (p.8)? We already have 'Broken mirrors / Dragon tears / Poisoned apples / Wicked Wands', all of which will excite children as they make links to stories they know. Can they think of some fairy names (p.9)? and what would they keep in a mermaid's purse (Kate Sedgwick, p.14)? And if fairies and their like are not for some children, turn to some great pirate poems (p.148 - 166). David Harmer's 'How to be a pirate' (p.148) is just calling out to be illustrated: 'First you need a hat / One with three corners or perhaps / One like Nelson wears on his column / But add a skull and crossbones'. Similarly, Roger Stevens' colourful 'Pirates' (p.155) would be an incentive for a painting. Children could design invitations and menus for the party in John Foster's 'Shiver Me Timbers! Yo-Ho-Ho' (p.151). 'Speaking Pirate' (p.152) provides a rich opportunity for performance: 'Just shout Ahoy! / AHOY! / Shout Avast / AVAST!'. Other sections are equally rich. I loved the alliterative 'Space Station Countdown' (p.224) and was touched by John Rice's 'Dark Sky Lullaby' (p.228). This collection will be an invaluable classroom resource. It is well presented with a child-friendly font of a good size so it is both a source book for teachers but also one that will sit comfortably in the book corner. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, Consultant

A First Poetry Book (Macmillan Poetry)
Off By Heart: Poems for Children to Learn and Remember
Roger Stevens

A & C Black (Childrens books)

ISBN 9781408192948

Given the new national curriculum's insistence that children should be reciting poetry, Roger Stevens' anthology is a timely and welcome publication for both Key Stages 1 and 2. Here we have a rich store of 'Poems for YOU to Remember', cannily organised according to the number of lines per poem. So the anthology opens with Stevens' own one-line, one word poem (wittily prefaced with a lengthy title, p.9) and concludes with Edward Lear's 'The Jumblies' ('Now here's a challenge.' says Stevens, p.88). All chosen for their performance qualities, there is not a poem out of place here. There are poems from all eras with rhythm, repetition and rhyme ('I went to the animal fair', p.34); drama ('The Witch! The Witch!', p.12); humour ('Owl' p.18); narrative; sound effects ('ZimZam Zoom!' p.66). Some simply revel in their language, whether it is tongue twisting ('Eletelphony', p.45) or simply lyrical ('Weave me a Poem', p.32). Some poems are accompanied by performance tips and there's a useful section at the end for parents, teachers and carers with advice about how to help children remember poems. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, Consultant

Off By Heart: Poems for Children to Learn and Remember
Here Come the Creatures!
Wes Magee

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847803672

The title poem (p.8) of this accessible collection of poems captures much of the spirit of this lively book that will resonate with younger readers: Here come the creatures, One / Two / Three / A crocodile's holding hands with a flea.... There are poems that are funny, repetitive and play with words with sound effects in abundance: just look at 'Roly Poly' (p.14), 'Drink a glass of lemonade' (p.34) and 'In Creepy Castle' (p.84) for starters! There are plentiful opportunities for adding gestures and developing performances ('Stroke the cat', p.9; 'Garden Birds Beware', p.10). There are poems that offer rich models for the children's own writing. Starting a shared class version of 'Bounce-a-ball' (p.36) or 'Skipping Line' (p.42) could lead to children continuing in the same vein either individually or in groups. And there are calmer poems: the simply wrought description in 'The Red Boat' (p.19) is pitched perfectly for younger children. On a final note, I loved 'Books at Bedtime' (p.82). This would lend itself beautifully to some class detective work - seeking out the stories hinted at in each line and piling these up to complement the poem. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant

Here Come the Creatures!
Vikings in the Supermarket
Nick Sharratt

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200353

Nick Sharratt's unique illustrations will entice children into his first collection of poetry. They dominate the pages providing a wonderful scaffold into the poems themselves. Populated by a host of appealing characters (including the Vikings of the title, a mermaid, pirate, vampire bat and a royal family), there are poems to suit everyone here. 'Fangsalot' is a fabulous bit of rhythmic fun in which a naughty vampire bat sets of a nasty series of fang-growing and biting, only to get his just deserts in the end. In 'Posh Paint' the king and family just can't agree on what colour they should use to cheer up 'dull grey Crumbly castle' and finally settle on a multi-coloured solution, thus creating the 'funkiest fortress ever'. There's lots of scope here for children to design their own funky castles. Similarly, 'The Mermaid and the Shoe' offers rich opportunities for further talk, writing and drawing. The poem suggests the shoe could be used as a boat, a box for shells and rocks and a home for a family of sea-horses (amongst other things): what other possible uses can the children think of the shoe? (As an aside for older children, there are opportunities here for some playfulness with modal verbs: try substituting 'must' for 'could' - 'She could use it as a box...' and see what the impact on meaning is.) I have slight reservations, just occasionally, about the quality of the rhyme and the ease with which it can be read aloud. The delightful 'Vikings in the Supermarket' took me a few goes to get right - but it was worth the effort. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Vikings in the Supermarket
The Monster Sale
Brian Moses

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847803665

Moses' characteristic blend of humour, rhythm and child-friendly content runs through The Monster Sale. Its topics and themes include giants, monsters, animals (with a LOT about dogs!) with appeal for all ages but predominantly for Years 2, 3 and 4. There are poems that address childhood fears ('I know I'm the only one awake in this house', p.16) and those that make the familiar strange ('Night School' p.14). Some of the poems lend themselves beautifully to performance: 'If I had ears the size of Satellite Dishes' (p. 32) and 'Travelling to the Beat of a Drum' (p86) are notable examples. A poem about Enid Blyton ('Big Ted, Enid Blyton and Me', p.18) sits rather uneasily in the collection; maybe its appeal is to the adult reader who is lucky enough to be sharing this volume with children. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

The Monster Sale
Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense
Michael Rosen

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9780340969915

If you want nonsense, look no further than this zany collection of tongue twisters, rhymes and word play from the indefatigable Michael Rosen. Claire Mackie's quirky illustrations are the perfect foil to this equally quirky collection of nonsense verse. 'When dinosaurs fooled the earth' (p.12) is characteristic of Rosen's witty manipulation of words ('Very-lou-asaurus / Seen at big concerts and in school yards'). There's fun with limericks (p.26-7) and if 'Polypropolyene' doesn't get children reading polysyllabic words, I don't know what will... The collection is peppered with off-the-wall asides from cats, mice, a sheep and even a mat! This is huge fun from end-papers to crazy post script. For more fun and nonsense see Even More Nonsense by the same duo. Reviewed by Alison Kelly, consultant.

Michael Rosen's Book of Nonsense
Stars in Jars: New and Collected Poems by Chrissie Gittins
Chrissie Gittins

A & C Black (Childrens books)

ISBN 9781408196939

The lovely, rhythmic opening poem ('Sky-High' p. 9) in this collection gives the book its title: William's rocket trip to the moon and beyond sees him returning with a 'trail of stars' that he brings home to keep them 'safe in jars'. It's an appropriate metaphor for the poems in this book as they are indeed the stars in jars. Here's an opportunity for the imaginative teacher to set up 'poetry star jars' round the classroom into which children could insert their favourite poems. There are familiar themes here but often with unfamiliar twists. The whole gamut of family characters are represented but grandma - in a surprisingly touching poem - is a nun: 'My grandma is a fun nun / and apart from God's, she's mine' (p.23). There's a twist on the well known rhyme with 'Sam, Sam, Quite Contrary' (p.11) which, in common with so many others in the volume has a memorable, lolloping rhythm. If you're worried about the demands of having to learn poems off by heart, where better to start with the downright absurd fun of 'The Hysterical Tulip' (p.7) which simply requires repetition of the same line...? There are poems that invite exploration of language. 'Birds 1' (p.89) offers a rich opening into the wonderful world of collective nouns. There are poems here that could provide potential starting points for children to write their own versions: there are lists to be written: 'Possible Presents' (p.35); 'For Christmas' (p.136); 'Food Sense' (p.59); there are poems that could be extended ('Boxes at Chapel Street Market', p.60; 'The Listening Station', p.68). I love poems about poetry itself so I was delighted to discover the final poem in the book: 'What does poetry do?' (p.141). A poem such as this can help children feel the power of poetry: It nosedives from the top of the fridge / Into a bowl of rapids, / it crawls along the floor / and taps you on the knee, / it changes the colour of a room, / it puts great wheezing slices of life / into bun trays with or without punctuation./ It manages this all by itself. 144 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by Alison Young, educational consultant

Stars in Jars: New and Collected Poems by Chrissie Gittins

ISBN 0000000000001

From their earliest years, children love the sounds, rhythms and patterns of poetic language that they meet in nursery rhymes, games and stories. From infancy, singing games provide the beat that makes us want to dance, nursery rhymes and stories offer familiar patterns of language grab our attention, lullabies give us the reassuring feelings of being warm, secure and loved while games such as Incy Wincy Spider or I'm a Little Teapot make us laugh as we join in with all the actions. Poetry engages, amuses and excites us, introduces a pleasure with words that can last a lifetime. Few other language experiences prepare us more effectively for future literacy learning and primary teachers who feed children's initial love of poetry will find that those early experiences develop as children become readers and writers themselves. However, not all teachers feel confident to teach poetry. Reading and writing poetry in the primary classroom should be rewarding experiences for all concerned, but too often, many colleagues are unsure how to include poetry in their planning. It is pleasing, therefore, to receive a copy of Poetry Train which is described as 'the essential guide to using poetry in the classroom at Key Stages 1 and 2'. This invaluable resource provides a straightforward and practical approach set of teaching ideas that can be used directly from the book. Compiled by poets, David Harmer and Roger Stevens, the ideas, activities and approaches they share are based on time spent working successfully with children. Any teacher could try out, or adapt, the many suggestions within their own classroom. Director of the Poetry Society, Judith Palmer, points out in her introduction that teachers are encouraged, once they feel more confident, to 'pull these activities apart, mix and match sections, scrap bits and add bits' and, most importantly, let the exploration of language be a pleasure for all. Download the resource for free at www.poetry society.org.uk/education, or contact: educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk for more information. Reviewed by Prue Goodwin, Literacy Consultant