Newest Children's Rhymes and Verse Reviews

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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...

Seen and Not Heard by Katie May Green

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During the day the eight children of Shiverhawk Hall are seen and not heard for they are images captured on canvas. 'Don’t they look so sweet and good, so well behaved like children should?' They certainly look a picture, picked out in the silvery moonlight. As night sets in and all is quiet, only the black cat and a handful of mice are there to see the portraits come to life and step out of their frames. What mischief can these children from across the ages make? Full review...

Over the Hills and Far Away by Elizabeth Hammill (Editor)

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I’m a bit picky on behalf of my toddler. See the word ‘Treasury’ and I expect him to be treated to a volume he will want to pass on to his own children. Anything less and I am disappointed. I’m relieved to get one thing straight from the start. This one’s a gem - a gorgeous joy of a book that you will just want to keep opening again and again. It’s not a question of whether it is worthy of hypothetical grandchildren, it’s more a question of how well thumbed it will be when they get it. Full review...

What A Wonderful World by Bob Thiele, George David Weiss and Tim Hopgood

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What a Wonderful World is a book and accompanying CD set based on the Louis Armstrong song. In fact it is the book and CD of that song as it’s not a new story or a padded out version of the original, it’s simply an illustrated version of the lyrics. Full review...

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Britta Teckentrup

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You know the song already, but this peep-through book recreates the magic of the Twelve Days of Christmas in a beautiful and special way. Full review...

The Oxford Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Sarah Williams and Karen King

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When it comes to nursery rhymes, what you learn at your Mother’s knee as a baby is gospel. Recently I have expanded my repertoire courtesy of Cheshire libraries excellent rhyme time activities, but at heart I still can't quite come to terms with the librarian saying 'washed the spider out as opposed to my mum’s washed poor Incey out'. Sadly, Williams’ and King’s compendium The Oxford Treasury of Nursery Rhymes doesn’t take my Mum’s side in this. Full review...

Mad About Mega Beasts! by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz (Illustrator)

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When I was small I was fascinated with things that were big; big buildings, big vehicles, big animals. However, I have recently learnt that there is a size that is bigger than big – mega. What beasts, both from now and from the past, are large enough to achieve this accolade and be welcomed into the hallowed pages of this book? Full review...

A is Amazing!: Poems about Feelings by Wendy Cooling and Piet Grobler

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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. Full review...