Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon
For ages 5+
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK. I honestly am not one of those people who likes to jump on this 'Day' or that 'Week' as, I don't know if you've ever been on an HR website searching for a calendar of empathy days recently, but pretty much every day of the year is in honour of something. On discovering this, my brain experienced a feeling akin to a 1960s computer trying to run ChatGPT, then I just stopped worrying about it. I'm not alone. This being said. If there's a tie in, and it's relevant and meaningful, feels right etc and I have just the perfect book, I'm in.
If you've been with me for the last year (thank you if you have, I adore you so much!), then you'll know I LOVE poetry. Discovering a new poetry book is just the tonic. Within an anthology of poems for children, as a children's literary consultant, you just know you're going to have some get up and move ones, some silly ones, some tug-at-the-emotion ones and some downright wacky ones!! I love it. Take the poetry lucky dip, I say, it'll brighten up everyone's day!!
About the book
Researching and reading up for this week's KS1 Kids Book Club, I found a newly published (literally the day of book club, 18th May) collection by UK CLiPPA prize-winning poet, Kate Wakeling - accompanied by super engaging, fun and giggly illustrations by Scottish illustrator, Eilidh Muldoon. I sat there at my desk earlier this week thoroughly lost in 'A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop' and by the end of it had marked up nearly the whole book to share with the children - alas, impossible due only a 30 minutes session, but what an absolute joy! I had a lot to look forward to!
This collection of children's poetry has 37 fantastic poems to chose from, and readers are spoilt for choice. In my nod to Mental Health Week, following a chat with the children about mental health and our thoughts on what our understanding of mental health is, how it affects us, I really wanted to start off with a jumpy movey abouty poem. 'How to Bob Like a Robin' was perfect.
We all stood up in a gorgeous sunny spot in the playground garden area and 'ruffled our feathers' ready to become one of my favourite and magical garden birds. We followed the instructions in the stanzas, hopping this way and that, blinking and dreaming about eating juicy worms, then we finished with the very releasing fly away and zoomed around our open space in the beautiful sunshine. Some of the children started to squawk and pince their fingers together over their noses as cute little robin beaks. ADORABLE!!
Next we settled down on the cushions in a circle and I read the title poem 'A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop', whilst displaying the book out so they could see the fab illustrations. We paused and reflected at various points during the poem... especially with the concept that perhaps humans might be the 'pets' if we co-habited with dinosaurs in our time!!
Always a winner in any children's anthology are the guessing-game style riddles. There are two groups of these within this book - one for mini-beasts and the other for sea creatures. Great fun, lovely and loud for shouting out answers and getting very excited about racing to see who can guess it first. I loved that there were different styles of riddles that suited different thinking processes, which meant that all the children had a turn at guessing the right answer first. Really satisfying.
In an effort to contain our buzz, as we were all very full of beans by now, I brought us back to our thinking about Mental Health Week with the poem 'Sad Song'. Decorated with beautiful birds and flowers illustrations, this light, but meaningful poem starts by inviting the reader and listener(s) to become one with the narrator by way of the onomatopoeia flowing through the lyrical text. The important message being that if you're feeling sad, do try to reach out to a friend, talk to them about how you are feeling so that 'a bright new song begins'. Sweet and effective. We had a lovely little chat about how healing it can be to share your sad feelings with a trusted friend or responsible adult.
By this point I was clock watching like crazy, feeling the pressure of getting the children to class on time, and we hadn't even done my activity yet! Eek! I couldn't resist it though... 'This is a Sensible Fart Poem' had to be done!! What a hoot, I passed the book to the children - here you are. You take turns reading one verse each, lets do this!! Reading out loud, together, letting the children learn patience and understanding about their different reading abilities, helping each other, just so important to nurture their super supportive genes this way. Needless to say, it was a riot!! I encourage you to enjoy this with your cheekiest of children, they'll be rolling around the floor, gob-smacked to hear these fart-isms coming out of your mouth in the name of education.
The last poem for the session was 'The Name I Give My Toes'. Finishing up on this short and sweet, free-for-all, rather bonkers, imaginative poetic list of toe names led me nicely onto my book-based creative activity!
I hope you do get a chance to get hold of a copy of this lovely book. Whenever I announce we're doing a poetry session, I always get a resounding cheer of approval. I hope you do too, and have loads of good times as a result. The title doesn't lie, you really do have fun with these poems!
Shoes off, socks off! With this book-based activity I wanted the children to draw round one of their feet (or if preferred, draw a foot freehand). It was creative-thinking toe-naming time and what fun we had trying to come up with the most out there names and believe me I was fairly surprised and even confused by some of their choices, it was hilarious!! Even some of the toe-names featured the Year 1 and 2 obvious go-to for anything silly - 'poo'!! We had some vibrant nail polish and some bizarre fart clouds coming from a few of the heels (obviously highly influenced by the fart poem)... Mission accomplished, I reckon!!
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About the creators
Kate Wakeling (author)
Kate Wakeling grew up in Yorkshire and Birmingham. Her first collection of children’s poems, Moon Juice, won the CLiPPA Prize in 2017 and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her second, Cloud Soup, was a Book of the Month in the Guardian and the Scotsman and shortlisted for the 2022 CLiPPA. Kate has performed her poems at Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank Centre and the Cheltenham Literature Festival among others, and she loves running workshops in primary schools. Kate also writes for adults and a pamphlet of her poetry, The Rainbow Faults, is published by
The Rialto. She lives in Oxford.
Eilidh Muldoon (illustrator)
Eilidh Muldoon grew up on the Scottish coast at North Berwick, and has an MFA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art, where she now teaches part-time in the illustration department. She was artist in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2019, and the Fringe by the Sea Festival in 2021. She wrote and illustrated the picture book Snooze! and An Art Adventure around the National Galleries of Scotland. She runs frequent illustration and book-making workshops in schools, and never goes anywhere without her sketchbook. She lives near Edinburgh.
Grab a copy
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Publication date: 18 May 2023
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