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This captivating collection comprises intensely poignant profiles of people and places; of domestic life and wild landscapes, especially Scotland’s “dark and stormy waters”, with flashes of crimson running through the poems in the form of fire, a fox, red shoes, a red balloon. Among the cast of memorable characters is Mrs Dungeon Brae, terrifying in both life and death, and The Knitter, who “knits to keep death away” and urgently recounts big life occasions knitting has accompanied her through, all the while “casting on, casting off”. Then there’s the grandmother lamenting the fact that “it’s no like the past for grannies these days...nobody knows how to make a conversation/ let alone make a home-made meal or a fresh baked scone.” Brimming with humanity - with love, anger, frustration and flashes of humour - this engaging, accessible anthology makes a richly rewarding gift for language lovers of all ages.
Poems to help you change the world | Highlighted as a recommended read for National Poetry Day (3rd October), three of our best poets for children come together in this excellent new anthology with a challenge for their young audience: go out and help change the world. Alongside poems on the many threats to the environment and the natural world are poems that pose ‘tricky questions’ about how we choose to live. There are poems to make children laugh, to inspire them and inform them; above all here are poems that will provoke a reaction. It might be something practical, like deciding to change the contents of your lunchbox, or it might mean making a change to the way you understand the world. It ends with Liz Brownlee’s quiet but powerful poem ‘Snow’, a beautiful example of how the smallest things can effect change.
August 2019 Debut of the Month | Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.
Blast off into space and explore the galaxies with a constellation of illustrated poems about the sun, moon and stars, black holes and worm holes, asteroids and meteorites, and even weird alien life forms. From shape poems and free verse to rhymes, kennings and haikus, Spaced Out will take you on an intergalactic adventure. Join Brian Moses and James Carter and a wealth of new and established poets to discover your inner space cadet! This starry collection is the perfect way to get children interested in poetry.
March 2019 Book of the Month | Compiled by YA author and broadcaster Juno Dawson, this inspiring anthology of illustrated short stories by LGBTQ+ writers shines a light on a kaleidoscopic array of experiences through an equally kaleidoscopic breadth of genres, themes and styles. From Chinese lesbian fairytale The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So, to Simon James Green’s hilarious, heart-warming Penguins (who would’ve thought a pair of penguins could steal a person’s coming out thunder?!), this is a powerfully diverse collection. Alongside more established names, among them authors David Levithan and Jess Vallance, and illustrator David Roberts, special mention must go to the four new voices whose stories grace these pages – be sure to seek out what Karen Lawler, Michael Lee Richardson, Cynthia So and Kay Staples do next. These are stories of struggle and trouble, passion and promise, with much wit, warmth, wisdom and support shared along the way. And so it seems fitting to leave the last loud, proud, celebratory words to Dan from David Levithan’s queer youth choir story: “You hold your ground. You sing out loud and proud in defiance of all the people who want you to be quiet”.
Featuring effervescent illustrations and an engaging rhyming text, this picture book has lots of page-turning “what happens next?” appeal, which makes it perfect for reading aloud to animal-mad toddlers. Poor Tiger! He’s lost his stripes while doing his washing, and a real sense of drama is evoked as Tiger prowls the jungle in search of them. Along the way he encounters a host of animals who’ve also lost their defining features - first parading Peacock who’s lost his “fabulous tail”, then Mongoose who’s lost his nose, then Wolf who’s without his teeth. But who’s the thief? While the text could be trimmed in places for smoother scansion, and the concluding morals could be expressed more subtly, this is a well-designed, vibrant picture book, and the reveal and outcome is sure to illicit surprise from little ones. Joanne Owen
The book behind the viral internet sensation of The Scottish Granny reading this story to her grandchild, viewed over 3 million times. Based on the popular song, The Wonky Donkey has sold over one million copies worldwide. Who ever heard of a spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey? This hilarious picture book will have children - and adults - braying with laughter!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 | | Award-winning illustrator Shirley Hughes is regarded as a national treasure for her touching and realistic picture books of contemporary pre-school life. This delightful anthology is full of Christmassy and wintery poems and stories all brought to life by her familiar illustrations of families enjoying seasonal delights. The perfect for book for the season.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | Illustrator and author Chris Riddell has created a rich anthology of poems from the past to the present all of which have a special meaning for him. Grouping them under headings including ‘Musings’, ‘Youth’, ‘Imaginings’, ‘Nature’ and ‘Endings’ he has added an illustration to each often giving an insight into his own reading of it. Passages from Shakespeare and classic poems such as John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky sit comfortably alongside contemporary poems such as Rachel Rooney’s The Language of Cat and Jackie Kay’s Something Rhymed while the inclusion of the words of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and Nick Cave’s Love Letter adds a refreshing fresh touch.
Via simple but elegant illustrations, and a gentle sometimes playful rhyming text, this picture book passes on all sorts of information about water and its importance, while never losing the sense of the beauty of this essential element. Words and illustrations take us back in time to the beginning of life on Earth, up hills and deep below the surface to explain that “clouds, rain, river, sea, water cycles endlessly”. Carefully placed splashes of colour underscore pages of different blues, the tinkling rhythm of the text bringing a sense of calm. It all concludes with five fascinating facts about the “world wide wet” and this is a book to savour on lots of different levels.
Shortlisted for the CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2017 A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month September 2018 | | Michael Rosen is the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, along with many other picture books and collections of poetry. Packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this new collection of poems will delight children of all ages.
One of our 2018 Books of the Year | National Poetry Day is a chance for everyone everywhere to read, share and enjoy poetry. This special anthology features poems by the National Poetry Day Ambassadors, a top team of fantastic poets who bring poetry alive all year round.
Featuring a selection of rhymes for the very young adapted from Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell’s award-winning A Great Big Cuddle, Wiggly Wiggly is a tour de force of catchy rhythms and bouncy beats, cheerful pictures and cheeky characters. Each of the nine rhymes are made to be read aloud, made to encourage the very littlest to join in with the sounds, the words, the actions (wriggling, bouncing, sloshing, finger walking). The verses will hold their appeal no matter how many times you have to read them (hundreds), while the draughtsmanship and vitality of Chris Riddell’s illustrations takes the breath away with each turn of the page. They’re never too young for poetry and this is an absolute nursery must-have.
Winner of UKLA Shortlist Book Awards 2019 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | Will is only fifteen but he’s experienced more violence and loss than most people might in an entire lifetime. His big brother Shawn was recently shot dead, right in front of him, but as “everybody knows”, “gunshots make everybody/deaf and blind especially/when they make somebody/dead”. While his mom mourns, “sobbing into her palms”, Will knows what he has to do. He must follow the three rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. Armed with Shawn’s gun, Will heads down six floors in an elevator on his revenge mission, thinking he knows exactly who he’s going after. When the “spooky ass” elevator stops at each floor and ghosts from the past step into the “vertical coffin”, doubts set in as Will is presented with more facts and finally comes face to face with some big choices (do some rules need to be broken? Does he want out of the cycle?), and more besides. The writing is crisp, clever and dazzlingly compact, with a whole family history and personally-charged societal issues conveyed with powerful precision. The line and page breaks are perfectly constructed, words and phrases frequently have multiple meanings, and Chris Priestley’s raw and resonant illustrations are hauntingly powerful.