I am a Poetato by John Hegley

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I am a Poetato by John Hegley

Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: An A to Z of poems about animals, people and poetry as seen through the eyes of performance poet John Hegley.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781847803979

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In this collection John Hegley says that poetry is like music in that to understand it sometimes…you need more than one go at it. There is certainly more going on with John Hegley’s poems than a first read through reveals. So though I am a Poetato has been published as a book for children, these are poems for everyone and contain a lot for readers of any age to enjoy.

As an example of this, take the poem Horsie. A short story of a poem, only ten lines long, that tells the reader about a chance remark. But I don’t think that there will be many parents reading it who don’t recognise the moment described: a step change on the road from child to adult, captured in the difference between a horsie and a horse.

The collection has many of Hegley’s hallmarks. Playful and thoughtful, shape poems and straight poems, all dotted with his own illustrations as well as pictures by his daughter and friends. I’m hard pushed to pick out my favourite, but it is probably somewhere between Wise Camel and Guillemot. Wise Camel is a Christmas must read, telling the story of the little known fourth wise man and his beast of burden, who carried the gift of straw. This is a poem to spark laughter, conversation and thought in the run up to Christmas. While the wise camel is a story time animal, the poem Guillemot brings the living bird into your living room. Read it aloud as a rap and it sweeps and dives just like the edgy bird it describes.

The one thing that I hesitated over with this book had nothing to do with the poetry. It was the overall design of the book itself. The end papers are eye catching, very 1950’s letter boxes by Helen Rawlinson. Inside the pages capture the process of the poems being written by presenting them on different types of paper. There’s graph paper, pages taken from notepads, pages scrunched up ready to go in the bin then straightened out and reused. The effect adds immediacy and is great, but it’s all done in shades of grey. By the end of the book I was desperate for some colour and I suspect that younger readers might be too. Or is that just me? What do you think?

If you want to use this collection as a spring board into more poetry, move onto A To Z - The Best Children's Poetry From Agard To Zephaniah by Michael Rosen, which includes two poems by John Hegley.

If you like John Hegley you will probably love A Children's Treasury of Milligan by Spike Milligan.

Buy I am a Poetato by John Hegley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I am a Poetato by John Hegley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I am a Poetato by John Hegley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I am a Poetato by John Hegley at Amazon.com.


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