James Carter’s school visits have taken him, and his guitar, to over 1,200 primary schools in Britain over the last fourteen years. This collection, his twelfth, positively fizzes with energy, and suggests what a dynamic performer he must be in the classroom.
In The World’s Greatest Space Cadet Carter experiments with a wide variety of forms, and excels at concrete poetry – ‘Aha!’ is formed in the shape of a lightbulb, ‘Spider’ is the silhouette of the insect suspended from a cobweb filament, and ‘Brown Owl’ is just that – its large round eyes formed by bold capital Os. He plays with fonts, makes acrostics, and irresistibly stretches language to its full potential, while always avoiding the pitfalls of the lazy rhyme.
The collection consists of much more than pyrotechnics, though, and features some quietly profound lyric poems, such as ‘Wild!’ – a economically achieved musing on the role of nature in contemporary lives; and ‘Between the Dog and the Wolf’, which is one of a number of adaptations of fables from Aesop. He also has a moving prose poem, ‘Grandad, after the War’, which speculates about his maternal grandfather’s experience in the trenches.
Illustrator Ed Boxall is also a performer and educator, and his charming black and white prints and illustrations are a perfect foil for Carter’s words. This is a strong collection at a good price, and would make an excellent addition to your growing collection of poetry books for children.