A Passing On of Shells: 50 Fifty-Word Poems

A Passing On of Shells: 50 Fifty-Word Poems

By Author / Illustrator

Simon Lamb, Chris Riddell



Age range(s)



Scallywag Press








Scallywag Press proudly present Simon Lamb's dazzling debut collection of poetry, featuring fifty luminous poems, each written in exactly fifty words, fully-illustrated throughout by much-loved former Children's Laureate Chris Riddell.With subjects ranging from family, identity, and growing up, to the need for hope, the wonder of nature, and the very concept of poetry itself, Simon offers his poems as small nuggets of wisdom, warmth and wit to help readers of all ages navigate their lives.Complementing the always-present three-dimensional sense of drama and interaction with the reader, every poem is gifted its own double page spread, each one exquisitely illustrated by Chris Riddell, with his distinctive insight and flair adding new layers of meaning and joy to these already magical poems.A beautifully-produced hardback gift edition with textured cover, de-bossing and thick paper, this is a book to read, to keep, to love.



A Passing on of Shells is a collection of 50 poems, each written using fifty words. There is much to enjoy here as Simon Lamb uses a variety of poetic styles and techniques, offering an ingenious selection of work on many themes.

The collection opens with 'How to Start an Adventure', the perfect way to fire the imagination and encourage creativity. Many of the poems here are perfect for performing like 'The Satsuma Rumour' or 'Garden Phantoms', whilst others provoke thinking and discussion. 'They Built a Bridge', 'What We Wear' and 'A Line in the Sand' would all be brilliant as part of a circle time or PSHE session.

'You Make Me So Acrostic' will elicit a wry smile from many teachers! Many believe the acrostic form is an easy one to use; however, as this poem suggests, if poorly taught, it can result in the most appallingly contrived, stilted pieces. This amusing poem would make an excellent starting point for discussions about the form, perhaps whilst tactfully looking at a variety of examples!

Many of the poems here would make excellent models to inspire a class - or an individual - to create their own, perhaps adhering to the 50 words theme or not! Others are just beautiful poetry moments which effortlessly capture a mood or feeling. I love 'Snow Globes', 'Still Earth' and 'Pocket Poem' and know I will return to these again and again.

The title of the collection is a line from 'Life on the Rock', a beautiful, reflective work, sure to provoke discussion - and the perfect title for this book! The whole collection is lavishly illustrated by Chris Riddell whose wonderful illustrations capture the mood of each poem perfectly - humorous, pensive, poignant - and will encourage children to make their own artistic responses to the poems. Each poem and its picture is to be dwelt on and enjoyed - a fabulous collection!

112 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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