How do you celebrate Ireland’s best-selling children’s poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice? Will you be my friend? is an extraordinary anthology of over one hundred of Fitzmaurice’s poems from thirteen collections, and includes another twenty-six new poems for his well versed fans.
The richness of language, while still being accessible to a child reader, is perhaps Fitzmaurice’s greatest achievement as a poet. The voice, as in so much of his poetry, is that of the child: naive, innocent, naughty or curious. It resonates through many of the pieces and is easily found by young readers. It relates so vividly to the concrete experience of childhood that it is not surprising that the work of Fitzmaurice melds seamlessly into poetry lessons of teachers up and down the country. Each poem is an episode in its own right, from friendships, bathroom incidents, loss of a pet or a grandparent, to his newer work on loss of a young sibling, and the things that only a child would notice.
The poems are interspersed with the art of Karen Vaughan, which adds a spirited visual description to what is already a smorgasbord of childhood delights. Dipping into such a treasury is like revisiting your own youth; each poem rekindling personal memories; universal in theme and yet individual in story. An essential addition to any bookshelf.
A child that reads Fitzmaurice will be a child that loves poetry.