Eight brilliant children's poetry books for National Poetry Day
Published on: 05 October 2022
Thursday 6 October is National Poetry Day - the perfect time to celebrate all the wonderful and diverse poems that find their way into our libraries! These eight poetry books for children, chosen by Zaro Weil, are some you'll definitely want to add to your shelves...
We are so lucky. Each year more and more wonderfuller and wonderfuller children's poetry books pop out from a host of brilliant and talented authors. The following poetry collections combine giant measures of wit, warmth and wisdom, as well as some terrific poetry. I happily and wholeheartedly recommend every single one.
Dear Ugly Sisters and Other Poems by Laura Mucha, illustrated by Tania Rex, published by Otter-Barry
This book is the kind of poetry anthology I wish I could have read as a child. In her no-holds-barred wonderful collection, Laura stuns us with a combination of innovation, charm and magical words. And, as if that is not enough, she hooks us with her fabulous poetry rock and roll. Laura approaches the unfashionable. Plays brilliantly with science. Turns fairy tales upside-down. And captivates with ideas totally ridiculous and unreasonable. Her currency is imaginative wordplay. Her message is a global embrace of the lonely, the fearful and the outsider. I especially liked her beautiful TREES poem.
Be The Change: Poems To Help You Save The World by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, published by Macmillan Children's Books
Each one of these seasoned authors has conspired to create an eloquent and powerful little book about the importance of taking care of the planet. The eloquence rests in the authors' well pitched, caring and evocative language. The power rests in a measured messaging about a subject which kids cannot help hearing about more and more. But this book goes beyond that. These poems challenge children to play an active role. To really be the change/ to walk the walk/spread the word (Matt Goodfellow) and let us save the planet/ one step at a time/one paper bag at a time (Roger Stephens). SNOW, by Liz Brownlee, is particularly moving.
The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice: Spectacularly Silly Poems by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Mini Grey, published by Bloomsbury
A.F. Harrold caught me unawares with this thought-rattling, mad-cap and oh-so-wise book of ridiculous advice. His first notes to the reader, It's a dangerous world, and so I have created this book to keep readers everywhere safe, left me wide-eyed and 100% excited to dive into this superbly illustrated book with its extravaganza of beautifully rhythmic and quietly sensitive text. Wow! What a treat. I roared aloud when I read How to Avoid a Giant who has Escaped from a Nearby Fairytale.
Illustration: Erika Meza
Saturdays at the Imaginarium by Shauna Darling Robertson, illustrated by Jude Wilson, published by Troika Books
This humdinger of a book is both intimate and everyday while reaching out to the cosmos and beyond. And most of all, if I dare use the word, it is soulful. No reader, of any age, will fail to be moved as Shauna uncovers secret thoughts that we don't even know are there. These well written poems remind me that when I like something very much I don't even begin to know whether to laugh or cry. I was especially moved by Dark, my friend.
Where Do Wishes Go by Debra Bertulis, illustrated by Jess Mason, published by Otter-Barry Books
A delightful combination of imagination, empathy and vivid everyday portraits inform this lovely début collection. Debra paints her poems from the point of view of the child. The poetry styles are varied, the language is perfectly matched for every theme and the messages both illuminating and sincere. I was touched by this gentle and compelling little book and was especially smitten by Love is Never Lost.
Scared? by Neal Zetter and Joshua Seigal, illustrated by Zoe Williams, published by Troika Books
I am a-feared! What an inventive, lively and pitch perfect book. In well measured, articulate and often laugh-out-loud language, the authors seamlessly unwrap, with warmth and understanding, a catalogue of fears all kids face at one time or another; from everyday worries to more profound concerns. Neal and Joshua have managed to put together a quite delicious and 'of-our-times' book. I particularly was struck by the poems Sadness (NZ) and Hierarchy of Terrors (JS).
Things That Should Be In A Poem by Coral Rumble, illustrated by Shih-Yu Lin, published by Troika Books
Coral really knows how to turn a phrase and REALLY knows how to make you laugh. And think. Her newest collection brims with love for the world around us as well as being sprinkled throughout with quirky curiosity. Inside the beautifully lyrical illustrated pages animals dance, rabbits rhyme, puddles bubble and on and on. The lively words and enchanting rhythms highlight the power of our collective imagination. I was particularly struck by Rabbit Rhythms.
When Poems Fall From The Sky by Zaro Weil, Illustrated by Junli Song, published in paperback by Welbeck Editions
Illustration: Junli Song
Putting this volume together, I was inspired by the wonders of Kew. The mystery and excitement of the natural world I found there fired my imagination. As I walked through the gardens, I felt a strange tingle; as though somehow I was part of the landscape. Slowly I began to see things from the point of view of things both large and small, animate and inanimate in the garden itself. From the extraordinary trees, bugs, flowers and birds to the infinity of deep earth and the mysteries of darting shadows. The book is packed with the poetry of fun and joy as well as with the poetry of concern. Concern for our beautiful planet. The fabulous artwork by Junli Song captures this beauty perfectly.
Got the poetry bug? Join Children's Laureate Joseph Coelho for a Poetry Prompt and get scribbling your own verse!
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Waterstones Children's Laureate: Joseph Coelho
Poet Joseph Coelho is the Waterstones Children's Laureate for 2022-24.
The role of Children's Laureate is awarded once every two years to an eminent writer or illustrator of children's books to celebrate outstanding achievement in their field. Find out what Joseph's been up to.