When Poems Fall from the Sky

When Poems Fall from the Sky
Zara Weil, Illustrated by Junli Song
ZaZa Kids

During the past year and a half a great many of us have found that walking in nature has both uplifted and calmed us: when we’ve so badly needed a boost, nature has been there for us inviting us to slow right down or stop and let the flora and fauna work their magic. As we read this treasure of a book, Zara Weil reminds us of those sights and sounds and introduces the joys of many others in this mix of poems, rhymes, haiku, raps, story poems and short plays, that were inspired by Kew Gardens where the poet spent time fairly recently; and having worked in the Kew herbarium on a gap year I can totally understand how Kew made her feel.

It’s clear that the poet observes with all her senses as she gently nudges and occasionally urges readers to see things differently, to discover new ways to look, feel and listen. She helps us to fine tune our ears to the various voices of nature that she has heard including that of a Butterfly’s Song, various birds such as a nightingale, and the Jay that acts its part along with Oak in That’s what friends are for – what delight this would give children taking on those roles in a read aloud, and a wonderful learning experience too.

The same is true of another ‘Mother Nature Production’ Oh Happy Day – a fig and wasp play that is a celebration of the amazing pollination partnership between wasps and fig trees.

It’s impossible to choose an utmost favourite in this collection but as a life-long lover of trees I was struck by the way Zaro captures their wonder and their ability to hold memories in Tree’s Story; ‘for who else still breathing / has been a part of long ago / who else / holds it written in / rings of memory / for anyone to read / in the far future ‘ – in those lines too (and throughout) is a reminder of our interconnectedness.

For its sheer exuberance and sheer delight in playful language, I absolutely relished Bug Parade with its ten quintillion minibeasts – ‘They whizzed by all zipping / glittering then flittering / diving and gliding / whoops sometimes colliding’. Brilliant!

Certainly a poem to make you laugh and perhaps, dance; but there are also poems to move you within, others to make you care and to think deeply.

Surely though, every one is a demonstration of the fact that in nature there is SO much to cherish and to wonder at; it’s as though nature itself has been given voice herein to give hope, to guide us ever to watch, to listen and to remember our role as guardians and stewards of our awesome planet.

Thoughtfully and beautifully illustrated by Junli Song, this is a must have book to cherish and return to over and over.

Cherry Moon

Cherry Moon
Zaro Weil, illustrated by Junli Song
ZaZaKids Books

I was over the moon (cherry and otherwise) to receive a copy of Zaro Weil’s latest poetry book. It’s subtitled ‘Little Poems Big Ideas Mindful of Nature’.

Little in length, some might be, but little in impact? – definitely not; not even the very shortest haikus.

It’s nigh on impossible to choose favourites from the round about 100 offerings so I’ll start with one – Story Time Orchestra – that in essence for me sums up this entire collection:
a story time orchestra / lives inside my book / and when I open / to my favourite part // everyone starts to play’.

Play is what Zaro does in her writing –she plays with ideas, plays with words, plays with language and plays with nature itself, painting wonderful word pictures in the mind. Try reading the tongue twisting ‘Preposterous penguins’, an elaborate alliterative poem that beings thus: ’thousands / of preposterously pensive penguins / pause to participate / in a particularly polar poetry pageant’.

Many poems are interpreted through Junli Song’s stylish, almost stylised illustrations.

Unsurprisingly the elements feature in a fair few of the poems: I’ll never walk again along the muddy cycle track behind my home in the rain without thinking of ‘Mudpuddling Tonight’ that portrays so perfectly the experience of welly walking near Stroud on a rainy evening; and it will certainly help lift the spirits:
mudpuddling tonight / sloshgurgling / all the way home through / a well-shined slipstream of / a million and one raindrops / lit by / a million and one moondots’.

This is assuredly a terrific collection and one to encourage readers, young and not so young, to open wide their eyes and sharpen all their senses to the wonderful world of nature waiting to be discovered in the great outdoors from early morning to late at night and all through the seasons.

Enchantment through and through.