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Swimming Lessons. Poems by Lili Reinhart, illus. by Curt Montgomery. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

November 22, 2020 Comments off

I awoke in the night and couldn’t sleep so I picked this excellent anthology to read until sleep took me. It never did. The poems entranced me so much that I had to finish and they will do the same to you.

The poems are short and long, some a few lines others three or four pages. Many are a series of couplets, sometimes three lines then a single line. None of them rhyme in the traditional way poetry does. The poetry comes from the beautiful flow of language.

The themes are love from the beginnings of young love with it’s newness and it’s doubts. The reader will know all the feelings described and the heartbreak when things go wrong.

The poems have no titles, they are separated by a blank red page and they make compulsive reading. Everyone wants love to last forever and in one poem these words describe that:- Forever has an expiry date. There is no always. No forever. Just now.

How true.

Other prophetic subjects are covered such as reincarnation. Maybe you believe in reincarnation but even if that happens, you come back as an entirely different being in an entirely different life.

The poems are superbly illustrated in red and black ink outlines that say so much and enhance the written poetry.

For high school and young adult readers plus adults. The most moving book of poems I have ever read.

The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice. spectacularly silly poems by A.F. Harrold. illus. Mini Grey. Pub Bloomsbury, 2020.

November 6, 2020 Comments off

Poetry is one o the best medium to illustrate how versatile language is and to show various situations for what they are from absurd to frightening.

The title suggests that the advice is not entirely useful but I found it very useful and have memorised a few lines to be used at the appropriate time.

Written in four sections with poems in rhyming couplets, in blank verse and both short and long but always showing how language can be used. Section 1is advice on food, ducks and dessert, Section 2 animals, giants and the natural world, Section 3 school life and general stuff and Section 4 the human condition. Some good stuff here.

My favourite is titled The Dangers of Rock and Roll and it goes like this:-

Don’t put a rock in a roll, unless you hate your teeth. And be careful when rolling rocks, in case you end up underneath.

Excellent illustrations that emphasise the madcap nature of the poetry.

One of the best [poetry books around for primary and intermediate students but even for older kids than that.

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Seagull Seagull. Poems by James K. Baxter. Illus. by Kieran Rynhart.

March 5, 2020 Comments off

seagullSeagull Seagull. Poems by James K. Baxter. Illus. by Kieran Rynhart. Pub. Gecko Press, 2020.

Twenty one superb poems for children of all ages reflecting the New Zealand way of life and the creatures that live here. They are known as The Tree house Poems and they are short and ideal to be read aloud.

Most poems are the ballad type with every second line rhyming. The Grasshopper starts things off with a plea from the poet to “tell me the wonderful things that you’ve seen” and ends with the owl saying “pack up your toys and get ready for bed”.

In between there is The Tree House, Twenty little Engines and my favourite If I were King of Sweden.  Seagull looks down at humans below and cries “if you’ll throw me a crust or two, I’ll come right down and eat with you”.Seagulls never change.

There are poems about shepherds and eel fishing but the one that has the gretest impact is The Gorse Fire. The power of this poem is enhanced by the illustrations of Kieran Rynhart – the bone dry landscape and the billowing smoke “up the brown hillside like a river on fire”

Beautifully illustrated and totally New Zealand. Read it, you will love it.

The Night the moon fell Down by Bill Nagelkerke.

September 26, 2019 Comments off

poetryThe Night the moon fell Down by Bill Nagelkerke.  Copy Press Nelson, 2019.

This is the first book of poems that I have reviewed on this blog and it required some thinking of how I was going to do it.

It was obvious from the first poem as “One quick flick One sharp click One small bulb Scares away the big, dark night” that Bill was born to be a poet and that poetry helped him remember and understand his childhood.

He writes about playing football with a homemade ball, riding scooters with ‘My best friend’s Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s brother”, going to the supermarket for milk and buying a whole trolley full of other groceries.

His father was a baker because “he kneads the dough (sad joke I know” and his mother makes concrete cake. Xmas came from Holland in a parcel and Mount Cook “lost thirty feet The day it’s summit plummeted”.

He finishes with every writer’s nightmare “A pain at night Can sometimes be a poem in the head” and the last  poem is 25 words given to him by a teacher to make a poem. Superb.

Simple, easy to understand and a lot more than I have told you here.

For primary and secondary school readers.

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