Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Laura Mucha, illustrated by Victoria Jane Wheeler
I’ve tended to use picture books to open up discussions about feelings in the classroom, especially with younger children but now this, subtitled “Poems about Thoughts, Worries and Feelings’ is a superb anthology of poems by three accomplished contemporary poets that would definitely work equally well with children from KS1 up.
Speaking directly to youngsters are almost fifty poems focussing on the topics that they care deeply about and unless they have opportunities to talk about how they feel about say, loss or sadness, feelings of isolation can be the result.
One way to counteract such feelings is to take a walk in nature as Matt suggests in Forest Song: ‘there is music in the forest / every leaf a different note / as the wind -conducted branches / play the tune the raindrops wrote // so, walk beneath the canopy / and know that you belong / to the purest ancient melody / as forest sings its song’. I’m sure those words will resonate with all of us after everything that’s happened during the past year when so many of us have found comfort in the natural world.
Another of Matt’s poems talks about those awful butterflies that are the result of first day nerves and how one understanding teacher, Mr Mawhinney made all the difference.
Books are one of my first go to comfort places and Liz’s In the Heart of a Book speaks to the power of story; Here’s part of it : ‘ I found myself a story / with a place in me to store it // I found myself a wide, new world / so set off to explore it //… I found a pool of sadness / and the strength to manage it // … I found place to rest my head // while my worries unplug / I found a curl of comfort / where each word was a hug // … I found a pair of magic wings / and flew into the light’
Feeling alone in your sadness? What better place to visit than Laura’s The Land of the Blue to know that feeling sad is OK. The final verse says this: ‘Across the valley it waits for you,/ a place they call The Land of Blue / and going there will help you know / how others feel when they are low.’
Sometimes there’s nothing better than the kindness of a Friend as Laura shows here:
Discovering your own kindness within and sharing it with others is equally powerful as the final words in Liz’s Kindness acknowledges ‘and where you give it grows and grows / until one day it overflows ‘
Finally (although I could go on talking about every poem in this book) in Bottled Up Laura highlights how crucial it is to be able to open up about whatever it is that’s troubling you …
Very much in tune with the feelings the three poets have written of are the quirky black and white illustrations by new illustrator Victoria Jane Wheeler; and the book concludes with a note from developmental psychologist Dr Karen Goodall that includes some suggestions as to how an adult might open up a discussion.
A special book that I strongly recommend for both school and home collections.