Rodoula Pappa and Seng Soun Ratanavanh
In the company of a small child we experience the seasons’ riches through a sequence of twenty haiku-like poems. Rodoula Pappa’s words are as if spoken by said child, whose activities we follow starting with Spring: ’Beautiful day! / Teach me, too, how to fly, / mother swallow.’ are illustrated in Seng Soun Ratanavanh’s richly patterned scenes beautifully crafted as if from Japanese washi paper.
There’s much to enjoy no matter the season: Summer offers lush peaches, somnolent-sounding music and ‘Among the reeds, / a new galaxy – / fireflies.’ as well as days by the sea.
Come autumn there’s an abundance of busy chipmunks and dahlias bloom prolifically and its time for the wild geese to travel.
With winter soft snow falls and there are preparations for Christmas, while ‘In the rock’s crack, / deep green, full of light – / winter blossom.’
There’s a feeling of serenity about the entire book; it’s as though the words are asking us to slow down, stand and stare, imbibing the beauty of the natural world so wonderfully depicted, no matter what time of year.
What a lovely starting point for children’s own seasonal reflections this book would make in a primary classroom.
Take Off Your Brave
Nadim, illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail
The Russian writer, storyteller and poet Kornei Chukovsky talked of young children as ‘linguistic geniuses’ playful and creative users of language and this book of poems by four year old, Nadim is a wonderful demonstration of this.
Responding to prompts from his mother, with the initial guidance of poetry teacher, Kate Clanchy (who has written an insightful foreword to this book) the little boy shared his thoughts about a variety of things from his feelings on returning home from nursery school, his best friend,
his mum, doing something scary, his wish. To read each of these is to share in something of how a four or five year old sees the world (something that I as a nursery and reception teacher for many years particularly enjoy); there’s no attempt at emulating adult poetry, rather, this is a child’s voice capturing those moments of happiness, joy, love, loneliness, peacefulness, togetherness, hopes, fears and dreams.
‘You always have sad moments / Happy moments / Nice moments / Angry moments // And when you smush those moments together / They make a great feeling / Called: / ABRACADABRADOCUOUS.’
And rest assured everyone has indestructible love to share for ‘Baddies love their baddie friends / Even very baddie ones. // Nothing can make love disappear / Not spells / Not magic / Not mermaids / Not anything. … ‘
Accompanied by Yasmeen Ismail’s illustrations – who better to capture young children being themselves – this is a lovely demonstration that poetry is for everybody.