A is Amazing!: Poems about Feelings by Wendy Cooling and Piet Grobler
|A is Amazing!: Poems about Feelings by Wendy Cooling and Piet Grobler|
|Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A wonderful selection of short poems for the young to read, with a clever and valuable eye to editing from compiler Wendy Cooling.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
How do you get young children interested in poetry? I guess you hope that you don't have to – you want them to be aware of clapping and skipping songs by nature, and of lyrics to music heard in school and at home. Surely it's a case of making sure a child never learns to hold verse in disfavour, and carries a natural eagerness for poetry through to adulthood. But just in case, there are books such as this wonderfully thought-through compilation, that will catch the eye and entertain those aged six or seven and up, and provide for many a read of many a different style of verse.
It's been thought through with a very keen eye by the compiler Wendy Cooling. It's not for nothing that it starts with a poem about a poem, and the way it slowly reveals its core. Many of these verses have an immediacy, even if it doesn't first appear so on the page. e e cummings comes across as looking just plain weird (and how come this is the second completely different book in a row I've read to give his name upper case letters?). In about the biggest blunder from the makers, they lay out a lament from the moon in a way that only disguises the strong rhyme scheme James Carter gives it. But elsewhere the book presents its poems with the clarity and style one needs.
I could go on and on about the many merits of the collection here, but feel that if I do labour the point I'll merely make the book sound good, but worthy. It is great, and it is worthy, but without feeling so. The collection covers poems from the last two hundred years, from many corners of the world, in many styles, and with a great subtle emphasis on the female poet that a similar volume would never have had back in my day. The spread of styles and variety in content is just wonderful. The artwork, a mixture of watercolour and other media, might not be to everyone's taste, but does aid in cognition. Finally, while the book is sold on the alphabetical arrangement of moods and feelings that the poems can convey, this is both loosely done at times (P is for puddle-wonderful, Z is for fizzy) and just a friendly handle for the book, a raison d'etre the contents had all along regardless.
Those contents won me over, I must say. There are big names here (Wendy Cope, Roger McGough et al) and those yet unknown to me. There is a great rap from a regal mousing cat, the good kind of wicked stepmother, and the fond protection of a robin's nest. There are poems about the reader too – the magical power of their name, or the bad strops they may get in. Well they really shouldn't get in a strop upon receiving this book. I can see it being bought more by school librarians than by parents, but this is a joy, and a very clever and fulfilling compilation. It's really quite lovely.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
A to Z - The Best Children's Poetry From Agard To Zephaniah by Michael Rosen will not age any time soon.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A is Amazing!: Poems about Feelings by Wendy Cooling and Piet Grobler at Amazon.com.
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