A package landed in our big, black mailbox here in the steamy state


                                       “where the alligator wallows”

                                                         -Sue Hardy-Dawson


That perfect line appears with the other perfect lines of a poem from this crisp new book,

which flew to me in recent weeks from the land where a poet for children could name

an exquisite piece of discovery,


“St. Ninian’s Isle, Shetland, 1958”

-Chrissie Gittins


The book is LET IN THE STARS, New Poetry for Children, edited by Mandy Coe.


Skin prickles

I am still first-reading and re-reading through, skipping around. Although every poet &

poem isn’t in my pores yet, I want to be your tip-off to this prize collection.

Cramming for a book festival out of town & with reading/writing ahead of it in the queue, I report on this book without looking up the authors or artists to know more about them. Not important. Skin prickles tickle my arm as I read LET IN THE STARS; this make me feel it will add multitudes of pleasure to any reader or writer’s bookshelf.

Just like big Puffin collections such as Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry, Twentieth-Century Collection of Verse and the equally valuable Oxford Book of Poetry For Children, brought me to children’s poets of the UK beyond Spike Milligan, A.A. Milne & Roald Dahl, (some of the latter would be Benjamin Zephaniah, Jackie Kay, & John Agard, for starters) this 86-page small & potent volume is not only entertaining, but also a sky bridge to a galaxy of poets new to me. I am telling myself I was smart to order it:


An extra snap

There is an extra snap in each of these pieces. The black and white spot art and color illustrations also convey the respect afforded the young readers. This tone is set with opener poem, “High Achievers,” by Kate O’Neill, taking place during a steep climb and that zip continues for 78 contributions to the closing 3 couplets from Matt Goodfellow in “With the Waterfalls,” which makes me feel I’m reading Robert Louis Stevenson. A mighty fine collection, this is.

“Cycle” follows a child who is inventively relentless about continuing a journey that begins on a bicycle of seven wheels:

“…I’ll travel on a chestnut mule

            When the mule begins to tire

            I’ll tiptoe on a tight wire

            When the wire starts to snap

            I’ll go by tube and mind the gap…”

                                    – Hannah Meiklejohn, from “Cycle”


            “End of the Day” in short order sums up:

“…the sea slops

in the moon’s bucket

the sun’s penny drops.

– Anthony Watts

That is a moment I’ve seen but haven’t been able to write.


Crocodiles to poignant hills

I feel the aim is to please readers ages nine and up, but the voracious page turner age seven and eight will chuckle and jolt with recognition about besting the low expectations of grown-ups. Even younger students can enjoy having read to them several long or short pieces, including, “Invitation,” by Louise Greig about a crocodile, and “Little Red Bug,” from Sneha Susan Shibu.

Louise Greig also contributed poignant pieces, including, “I am going off to be a hill,” producing skin prickles. Greig returns me to the buttercup, daisy & sheep that will never line up like that again. Prickly loveliness, that poem.

I know quite well, one of the non-UK poets here. New poets writing for children all over the world via the WWW could submit their works for a contest that turned into this book and so not every contributor is from the UK. It was published by The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

When I am done absorbing every poem, I hope I am forgiven if my friend- poet’s pieces are my favorite. I will share about those three pieces in a separate future post.

For now, let the collection sing us out with a few lines from a clever riddle, “lol” by Heather F. Reid

             Lots of laughs,

            lots of love,

            lots of librarians,

            linger over lunch?

                        -Heather F. Reid



Letters of light, this collection is.

The online collection of bloggers known as POETRY Friday is sent well on its way today by Robyn Campbell.




12 responses to “books: LET IN THE STARS”

  1. Remember when memorizing poetry was part of every childhood? Poetry is life concentrated. It is rhythmic like dancing and captures the vivid moment like a butterfly lighting on a flower.


    • It’s better than you may think, Adrian. Be ye of good cheer about this one.

      Through Poetry Friday, an online meet- up of children’s teachers & writers in the Kidlitosphere, who love poetry, I know that teachers (& you know who you are out there) are aces about sharing their love of poetry with students. Their young poets memorize & present poems – not only their own, but from the canon for young readers. So take heart, it happens. One of my favorite teachers where I volunteer reading picture books with BookPALS has her 2nd grade learn poems by heart. I am cheered about this.


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