By Author / Illustrator

Joshua Seigal, Neal Zetter, illus Zoe Williams



Age range(s)



Troika Books




Paperback / softback




'It follows me and yet it's not a part of me / It does the things I do'.   48 inventive, insightful poems exploring the darker side. From bullies to black holes, cats to clowns, these original and thought-provoking poems are a roller coaster ride through both the silliness and sadness of being human.  Scared? celebrates the work of poets Neal Zetter and Joshua Seigal and it's not afraid of exploring the tougher side of growing up. A book that can pave the way for important conversations.

This is Neal and Joshua's second collaboration for Troika. Yuck and Yum: A Feast of Funny Food Poems has been widely praised for its vibrant poetry and has been cited as the perfect book for using in the classroom and engaging children.



Neal Zetter and Joshua Seigal combine forces in this collaboration of poems which explores the 'darker side' of life. Not afraid of tackling uncomfortable subjects, each of these poets offers words which could lead to important discussions, will challenge and perhaps, comfort those who read them.

'Max is Not in School' explores the relief felt by a child as they realise that this will be a day when they do not have to endure Max's constant attacks whilst 'Bully!' exposes the lurking insecurity of the bully, offering reasons - not justifications - for their actions. There are poems about family relationships - 'Circle Time', 'the d I vorce', 'When Dad Turns into an Incredible Hulk' whilst 'Gifted' and 'The Orange Table' offer insights into life at school.

There are so many poems here which open doors to potentially difficult discussions, developing empathy and building understanding as they encourage children to consider things from the point of view of others whilst giving a voice to those who might need it. Although this sounds deep and dark, there are lighter moments to be found here too. Despite its name, 'The Seriously Scary Poem' really isn't and 'Skeleton in the Cupboard' plays with words, not fears. 'Tyrannosaurus Came to Tea' is inspired by Judith Kerr's classic and anyone who has had a cat is sure to recognise their feline friend in 'Catastrophic', whilst 'Exclamation Mark!' is a light-hearted look at punctuation.

With poems which can be used across the curriculum, this is a great collection for teachers of UKS2 upwards, but is also perfect for exploring at home. Are you brave enough?

96 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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