Chicken on the Roof

Poetry, profundity and high comedy combine in this brilliant book of sparkling poems from Matt Goodfellow. The absurdity of chickens stuck on rooftops, hedgehogs wincing through the backstroke, talking baked bean tins, a cat relieving itself in a grandparent’s beard, reflections on loss, the passage of time, the importance of place, and the grandeur of nature all happily cohabit here, forming a collection which can raise a loud laugh or prompt a quiet tear.

Goodfellow’s writing style is disarmingly simple, showing no quibbles about opting for simple rhyme schemes and structural forms, but such features belie the depth of feeling and wealth of descriptive expression which each poem packs. The poems reach for richly evocative images and descriptions with deceptive ease, communicating about issues which children and adults feel and face. This is where the genius of Chicken on the Roof lies – not once does the poet patronise his reader, but he also isn’t trying to impress – these are real poems about real things, and fantastic poems about imagined things.

Each poem is boldly and beautifully illustrated by Hannah Asen, whose black-and-white cartoon style nicely offsets and complements the quiet self-confidence of the collection. Children will find a poetic friend in Chicken on the Roof, adults will find themselves laughing out loud in spite of themselves, and teachers will turn to these wonderful poems time and time again to the delight of their pupils. Highly recommended.