BOOK REVIEW – HELĘN THOMAS – WE ARE POETS! 2008 Mucus Art Press.

 

A lively, lovely and very funny collection of children’s verse in the spirit of Edward Lear and Roald Dahl, among others.  Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories may well be an influence on Why Fruit Bats Must Always Eat Fruit. Modern rap influences Anytown School Superstars Rap. This one cleverly lets the kids insert the name of their own school without ruining the flow of the verse – song in the process. Helęn, an established poet, visited several schools to read the poems out live – a real treat for the kids – I have seen the author in performance and to encourage the pupils to have a go at writing their own poetry. It was obviously a very successful project as teachers have told Helęn that some of the children have never stopped writing poetry since. There are dream poems about looking forward to holidays and seeing the world (Let’s Globe Trot) and irreverent looks at the aspects of school life few of us ever enjoy (I hate tests). If I have a favourite poem here it’s My Baby Brother, in which the narrator wishes she had a pet dog instead.

 

Though there is just one author, the poems have two distinctive personalities – Penelope Page, who writes about nice pleasant things such as ice cream (Vanilla Villanelle) in a posh voice, and Gabby Mouth, who writes about being sick on public transport and leaving others to take the blame for it (Why you won’t See Me Travelling by Bus), how some kids can’t control their bodily functions (Burping Beryl) and the way some of us just can’t keep neat and tidy (Dirt Magnet). In school performances, teacher Kate McGann often assisted Helen.

 

There are limericks, and structured poems as well as verse that just play with the joys of rhyme and alliteration. The book comes with tremendous cartoon illustrations provided by Paul Neads.

For more about Mucus art Books and magazines see www.mucusart.co.uk/press.htm

 

For more about We Are Poets! See www.creativewomensnetwork.co.uk/CWNWeArePoets.htm

 

Arthur Chappell

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