|Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses by Brian Moses|
|Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A new and selected collection from an author with a bright eye for a witty verse, as well as a more thoughtful thread.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: February 2017|
|Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
For a poet with the very memorable name of Moses, I have to admit never having come across it before, nor having knowingly read any of his works. This collection was the perfect place for me to come late to the party, as it takes the author's own favourites from several previous anthologies of his, and adds new verses. I read them with very little clue as to which was which – and certainly couldn't tell having finished the book. There is a lot here that will grab the young schoolchild, but the topics cover so much there really will be a universal appeal, meaning that a lot of people will have a definite favourite from these pages, even if the author himself cannot decide…
That said, I know which ones I liked and which I didn't. After a lovely introductory verse we have a spread of animal poems, and the first three in the book are wonderful – bright, clear, lyrical and most re-readable. With the use of choruses, several of the works here are more akin to song lyrics, and with the author doing the usual round of school visits to supplement his written income, as it were, they would be perfect for vocalising. And the school visits get to supply some subjects later on, as he sneaks the pupil into the staff room a couple of times, and tries to sit in on teacher training day. But there is also a lot here that the stereotypical young reader wouldn't normally choose to see in poem form – history lessons, whimsical looks at the passing of time, and tributes to fancy places (Dublin, New York, Dungeness…).
There are also topics that nobody would really expect to see versified, either, such as musings on Laika and Yuri Gagarin, the environment, and shopping trolleys. All this is fine and wonderful, but as I said some I found much less favour with. I know I'm still a kid at heart, but I very much preferred the ones with the clear rhythm, and the strict rhyming, as opposed to the free verse, and I say that as my biggest caveat for the book as I think generally children will be of the same mind.
That's never to say a young reader shouldn't be stretched, and all forms should be shown to her or him. But it does leave me with a wish for the brightness of the 'poppy' ones, when they're as good as those here – I found I could take or leave a couple of pieces later on that might or might not be the new material. Certainly there are clever things going on pretty much everywhere you look, such as cross rhymes and internal rhyming, but at least one piece really could have been called prose, but for the line breaks.
That said, the author does still manage to justify his failure at picking a personal favourite, for there are a heck of a lot to pick from in this high-quality book. Aliens steal underwear, houses themselves go on holiday, birds gather on an autumn's telegraph wires ready to fly south, and a sheep doesn't get to say enough. Summaries like that prove there is something for everyone here, as there should be in any good poetry collection. And this at times is more than a very good poetry collection.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
How to be a Tiger by George Szirtes and Tim Archbold had a similar issue – some great works, and some that were too modern to be full of the rhythm and rhyme us young-at-heart still like.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses by Brian Moses at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses by Brian Moses at Amazon.com.
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