Newest Children's Rhymes and Verse Reviews

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A Treasury of Songs by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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Some people have all the skills, not only is Julia Donaldson one of the most successful children's authors, she can also carry a tune. For the past few years she has adapted many of her most popular stories into songs and plays them during open readings, or releases them as part of a song book. For the first time A Treasury of Songs brings together several of her books in one omnibus and it also has a CD too of Donaldson singing the songs. Full review...

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson was a very versatile writer; he delved deep into the human psyche when he wrote The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde but he did not restrict himself to representations of the gothic and the persecuted. He also wrote brilliant children's adventure stories such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, but, again, he did not restrict himself to prose writing because here he demonstrates his ability to write poetry. Full review...

Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes

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Now, whatever our age, there are probably a few books that we have all encountered at some point in our childhoods. They have stood the test of time to such an extent that they have become a piece of our culture common to so many of us, and are known throughout the world. One of them is by Rudyard Kipling, who brought a child's sense of wonder and his own Victorian absurdist set of explanations to play in a dozen examples of warm whimsy. In shrugging off evolution he got to convey how the rhino skin is so ill-fitting and rumpled, how the whale learnt he cannot eat humans, and how the elephant got such a thing as his trunk. In doing so he entertained his young daughter, not knowing she would die as a child long before he produced a book-length collection – and way before he saw something into print that has lasted ever since. Just in case these tales are not for your young audience yet (and it won't be long, trust me), you can start them in early with this lovely and bright adaptation. Full review...

I'm Just No Good At Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris and Lane Smith

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In the sniffy world of literary poetry, people seem to be able to knock together a dozen verses and get an audience of twenty people to buy a pamphlet, and they call themselves published authors. You get a similar thing at times with poetry for the young – most poetry books, after all, have a lot more blank space in them than routine volumes, and people compile their best arrays of very few words in between two covers and bingo, they have a book, and twenty minutes later bingo, you've read it. That's most certainly not the case here, for this is crammed with what has to be considered a major outpouring of wit and rhyme. And whatever age you are, and whatever experience with verse you may have, this will not seem to you like someone's first book of poetry. Full review...

Fish Dream of Trees by Axel Scheffler, Frantz Wittkamp and Roger McGough

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Dragons don't bite – ask them to pose for a photo and they burst into a grin. Owls don't bite you, either – unless it's the one in the zoo cage you thought was friendly. And while we're on that subject, be careful about man-eating plants – they're never friendly given the chance of finding you alone. Such lessons are rife across these pages, in a singularly odd – and oddly fun – selection of four-line verses for the young, of any age. Full review...

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...