Selected by Ella Risbridger
Illustrations by Anna Shepeta
For ages 6+
[Ad – Review Copy] *
Reviewing a book of over 100 poems was never going to be a breeze! However, I have to say I've had the best time doing it! This is the third in the Nosy Crow series of their big and beautiful poetry anthologies (see below for links) and it is a glorious celebration of female poetry writing. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book, as the breathtaking cover artwork by Anna Shepeta caught my eye months ago!
I first came across this anthology's curator, author Ella Risbridger, last year due to the success of her first kids middle grade book 'The Secret Detectives' (also published by Nosy Crow). It really feels as though Ella has put her heart and soul into bringing together such a carefully considered collection of poems and writers. I very much enjoyed reading her introduction and afterword where the reader will find much encouragement for equality and acceptance of women (including those who identify as female) and the much-needed level pegging of poetry along side fiction and non-fiction literature.
About the book
The absolutely stunning artwork leaps out at you from the bookshelf and the end papers are filled with carefully considered doodles representing many of the 'characters' from within the book. Hang on, I haven't even read any poetry yet and I'm already wow-ed! Illustrator, Anna Shepeta is to be applauded (loudly)! Her illustrations are simply stunning, beautiful, captivating, magical, worldly and as such so intelligently and thoughtfully compliment each poem. As with many children's picture books, this is absolutely the sum parts of the curator, the poems and the illustrations.
Author, Ella Risbridger has researched and brought together an incredible anthology of poems. Within her introduction, she tells us of the origin of her love of poetry after her beloved Granny had shared a poetry book with her when she was a young child. Ella breaks down the purpose of creating an anthology of poems written only by women, girls (some as young as 5 years old) and one non-binary writer. She sheds light on the theory that many poems written by 'Anon' or 'Anonymous' in times past were most likely written by women - I had never considered this! She goes on to paint a picture of the oppression of women and their creative talents, and especially their lack of equal rights to men. Ella admits the concept of this book is obviously a biassed collection in favour of the female sex or to those writers who feel their gender is more alighted to being female; she justifies this for the simple reason that throughout history men have been paid 'lots more attention' and 'that's not fair'!
Readers are treated to poems by familiar and lesser known writers, some of whom I am already such a huge fan of. The book's first poem is '93 Percent Stardust' by Nikita Gill, a contemporary British-Indian poet. As a DJ might have to find the perfect track to get everyone onto the dance floor, this is our metaphorical 'banger' to kick off the poetry party!! Nikita Gill's words are absolutely a pure delight as a segue way to remind the reader that men, women, and 'everyone in-between' are to be treated equally.
Within the 141 pages of this very special book are poems you are asked to read very quickly ('Comet' by Kate Wakeling), or sing to a popular nursery rhyme tune ('Sing a Song of People' by Lois Lenski), ones about school ('Getting Ready for School' by Caryl Brahms or 'Mrs Hamilton's Register' by Carol Ann Duffy); there are poems by young children about God, and poems to interact with ('How to Eat a Poem' by Eve Merriam). You'll find poems about Rosa Parks, Boudicca, Harriet Tubman, colonisation, slavery, star gazing, the weather, the seasons, colours, the ocean, climate change, animals and more!! There are very short poems, and some longer ones for story times.
What really amazes me, is that with some of the poems together with the illustrations, I can almost smell the past, others I can imagine the future or others make me feel heavily grounded on my feet here in the present. The sparkling magic of poetry.
Would you like to know my personal favourites?
Good!! In no particular order...
‘Stars and Dandelions’ by Mitsuzu Kaneko
‘Granny Granny Please Comb My Hair’ by Grace Nichols
‘Auntie Lucille’ by Victoria Adukwei Bulley
‘Sometimes, Change is One Girl’ by Elisabeth Hewer
‘Selkie’ by Rachel Plummer
‘Two Old Women’ by Anna ‘Swir’
‘Everyday Things’ by Jean Ayer
‘Keep a Poem in Your Pocket’ by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
‘The Female Highwayman’ by Anonymous
‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me' by Maya Angelou
'And Everything Will Be Glad to See You' also features an afterword by Ella Risbridger. She encourages readers to follow in her footsteps and adore poetry, to re-read poems again and again, and find something new each time, and to even make anthologies of their own. Taking poetry as a filter for art and personal expression, readers are encouraged what they love about a poem they have read, who wrote it, why, why did it strike a chord... Wonderful! You'll also find a very useful index of the poems, writers and first lines at the very back, which is great.
What more can I say? Although this is a more pricey kids book, it's worth every penny. Why? This book is timeless, a celebration of female poetry writers, appealing to the young and less-young reader, supports the development of expression and imagination, is empowering, and it's beautiful on your shelf. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
About the creators
Ella Risbridger (author of the introduction and selected the poems)
Ella Risbridger is a writer from London. Her first cook book, Midnight Chicken (& Other Recipes Worth Living For), was named a Book Of The Year 2019 by half a dozen different publications, including The Times, The Daily Mail, and The Observer. Her debut children's middle grade book, The Secret Detectives, published in 2021.
Anna Shepeta (illustrator)
Anna Shepeta is an illustrator, painter, and ceramicist. Anna enjoys portraying strong female characters and the fighting spirit! When she’s not creating magical art, Anna likes to bake rainbow biscuits and watch detective series. And she really likes making to-do lists.
Grab a copy
Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...
Publication date: 1 September 2022
More in this series:
'Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! - An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year: National Trust' selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup (2020, Nosy Crow)
'I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree - A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year: National Trust' selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (2018, Nosy Crow)
*My review copy was provided by the publisher.
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