Poems To Fall In Love With
chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell
Macmillan Children’s Books
I’d already fallen in love with a good number of the poems Chris Riddell has included in this superb collection, but finding them here is still as much a joy as discovering the unfamiliar ones he’s chosen.
One of the latter in the first section Love and Friendship is Neil Gaiman’s Locks, inspired by the story of the Three Bears. It begins and ends, ‘We owe it to each other to tell stories.’ Powerful and very moving it was written by Gaiman for his then very young daughter.
Another new one to delight me was A.F.Harrold’s Postcards From The Hedgehog. The prickly writer is Simon and in his second card he writes this: ‘Dear Mum, / Lovely weather today. / I saw a really pretty girl. / Not sure how to approach her. / She makes me really shy / but just all warm inside. / I rolled up into a ball. / Wish you were here. / love Simon.‘
Two cards later we hear how Simon made his approach and what happened. It’s wonderfully droll and really made me laugh.
Another long time favourite of mine, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, is included in the section Let’s Stick Together; I think no collection of poems of love poetry is complete without this one that begins ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediment. Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove:’
This is followed by the less likely The Owl and the Pussy Cat that I’ve adored since my father first started reading to me from a collection of Lear’s nonsense verse even before I started school.
This is a wonderfully eclectic collection of old and new: you’ll find John Donne, Emily Bronte, Blake, Betjeman, Grace Nichols, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, Sylvia Plath, Derek Walcott, even the compiler himself .
Jan Dean’s Tomorrow when you will not wake left me with a huge lump in my throat; Christina Rossetti’s Remember, also in the final section, always has the same effect.
I could continue talking of the delights herein but instead will conclude by mentioning another of my all time favourites, E.E. Cummings’ i carry your heart with me that’s part of Valentine
(Wendy Cope’s poem of that name opens this section).
There’s passion, joy and heartbreak: you’ll shed tears of joy and tears of sadness and you cannot but be wowed by Riddell’s awesome black and white illustrations that make you see anew every single poem, however familiar.
Offering something for all moods, it’s a treasure of a book: I’ve certainly fallen for it.