Newest Children's Rhymes and Verse Reviews

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A Poem for Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri

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For those who do not read much poetry, for those who do not know where to start, this is a fun and easy commitment to take on. Reading a poem a day does not take long, mere minutes, and with over three-hundred poems in here there's bound to be a poem that speaks to each reader directly. Full review...

80 by Roger McGough

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Yes, Roger McGough has hit 80 – and it's a query in the reader's mind as to whether he's 80 years of age or just celebrating 80 books, as he's been very highly regarded in poetic circles for so long now that both seem plausible. In fact, this book is designed to applaud his ninth decade's arrival due in November 2017 (his birthday is 9/11 – that's the British 9/11, not the other one), and it dutifully compiles 80 poems – with a bonus, new one on the back cover. You also have to take pause in estimating his life's achievement by thinking that not every book of his is, like this one, family-friendly and classroom fodder – but still, such is his output that selecting 80 best must have been no easy feat. Full review...

Greatest Magical Stories by Michael Morpurgo (editor)

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I might have started this review by saying something like 'only reading can give your world such wonder'. But that's wrong – meeting a selkie can, being sent to sleep for a century can, guessing the name of a dwarven spinner maestro can, and so can so much more in the world of children's narrative. This delightful book is jam-packed with quickly-told classic delights, from Norse-based fable to the purest source of pantomime. And everywhere you turn you find something full of wonder. Full review...

A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood by Sarah Webb and Steve McCarthy

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Poetry can come from anywhere, and anything, but this book relies on that which has some link to Irish – a Gaelic twinge here, a bit of the auld country now and again, and an aspect to it that harks back to the source over the sea to the west of us. There's a typical Irish woman's typical cake, which is practically inedible, there is evidence the woman who will be coming round the mountains when she comes was from Erin, and an inciter of workers' strikes and suchlike in America, and there is St Patrick, the Belle of Belfast City, and her southern equivalent, Molly Malone – all presented in exuberant full colour. Full review...

Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred: A Collection of Time Lord Verse (Dr Who) by James Goss and Russell T Davies

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Consider the Doctor. Just how many birthday and Christmas gifts must he have to hand out each year, were he to keep in touch with even half of his companions? He would certainly need a few novelty gifts for some of them, say, for example, whimsical books of verse that pithily encapsulate the life of a Time Lord and that of some of his friends and enemies. As luck would have it, he has the space in his TARDIS to stock up in advance, so my advice to him – sorry, her – would be to pop along to his local Earth-based book emporium and get himself ready. And if you're working on a shorter timescale, with a shorter lifespan, and thinking perhaps just one gift season ahead, well my advice is pretty much the same. Full review...

Here Come the Superheroes by Neal Zetter and Chris White

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I'm quite sure you're well aware of the spate of superhero movies doing the rounds these days, with any and every star of the comics page seemingly on the big screen – and the small. They're everywhere, and their numbers are only growing. But here is a unique chance to meet a few more – Mega Slug, Micro Girl, Magnetic Me, Sister Speed – even one calling himself the Ultimate Superhero. But we're not meeting them in a well-established comic universe, or with some horrid and convoluted back story. No, we're being introduced to them all in the format of verse – and for the young superhero and/or poetry fan this clearly has an instant appeal. Full review...

A Home Full of Friends by Peter Bently and Charles Fuge

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Bramble Badger was out looking for nuts by the river when the storm broke and he was so cold that he decided to go straight home. On the way he met a trail of devastation: Snuffle Dormouse's house has been squashed by a falling tree. She'd like shelter in Bramble's sett, if he has room. He's a little bit reluctant because he thinks his sett is in a mess and there isn't much space or dinner available, but what can you do when a friend is in need? Next it's Tipper the Toad whose home is full of mud, then Boo the Hedgehog's nest has been covered by leaves. Full review...

Overheard in a Tower Block: Poems by Joseph Coelho and Kate Milner

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I've said it before, and I'll end up saying it again – for sheer variety of contents, and diversity on the page, you can seldom beat poetry. Here are bullied children, the angst of parental break-up, and hard-done-by gods getting revenge. We're in the realm of myth, and Richmond Park, and Eastbourne. We're with whale sharks, or stuck in tower blocks, or feeding the seagulls that are with us in the latter but that ought to be with the former. We're rapping about puberty, visiting our absent father to tell him our exam results, and leaving for university. I'm sure you'll agree, that's spread enough for any book, let alone a slender hundred pages. Full review...

Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen

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Yes, that is really a 'Message from the Moon' you receive courtesy of this book. You also get the point of view of the sea itself, as well as children seeing the city night from their bedroom window and other people witnessing geese flying over, and you even get a message from a snail. The range of verses in this book is however but one of its many qualities… Full review...

Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses by Brian Moses

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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… Full review...

Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson

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I doubt if you could have zebras, foxes, the end of the world, penguins, dinosaurs and people out of fairy tale all together if it wasn't in a book of poetry. Even short stories would struggle to fit the breadth of content into as few pages as this volume does. Add in home life, school life and, er, football, and you really do have a diverse selection of subjects. All have caught the eye of our author ever since she started her career – some of these poems date back a decade – and now she is going to try her damnedest, with some brilliant design, to make sure they all catch the eye of you. Full review...

How to be a Tiger by George Szirtes and Tim Archbold

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Wet again, yet again! Down it drips, little fingertips, tapping and snapping as if the rain were cross.
See the branches toss? See the puddles grow? Has it stopped raining? NO.

Yes, sometimes only a quote will do. After all, we do come to poetry for snappy concision, and that's what we get here… Full review...

A Poem for Every Night of the Year by Allie Esiri

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Poetry can feel a little intimidating, to children and grown-ups. All those school lessons of dissecting poems in order to ascertain exactly what the poet intended with every word and stylistic form tend to kill the beauty of a well-written poem. This collection is a year-long tour through a vast history of poetry, and gives the reader a new poem to try every night, with everything from Michael Rosen to Shakespeare to Christina Rosetti. Full review...

The Moon Spun Round: W. B. Yeats for Children by W B Yeats, Noreen Doody and Shona Shirley Macdonald

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William Butler Yeats – take note, kids – the names behind those initials can see you through on many a TV quiz show, so remember them. WB Yeats – take note, parents – for if you're like me you won't ever have considered him for a collection for young readers, if, that is, you'd even considered him whatsoever. This edition is a case somewhat of 'never mind the words, just see that artwork' – but I know you'll want to read on and find out what I make of the text. Full review...

Colin the Cart Horse by Gavin Puckett and Tor Freeman

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Meet Colin. He's a perfectly regular cart horse, carrying the crops, tools and children around the farm. He's happy with a life of labour, resting after his shift is done about three every afternoon, and a life of hay – that is, however, until he wonders what his fellow farm animals are eating. What could be the consequence of him trying out every other farm food on the market? Full review...

Let's Sing and Play by Emily Bolam

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Monkeys are vocal animals and if you walk through the jungle you may hear them scream. Perhaps they have just slid down an elephant's trunk or maybe they are just attempting to sing? Having a child means that you will start to hear the same rhymes over and over again, so if it takes a few cheeky monkeys to teach us a few new ones, I am happy with that. Just don't let them jump on top of my car at the Safari Park. Full review...

Animal Magic by Phil Allcock and Gina Maldonado

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Having read many children's books in recent years I have come to know the concept of nonsense rhymes. I don't mean silly adventures that happen to be written in rhyming couplets; I mean bad rhymes. The best books for sharing should have fluidity to them, the story simply rolls off the tongue as you turn the pages. Too many times I have read a book in which the rhymes just don't scan and you end up tripping over your words. So as this book is part of the Nonsense Animal Rhymes series, does the nonsense come from the story being daft, or because the rhymes are nonsensical? Full review...

The Secret Pirate (Swashbuckle Lil: The Secret Pirate) by Elli Woollard

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School girl Lil is a secret pirate. Her classmates think she's an ordinary girl and assume they're just imagining things when they hear her bag squawk. They don't know that's where she keeps her parrot (whose name is Carrot). Her teacher, Miss Lubber, thinks Lil's naughty and is unaware that Lil's really trying to save the teacher from being kidnapped by the wicked pirate, Stinkbeard. But Lil doesn't mind because she knows the truth – she's a bold and brave pirate and all her adventures are true (at least to her). Full review...

Hendrix the Rocking Horse (Fables from the Stables 2) by Gavin Puckett and Tor Freeman

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Poor Hendrix. He has a nice life and a nice farmer's field, but he's bored. All the excitement of the world is just too far away, except for the time the fairground came to town, complete with Ferris wheel, rides, stilted jugglers and the Tumbling Pebbles playing a gig. He could hear all of their concert – even dancing and prancing around his field as a result. But little did he know what would happen when the lead guitarist's instrument literally fell off the back of their tour bus, and Hendrix had a chance to find the music within… Full review...

Night Monkey, Day Monkey by Julia Donaldson and Lucy Richards

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A night monkey should only be awake in the night. A day monkey should only be awake in the day. They should never have to experience the 'wrong' side of their routine. But what happens when they each in turn wake the other up, and night monkey has to suffer the brightness of day, and the day monkey the spooky life without sunlight? Well this lovely book is what happens – proof positive that despite the old adage, polar opposites can be a twain that can meet – and just about get along perfectly well, thank you. Full review...

Squishy McFluff: Seaside Rescue! by Pip Jones

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Ava and her invisible cat – Squishy McFluff – are off to the seaside for their latest adventure together. They have great fun digging in the sand towards Australia and sitting on the beach eating ice cream. (Although the adults who fall in their hole and the ice cream man may not share their enthusiasm.) Everything is purr-fect until invisible cat Squishy decides to chase an invisible fish. Now it's up to Ava to stage a 'seaside rescue'… Full review...

Now We Are Six by A A Milne and E H Shepard

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We can see the signs in The House at Pooh Corner that Christopher Robin is growing up and now he has school work to do. But he's a lucky little boy as he has Winnie the Pooh to help him. Or is he lucky, given that Winnie is also known as 'the Bear of very little brain'? Actually, Pooh has a message for us in the introduction: he says that he walked through the book one day, looking for his friend Piglet, and sat down on some of the pages by mistake. He hopes that we won't mind. Full review...

When We Were Very Young by A A Milne and E H Shepard

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I've never been fond of poetry: there's something missing in my soul as I cannot see the benefits of saying something in verse form when it could be expressed more simply. I often wish that I was different and just occasionally some verse will touch me: it has happened with Wendy Cope and now with this delightful volume from A A Milne. As I read there was a curious mixture of good memories from childhood (and they were all too rare) and new material which struck a chord. The 'decorations' by E H Shepard didn't do any harm either! Full review...

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore and Max Marshall

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Everyone knows the classic story of the night before Christmas, but as a child I never had it in a standalone book like this and, it seems, I never knew there was quite as much to the tale. If you don't already own a version, this new release is a must buy for the presentation alone. Full review...

I Wish I had a Pirate Hat by Roger Stevens

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I was worried, initially, that all these poems were going to be about pirates. How would Roger Stevens keep the interest going if he was confined to the staple diet of treasure maps and skull and cross bones? In fact there are only three pirate poems but they are the first three and the book cover gives little indication of the variety within. I Wish I had a Pirate Hat contains forty five poems grouped into Fun Time, School Time, Home Time. No poem is longer than a page and there’s sufficient range of form and tone to keep one reading. There’s also sufficient consistency to allow one to drop in at random and with confidence. Full review...

The Hounds of Falsterbo by Jules Nilsson

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In between the beach huts
Where the white sands meet the seas,
The heather meets the sand dunes
And long grasses dance the breeze. Full review...

Bedtime Rhymes by Tony Ross

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It is getting late so it is time to start the bedtime routine; upstairs for a wash, clean your teeth and then into your PJs. Settle into bed and what now? A story perhaps, or some night time nursery rhymes. Is it just me or do many of these bedtime tales feel a lot more sinister than their daytime cousins? Full review...

Playtime Rhymes by Tony Ross

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Great news! Your friends are having a baby! That pretty much means that everybody you know has at least one or two rug rats crawling around the place. It’s all well and good, but how can you possibly come up with another present for a baby? Thankfully, great books and wonderful nursery rhymes are always in fashion – combine the two and you have a gift that you may just want to keep for yourself. Full review...

You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator)

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All life can be in poetry – the hectic schedule of a person forever popping somewhere, the policeman living in a world of bad puns, an uncle who may or not have brought memories of sniper fire back from war. All of life it seems on this evidence can be poetry – football results, memoir, advice to counter bullies. All people in this life can be poets – and the way I reacted to a lot of this collection, perhaps it's just as well. Full review...

My Village: Rhymes from Around the World by Danielle Wright (editor) and Mique Moriuchi (illustrator)

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I'm thinking that of all the kinds of books that have ability to surprise, high up on the list are poetry books. You can generally see the style, idea or genre of a novel from the cover, and beyond a few shocks and twists nothing changes. But take poetry on board, and there are surprises on each page – the concentrated form of the literature surely gives the author more chance to bedazzle, to pull the rug over the readers' eyes and to generally give something the audience didn't expect. And so it is with this book, for while Michael Rosen's introduction spoke to us of nursery rhymes, I had already flicked through and still was not expecting a spread of them. Even when he itemised the various kinds I didn't foresee finding them all on the pages, although that is what I got. Who would have thought that such a small, succinct and varied little volume would have that much capacity to surprise? Full review...

Peacock Pie: A Book of Rhymes by Walter de la Mare

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It was a surprise for me to read online that Walter de la Mare spent so much of his life in and around London – born at least in what is now the borough of Greenwich, passing away in Twickenham. The reason I say this is that out of the copious poems collected here, it's as if cities don't exist. Hardly anything of the subjects is manmade. The concentration is fully on the idyllic and pastoral, and in following on so closely in the footsteps of his debut collection, 'Songs of Childhood' from 1902, still very, very much Victorian. Full review...

The Squickerwonkers by Evangeline Lilly and Johnny Fraser-Allen

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Selma is a young girl who finds a strange attraction on the edge of a fair – a large gypsy caravan-styled contraption, which she enters, alone but for her shiny red balloon. She appears to be alone, until nine marionette puppets suddenly appear on the stage within, and a disembodied voice introduces them all to her. They are the Squickerwonkers, and as we are about to see, they can reveal someone's entire character with the simplest of actions… Full review...

The Illustrated Old Possum by T S Eliot and Nicolas Bentley

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This title is clearly of importance to the house of Faber. To this day their puff mentions it was one of their first childrens' books, after the author sent his publisher's son, his godson, some writings based on jellicle cats and some of their scrapes. It's clearly a book that's important to Andrew Lloyd Webber, too, but we'll gloss speedily over that. It's a book that was important to me as well – I certainly had a copy, a thin, barely illustrated, old-fashioned style paperback of it once I had seen the musical. And with the excellent writing here and the ability of it to delight so many people of so many ages, it has the power to be important to a future generation. Full review...

Nonsense Limericks (Faber Children's Classics) by Edward Lear and Arthur Robins (illustrator)

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There was a young man whose critique
Of this book was submitted one week
When they asked 'Was it fine?'
He said 'No denyin' –
'There's very little here they could tweak!' Full review...

The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear, Charlotte Voake and Julia Donaldson

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This is a poem which has always resonated with me, because there is something about it which is nothing short of magical. It taps into that part of children which still love nursery rhymes, or to pretend they fly to the moon when they go to sleep. This edition is beautifully laid out, and I would happily buy it in a heartbeat. Full review...