Review: Poems to Fall In Love With. Chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell.
Has any subject been written about more than love? It is one of the fundamental human experiences, and if the poems in this anthology prove anything, it is that love is timeless.
The poems are categorised by different types of love. This was one of the reasons I took to the anthology straight away. It recognises that love without romance, and that friendship, are equally profound and important. This is an exploration of love in different forms, and this variety makes it richer than some other anthologies of love poetry.
Chris Riddell’s illustrations need no introduction. As a past Children’s Laureate and a long-time political cartoonist, his work is known far and wide. The pictures in this anthology are in his trademark style. They look so effortless, yet convey a huge amount of energy and detail. When I took the book to my local poetry group (a twice-monthly meeting which involves cake and chatter and the reading of any poems we fancy) a number of people went home eager to do some drawing of their own. This is the very best thing about Riddell’s work. It gives viewers the bug to doodle. To scribble. To draw.
Poems included range from the modern-day through to Sappho. My poetry group fell in love with the story of Simon the hedgehog, who writes postcards to his mother through a particularly intense crush. Alas, the crush is ill-fated, although Simon comes out happy and well. It is also a treat to see Riddell’s take on classic poetry.
With too many people willing to say they don’t like poetry, as if every poem is alike, it is more important than ever to have books that are irresistible to pick up. Poems To Fall In Love With hits that mark, from its embossed purple cover to the beautiful work inside. This is truly a celebration of the range of voices that have, over the centuries, explored themes of love and friendship.
Poems To Fall In Love With is available now from Macmillan Children’s Books.
Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for my review copy.
I am the seed
that grew the tree
that gave the wood
to make the page
to fill the book
(From Windsong by Judith Nicholls.)
This beautiful collection contains 366 nature poems – one for every day of the year. Every double-page spread is illustrated with pictures of nature. This is beautifully designed and was clearly thought out with love for the subject.
The introductory letter explains how Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow publishers was gifted a volume of poetry as a child. Although she read and reread the book for years to come, the lack of illustrations meant that her initial reaction was not one of enthusiasm. I Am The Seed … is designed to be attractive to the very youngest readers. Its illustrations are bright, bold and take up every single space. Gone are the terrifying pages of black and white. This is a book to pour over. To enjoy. To share.
The length of the poems, too, has clearly been considered. The inclusion of many short poems – some five or six lines long – and poems with short lines makes this collection perfect for newly confident readers.
I often wish I could recapture the magic of reading poems as a child. I didn’t know my modern poets from my Romantics. My haiku from my free verse. I read without discrimination and judged only on the sound. On the experience of reading and being read to. I Am The Seed… is designed to promote such an experience. There is nothing to tell the reader the date or origin of the poem. This allows the reader to pick their favourites free from ideas about what they ‘should’ enjoy.
To have 366 poems on one theme is special. Flick through the book and something special happens – you’re reading about animals and skies. The sea and the woodland and the stars. A picture of the world builds in the reader’s head. A picture which promotes love and respect for the natural world. The pictures add to this experience and it is possible to browse the book for illustration alone.
Whether you read one poem a day or pour through the anthology, this is bound to be a lovely experience. A beautiful anthology which will be treasured by those lucky enough to read it.
Thanks to Nosy Crow for my copy of I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree. Opinions my own.