I love receiving surprise book post and when The Big Amazing Poetry Book: 52 weeks of poetry from 52 brilliant poets, chosen by Gaby Morgan and illustrated by Chris Riddell dropped into my parcel box I was utterly delighted. I think I probably need to send enormous thanks to Jo Hardacre for sending me a copy.
Published by Pan Macmillan Children’s Books on 29th September 2022, The Big Amazing Poetry Book is available for purchase here.
The Big Amazing Poetry Book
A brilliant introduction to 52 fantastic poets introduced by Roger McGough and illustrated by Chris Riddell. The Big Amazing Poetry Book is a warm, funny collection snd packed with different styles of poetry – ballads, riddles, tongue-twisters, shape poems, haikus, sonnets and raps – about seasons, festivals, animals, birds, love, war, food, fish and football and much more. There are 7 poems and a biography to showcase each poet and stunning line artwork on every page.
Includes poems from: John Agard, Ruth Awolola, Gerard Benson, James Berry, Clare Bevan, Brian Bilston, Valerie Bloom, Liz Brownlee, Steven Camden, Lewis Carroll, James Carter, Charles Causley, Mandy Coe, Joseph Coelho, Dom Conlon, Paul Cookson, Pie Corbett, Shauna Darling Robertson, Jan Dean, Peter Dixon, Julia Donaldson, Carol Ann Duffy, Eleanor Farjeon, John Foster, Nikita Gill, Chrissie Gittins, Martin Glynn, Matt Goodfellow, Sue Hardy-Dawson, David Harmer, A. F. Harrold, Jenny Joseph, Jackie Kay, Ian McMillan, Wes Magee, Roger McGough, Michaela Morgan, Brian Moses, Laura Mucha, Grace Nichols, David Orme, Gareth Owen, Brian Patten, Rachel Piercey, John Rice, Coral Rumble, Roger Stevens, Nick Toczek, Kate Wakeling, Zaro Weil, Colin West and Kit Wright
My Review of The Big Amazing Poetry Book
Seven poems from each of 52 poets.
I don’t really want to review The Big Amazing Poetry Book because the Foreword by Roger McGough says everything I think about this book so eloquently I can match his words. However, here goes:
I always like to comment on the physical quality of children’s books and The Big Amazing Poetry Book is wonderful. The hardbacked version of the book has thick, robust covers that will endure through much handling in home or school settings and under the already attractive cover are the most wonderful illustrations:
Indeed, the illustrations are simply brilliant. The little reading mice become an iterative image throughout, but Chris Riddell’s drawings add a vibrancy and engagement that I thought quite perfect because the pictures draw in children who might not naturally be engaged by poetry or who might find reading more of a challenge. They are are witty, funny, emotional, creative and a real catalyst to inspire children to be creative and artistic. I truly feel that simply turning the pages of The Big Amazing Poetry Book and taking in the drawings and the shapes of the words on the page is inspirational without even reading the biographies of the 52 poets or their poems.
The Big Amazing Poetry Book would be fantastic to use in schools. Partly this is because of the range and variety of poetry and poets from John Agard to Kit Wright, partly because many poetic techniques are exemplified (such as James Carter’s fabulous shape poem Electric Guitars) so brilliantly and partly because the poems cover such a wide collection of topics that the scope for projects, investigation, discussion and independent writing from factual to creative is infinite. As an example, Ian McMillan’s Ten Things Found in a Shipwrecked Sailor’s Pocket would make a fabulous and accessible template for children to create their own poems.
That said, to identify The Big Amazing Poetry Book‘s contents only as an educational tool is to miss the most important aspects of the collection. It is inclusive, entertaining and hugely enjoyable. Within the pages of the book there is a poem to suit everyone – regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. There are poets here I’d never heard of and poems I hadn’t encountered so that either starting at the beginning of the book, or dipping in and out produces an absolute gem every time. I laughed aloud at Laura Mucha’s Compliments of Shakespeare, for example, and I think any adult might be brought up short by Peter Dixon’s Grown Ups.
The Big Amazing Poetry Book is an utter triumph. Not only do I think every child should have one, I think every home should have a copy too. I thought it was fantastic and recommend it completely. I could not have loved it more. Buy it!
About Gaby Morgan
Gaby Morgan is an associate publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books specialising in poetry, non-fiction and fiction.
Chris Riddell, the 2015-2017 UK Children’s Laureate, is an accomplished artist and the political cartoonist for the Observer. He has enjoyed great acclaim for his books for children. His books have won a number of major prizes, including the 2001, 2004 and 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals. Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2013. His work for Macmillan also includes the bestselling Ottoline books, The Emperor of Absurdia, and, with Paul Stewart, the Muddle Earth books, the Scavenger series and the Blobheads series. Chris has been honoured with an OBE in recognition of his illustration and charity work. He lives in Brighton with his family.