I’m a huge fan of A.F. Harrold’s stories but I also enjoy his wild and wacky poems too. His latest collection of poems, The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice, illustrated with flair by Mini Grey, is one of the coolest poetry collections ever!
The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice is packed full of exactly that – advice of all kinds that may or may not be useful. Did you know, for example, that you should never serve soup to a cat, never put a rock in a roll, don’t put mustard on a dog, don’t kiss anything with a hiss, and don’t use an octopus for a hat? You’ll learn about the general dangers of broccoli, how to help yourself to cheer up, how to dance like a poet, and what makes a bad belt. There is advice to make you laugh, cringe, ponder, or just go ‘huh?’
I absolutely love this book! A.F. Harrold and Mini Grey have created a gorgeous book that begs you to pick it up. The title alone is intriguing and makes you wonder what advice you might find inside. When you open the covers you find a collection of silly, absurd, funny, and thoughtful poems that kids of all ages (and adults) will love. The book is split into different sections, with titles like ‘Advice mainly relating to animals, giants and the natural world,’ and ‘Advice mainly relating to school life, onions and general-knowledge-type stuff.’ The book is illustrated throughout by Mini Grey whose illustrations are bright and full of silliness. I especially love her illustration of mini-A.F. Harrold who keeps popping up in poems throughout the book.
There are so many poems that I loved in this collection. ‘Inside’ perfectly captures the feeling of being lost in a book, ‘Silences’ is about appreciating the silence around us, and ‘Say something nice’ is about taking the time to say something nice to those around us. A.F. Harrold has also created The Advice-a-Tron 216 which is designed to give you some ready-at-hand advice when someone asks you for some. There are three columns, with a beginning, a middle and an end to choose. You just have a to roll a six-sided dice three times to come up with your advice. It might be ‘Always squeeze a banana’ or ‘If lost point at a man called Greg.’ There is even a blank Advice-a-Tron 216 in the back of the book that you can photocopy and fill in with your own suggestions. This would be a really fun activity to do in class.
The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice is a must-have addition to every school library poetry collection but would also make a wonderful gift for children of all ages. It will be a poetry book that will be enjoyed again and again.
The days are getting warmer and it’s starting to feel like Summer is just around the corner. When you think of a Kiwi summer you think of days at the beach, hokey pokey ice cream, pohutukawa trees, jandals and lots of family time. New Zealand stories and poems that encapsulate a Kiwi summer have been gathered together in a gorgeous new collection by Puffin.
Summer Days is a gorgeous collection of New Zealand stories and poems that the whole family will enjoy. Authors, illustrators and their stories have been carefully selected to showcase our Kiwi summer. Inside these bright covers you’ll find stories from Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, Pamela Allen, Sandra Morris and Dot Meharry, interspersed with poems by Peter Bland, Fiona Farrell and James K. Baxter. Each story and poem is beautifully illustrated by some of our best illustrators including Gavin Bishop, Jenny Cooper and David Elliot.
So much attention has been paid to the production of the collection. It’s hardcover, with a summery design that is stamped into the cover, the page edges are bright yellow, and it has a ribbon bookmark. My favourite part of the design though is the ice cream endpapers. It’s just one of those books that anyone would be happy to get. It leaps off the shelf and begs you to take it home.
Summer Days is the perfect collection for the whole family as there are stories for everyone. Get a copy for your family this Christmas and spend the summer reading it again and again.
There are lots of picture books around that deal with feelings. They help young children to understand their feelings and relate them to different situations. I recently discovered a New Zealand book that I think is one of the best for helping explain feelings to children. It is called Feel A Little: Little poems about big feelings, written by Jenny Palmer and illustrated by Evie Kemp.
Feel A Little is a book full of poems for children that help to explain different emotions. There are poems about Happy and Sad, Angry and Confused, but also poems about Silly, Nervous, Curious and Shy. Each emotion has a double page spread and is explained in a short poem on one page and an illustration on the other. Confident, for example has a poem that starts, ‘Sometimes you feel small inside, too awkward to be you. But other days you strut, you smile, you let the you shine through,’ and is accompanied by a colourful, smiling blob shape that shines bright.
I love, love, LOVE this book! It is a wonderful little book that I think all parents and teachers need to own and should be in all school libraries. It’s a great book to have on hand whenever you need to help a child understand how they are feeling. Each of the poems and illustrations perfectly captures the emotions and explains them in a way that children will be able to understand. The poems are a joy to read aloud and the illustrations are fun. It’s the sort of book that I could see teachers using with young children, getting the children to create their own pictures of emotions or even act out the emotions.
Go out and get a copy of Feel A Little and tell any parents, teachers and librarians you know about it.
Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell have teamed up to publish a collection of wonderful poems for young children, called A Great Big Cuddle. It’s a big, beautiful book full of Michael Rosen’s poems and illustrated by Chris Riddell. It’s out now from Walker Books.
Check out these great videos of Michael Rosen performing some of his poems from A Great Big Cuddle. I love his poems but seeing him perform them is terrific. He’s got a fascinating face that is incredibly animated when he performs.