Get your kids into poetry with these newly award-nominated collections

Mr Mistoffelees the Conjuring Cat

Mr Mistoffelees the Conjuring Cat - Credit: Archant

It’s rhyme time for young poetry fans, says Kate Agnew of Muswell Hill Children’s Bookshop.

The Centre for Literature in Primary Education has recently announced the shortlist for its prestigious Poetry Award and at the Children’s Bookshop we were especially delighted to see that one of the shortlisted titles has a strong local connection. Not only is Give the Ball to the Poet a rich anthology of absorbing poetry from Caribbean poets, it also features glorious artwork by acclaimed local illustrator Jane Ray. Edited by Georgie Howell, Aisha Spencer and Morag Styles, the poems hum with life as they dance through the islands, whether celebrating great sporting triumphs, singing hymns of praise to extraordinary relatives or basking in the atmospheric land and seascapes of these magnificent islands. Jane’s Ray’s evocative artwork uses an accomplished range of media, in hues redolent of warmth and carnival, limpid seas and glimmering skies, to conjure up the flavours and feel of these intriguing islands.

On the shortlist for the second time is the 2012 winner Rachel Rooney. Her collection, My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems, offers a fresh, sideways look at the world, exploring its quirks and its oddities, its ups and its downs, in a witty collection of cleverly crafted, gently thought-provoking poems. We particularly liked the nursery rhyme adverts section which includes the laugh-out-loud gem Property for Sale:

Two houses up for sale

One stick, one straw

Both self-assembly

See pig next door.

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It did occur to us that, property prices being as they are in the Ham and High area, the third little pig might just get a few locals knocking on his door…

Meanwhile, looking beyond the CLPE Shortlist, younger readers, and the adults eager to read poetry with them, will welcome a new picture book edition of T.S. Eliot’s Mr Mistoffelees, The Conjuring Cat. The entertaining artwork by Arthur Robbins sees Mr Mistoffelees triumphantly brandishing a wand while mystified dogs, anxious rabbits and bemused chickens look on perplexed at his array of tricks. But the best magic of all comes right at the end when Mr Mistoffelees somehow, extraordinarily, out of nowhere it seems, produces seven little kittens!

We don’t yet know which of the shortlisted titles will be pulled out of the CLPE judge’s hat when the award is announced at The National Theatre in July but, looking at the rich range of poetry books currently available for young readers, we can be confident there are treats in store for everyone.