A first Poetry Book

This bumper anthology from Macmillan contains well over 200 poems from 'the very best poets around', and, with its title, big print and cover festooned with chicks and a bunny rabbit, seems at first glance to be aimed at young children. It's divided up into topics such as 'Food', 'Pets', 'Space' and so on, which gives the book a more cohesive quality than might otherwise be the case. The jaunty font of the poem titles is attractive, although there are no illustrations – all the more room for the poems you might argue.

On closer inspection the volume is, as with many other books of its kind, less age-specific than you might think; whilst there are many simply written poems, there are others more sophisticated or even abstruse occasionally. There is a balance between the rhymed and non-rhymed, the humorous and the serious, and there are some shape poems too. If there is material which, putting it politely, is somewhat conventional, there are also poems that are suprising, or tell you something new. This by Celia Warren for instance:

I nearly stepped in something

on the carpet;
retraced my steps till my shoe sank
into a small patch of sunlight.

Now I am walking sunshine
all over the house.

'The Princess's Treasures' by Clare Bevan, 'Footprints' by Roger Stevens and 'Gravity' by Rachel Rooney are other good examples in this vein.

The good thing about this book is that, with its prodigious size, it offers children a copious example of the form, and something which they can explore at length and are bound to find pleasures in. Who knows? in some the book may even inspire a life-long devotion to poetry. Stranger things have happened.