In my experience, poetry can be an area often overlooked in schools. But why? Personally, I didn’t feel that I knew enough about composing poetry to teach it properly. But what about sharing poems, performing poems, dipping into a volume and seeing what grabs you? That’s the beauty of a good poetry book and the judging panel for the CLiPPA are dedicated to bringing the very best of those to children across our primary and secondary schools.
The CLiPPA poetry award has been run by the CPLE (Centre for Primary Literacy Education) for over twenty years with the judging panel being formed by the previous year’s winner and other poetry experts. I had the pleasure of interviewing chair of judges, A.F. Harrold, about the short-listing process and this year’s nominees for my #LibraryGirlAndBookBoy podcast (listen HERE.) But if you’re after a quick run-down, here they are:
‘Thinker: My Puppy Poet And Me’ by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi (Tiny Owl)
Thinker isn’t just your average pup. He’s a poet, but obviously the world isn’t ready to know so he has to keep quiet in public. But with Pet’s Day looming at school, Thinker’s going to find it difficult to keep his true identity a secret.
The poems in this book are like a conversation between Thinker and his boy Jace. They tell the story of the pair meeting and becoming best friends. Ehsan Abdollahi’s illustrations beautifully capture the warmth and fun of their relationship.
‘A Kid In My Class’ by Rachel Rooney, illustrated by Chris Riddell (Otter-Barry Books)
This poetry book could have been written with me in mind. A series of funny, true-to-life, and sometimes heart-breaking poems about the types of children you could encounter in your average primary school classroom, combined with stunning illustrations by one of my all-time illustrative heroes!
You’ll meet the day dreamer, the drama queen and the questioner which are sure to make you chuckle. Perhaps you recognise some of the children outlined in classes you’ve taught, or maybe you recognise some of them on yourself. The one we all need to watch out for is the ‘Tough Kid.’
‘Dark Sky Park: Poems From the Edge of Nature’ by Philip Gross, illustrated by Jesse Hodgson (Otter-Barry Books)
Fact meets fiction in this fascinating collection of dramatic and exciting poems which celebrate the wonderful extremes of life on our planet.
Discover the Tardigrade Sagas, boiling black smokers, the deepest abysses and the wonder of the Northern Lights.
‘Rebound’ by Kwame Alexander, cover photo by John Huet (Andersen Press)
A stunning novel about Charlie Bell, who’s in mourning for his father, confused about his feelings for his best (girl) friend, CJ. When he gets himself in trouble one time too many, his mum sends him to Washington DC for the summer to stay with his grandparents. His cousin Roxie reintroduces him to the game of basketball. A star is born! But can Charlie keep out of trouble when it comes knocking once again?
Written by award-winning author, Kwame Alexander in his trademark verse, and short-listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, this book is a great transition title for pupils moving out of primary school and into the lower years of secondary/ high school.
‘Everything All At Once’ by Steven Camden (aka Polarbear) (Macmillan Children’s Books)
“School. Heaven, hell, waiting for the bell…”
This brilliant collection of poems is an ode to secondary school. From your first day as a year 7 stepping into an alien spaceship, to the parting thoughts of a student about to leave, all are mused upon. Events minuscule and monumental, public and private are explored in poetic form as we roam the battleground which is ‘big school.’
It would be interesting to use this with secondary-aged pupils to see how it reflects their reality and for them to contribute their own verses to.
Make sure you head to twitter to find out who wins on the 3rd July. In the meantime, remember to listen to my podcast which has more information on all the titles and insider info about the short-listing process.
*Thank you to A.F. Harrold for agreeing to be interviewed and to Catherine Alpert for sending me the short-list to enjoy*