Courage Out Loud

Courage Out Loud
Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett
Wide Eyed Editions

Following on from Poems Aloud and Smile Out Loud is this cracking new collaboration between children’s laureate Joseph Coelho and illustrator Daniel Gray-Barnett – 25 poems of power.

Joseph uses a variety of poetic forms and structures including sestinas, rondels, pantoums and limericks, to explore being brave and facing one’s fears whatever they are. Addressing the reader directly he introduces each poem with a few lines about the kind of poem it is and how it relates to an idea, emotion or feeling.

Some of them relate to Joseph’s own experiences. The opener, Diving is one such, telling how the poet felt when jumping from a high diving board for the very first time: inner courage was certainly needed then. I love the fairytale references he uses ‘The diving board is up there , / a beanstalk above me, / a Rapunzel tower height, / a giant’s hairline high.’ and the poem goes on to mention ‘witches in my fingers’, ‘the crunch of poisoned apples’ and ends thus: ‘we’ve got the magic beans, / we’ve stolen the golden egg, / we’ve just arrived at Grandma’s house.’

Have a Little Cry is an important reminder to readers how even a little cry can make us feel better for as the introduction and final line say, ‘there is courage in every tear’.

Courage is required too when speaking out in front of an audience, in this instance, it’s being asked to read your story to the entire class ‘The classroom is a swamp / mud oozing around my legs. / The only way is forward.’ Does that sound like something you’ve experienced? Will You Read? certainly resonates with me.

So does Rollercoasters wherein young Mabel is a very reluctant rider on the rollercoaster; unlike her though I’ve never managed to overcome my fear of pretty much any fairground ride. In such instances I always used my right and my power of Saying No, responding ‘ “no” I don’t feel like doing that thing / and that’s the end of that.’

As well as reading the poems, with a reminder of poetry’s power to communicate their feelings, Joseph encourages children to create some of their own using similar structures or styles, and then to perform them aloud. (tips are given for this.)
Assuredly youngsters will find lots to connect with in these poems, the mood of each being perfectly captured in Daniel Gray-Barnett’s accompanying inclusive illustrations. Our current children’s laureate has a mission to help children enjoy poetry and use it as a tool for their own creativity: Courage Out Loud will assuredly encourage that whether shared in the classroom or read at home.

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