Continuing with the theme of what visiting bloggers like about children’s poetry, I am delighted to welcome fellow author Sandy Fussell to my blog. Not only is Sandy a friend, but she also had a new book published this month, as well as helping me out (twice) to launch Toppling – first here on the blog, and also at lastweek’s All Saints Literature Festival. Welcome Sandy. Over to you.
I feel like a bit of a fraud talking about this because the bulk of my exposure to children’s poetry has been traditional collections of ‘Australian poetry’, bush poets like C J Dennis, or poems here and there in the NSW School Magazines. I couldn’t write a children’s poem if I tried – and I know that’s true because I did try. I produced the worst five lines ever about turtles.
But while I don’t have a lot of concentrated personal experience with children’s poetry (and I’m working on remedying that), I still know what I like best. I like how I’ve seen children responding to it. Poetry reaches out on a number of levels – story, words, rhythm and perhaps rhyme. To me, children’s poetry begins with picture book texts – the wonderful read-aloud rollick-along stories of Pamela Allen and my new recent favourite, Claire Saxby’s There Was an Old Sailor. I’ve done a number of readings to preschoolers lately and they hang on every word, predicting the story as much from the rhyme and expectation as from the illustration. Children’s poetry is music to little ears, except with words instead of notes.
My other experience of children’s poetry is a growing love of verse novels. It began when I was given a copy of Stephen Herrick’s Cold Skin and continues on with Sally Murphy’s Pearl Verses the World being one of my favourite reads for 2009. Verse novels are ‘in your face’, almost like a stream of consciousness conversation between reader and writer. So it’s no surprise that they often deal with very confronting issues. Toppling introduces the issue of childhood cancer in a way that all children can relate to – whether they have known a cancer sufferer or not.
Children find verse novels easy to read. Unlike a lot of adult poetry, children’s poetry is more accessible to all its potential readers. So while personally I am still on a learning curve with children’s poetry, what I really like about it is… that children love it.
Thanks for dropping by Sandy.
You can visit Sandy online at her website.