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Poetry Books with a Theme

Under the Moon and Over the Sea
edited by John Agard and Grace Nickols
(Barefoot Books)
Illustrated in vibrant colours, this anthology of Caribbean poetry includes everything from traditional rhymes to poems so modern that this is their first publication. The collection covers such a wide range of subjects and styles that everyone is sure to find something in here for them.
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Welcome to the World
compiled by Nikki Siegen-Smith
(Barefoot Books)
This is a collection of poetry about babies from about the world. Beautifully capturing the emotions of birth and parenting, it shows that those feelings are universal and independent of race and creed. Illustrated with large black and white photographs, it's a book to treasure and a lovely gift for a family with a new arrival.
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Poems about Fire
Poems about Air
Poems about Water
Poems about Earth

Compiled by Andrew Fusek Peters
(Evans)
These four books form a set called The Elements in Poetry. Andrew Fusek Peters has included a wide range of poems that interpret the themes in many ways. For example, Air includes poems on balloons, wind and flight while Fire includes volcanoes and the sun. Beautifully presented in hardback with full colour photographs, these books are a pleasure to read and would be a useful addition to the school or home library.
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Rhymes and Riddles to Rattle your Reason
Illustrated by Verity Richards
(Marion Boyars)
Thought provoking but not too hard, the riddles in this collection are for children from 4 to around 8. Clever use of layout puts each riddle on a right hand page so you turn over to find the answer on the following left hand one. This combines with the bright, colourful illustrations to produce a book sure to tempt children to delve into its pages.
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Tongue Twisters to Tangle your Tongue
illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
These are great fun for children of all ages who'll enjoy tempting friends and parents to tie their tongues in knots. Some are only one sentence long but short doesn't necessarily mean easy. Others are longer. After reading both verses of Betty Botter had some butter out loud, I'd completely muddled my betters, butters and botters. Illustrated in full colour, this collection is well worth a try with reluctant readers and great to use in a group, provided you don't mind lots of laughter.
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All the Colours of the Earth
by Wendy Cooling, illustrated by Sheila Moxley
(Frances Lincoln)
This anthology features 31 poems from around the world including the one from which it takes its title, In many cases, these are arranged in pairs on the same theme with one from the UK or USA and one from elsewhere. For instance, Robert Louis Stephenson's Where go the Boats is paired with a poem about paper boats from India and an American poem about a supermarket is paired with one from Jamaica about fruits in the market. This technique helps to highlight the similarities between people from different countries and makes the book a useful resource for the classroom as well as an enjoyable addition to a home bookshelf.
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Peace begins With Me
collected by Jill Bennet
(Oxford University Press)
A small paperback full of very moving and thought-provoking poetry; ranging from Celtic Blessings to Navajo Songs, and from poets such as Siegfried Sassoon to Michael Rosen. Poems dealing with conflict of every type sit alongside those offering messages of hope and peace. The few simple black and white illustrations compliment it perfectly. This book would be ideal for classroom and assembly and also useful in a place of worship, for children of 6 years and upwards.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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Around the Year
compiled by John Foster, illustrated by Carol Thompson
(Oxford University Press)
With colours that simply jump out at you and some easy to follow rhymes, children as young as 3 years will appreciate this book being read to them. The book celebrates seasons and special days enjoyed throughout the year, making it a very useful addition to the classroom as well as making a perfect gift for the 5 - 6 year old to read.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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Fangtastic Football Poems
compiled by John Foster, illustrated by Korky Paul
(Oxford University Press)
A fun book for the football crazy with loads of zany, detailed illustrations to add to the mayhem. Some new poems are introduced alongside favourites such as The Anaconder Wanderers by Brian Moses and The Commentator by Gareth Owen - which is a must to read aloud. 7 years +
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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My First Oxford Book of Animal Poems
edited by John Foster
(Oxford University Press)
This collection of over 90 animal poems - both traditional and modern - has a nice fresh feel to it. I particularly like the way it is divided into sections, such as 'Across the Field and in the Woods', 'In Nooks and Crannies and Under the Ground' and 'Beside the Sea Beneath the Waves', with just about every creature included. A book 6-8 year olds will return to again and again.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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Family Poems
compiled by Jennifer Curry, illustrated by Sarah Nayler
(Scholastic -Young Hippo)
This book reminds me of a hectic house full of quirky relatives, doing all the things children will relate to. From 'Leaky Baby' to 'Stepmothers', from 'Give Up Slimming, Mum' to 'Until Gran Died'. Over 80 poems with bold, black and white illustrations. A book to encourage children to read, with some of the poems being ideal to use as a model for their own humorous writing. 7 - 9year olds.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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The Red and White Spotted Handkerchief
by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Peter Bailey
(Scholastic)
Three delightful stories unfold in this collection of poems which are weaved together in such a way as to combine a variety of pace and style to ensure the reader enjoys each individual journey. The black and white line drawings add plenty of interest along the way. An eye-catching red and white spotted jacket wraps up this A good book to read to lower KS2. Equally a satisfying bedtime read.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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Come to the Carnival
chosen by John Foster
(Oxford University Press)
A collection of 25 poems celebrating various festivals and cultures from around the world. Plenty of good rhythms and sounds for the young to listen for here. 4 - 6 years
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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A Poem for Everyone -
A Treasury of Poems About People
collected by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark
(Oxford University Press)
Many of the poems in this book will have a lasting impression. Rich in imagery and honesty, this is the sort of poetry that leaves the reader thinking. Over 100 poems here, some funny, some sad, by a wide range of poets. Illustrations in black and white with an attractive coloured jacket. Most suited to the 9 years and upwards.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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Pet Poems
by John Foster and Korky Paul
(Oxford University Press)
This book is full of wacky pets and the kind of detailed and subversive pictures that will delight boys of 9 years and upward. Some of the poems in this collection are new, others are not but they combine with the large page size and Korky Paul's illustrations to give this book a 'fresh' feel.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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The Oxford Treasury of Time Poems
edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clarke
(Oxford University Press)
This is a beautifully illustrated anthology, full of thought provoking poetry to suit everyone's taste and mood. There are well-known poems alongside new poems and together they consider every aspect of Time. A book you can keep dipping into for all time and one which will appeal to adults as well as children of 9 and over.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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The Blue and Green Ark: An Alphabet for Planet Earth
by Brian Patten
(Scholastic)
This is one long poem for the planet earth where each letter of the alphabet is weaved into a verse which evokes an image of our world and beyond. The illustrations are the work of ten artists and are breathtaking. This is a book for adults and older children who have scrubbed their hands first!
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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The Phantom's Fang-tastic Show
by Wes Magee, illustrated by Leo Broadley
(Oxford University Press)
This book is 60 pages of werewolves, poltergeists and ghosts - in fact every 'horror poem to haunt your days and nights'. It includes both short verse and longer story poems. illustrated with black and white pictures which add to its creepy feel. Not for young readers or the easily spooked.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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I'm in a Mood Today
collected by John Foster
(Oxford University Press)
In a way, the title doesn't do justice to this collection of 71 poems about 'the way you feel'. It contains plenty of good, sensitive poetry about growing-up to which children of 8 years upwards will be able to relate. The simple but expressive black and white line drawings compliment the book perfectly.
(reviewed by Eve Jackson)
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