Reviews /

Miracles

Authored by Connor Allen
Illustrated by Amy Moody
Published by Lucent Dreaming

Miracles: Connor Allen’s debut collection of poetry for children is another example of how exciting and vibrant Welsh children’s literature is at the current time. This collection places children’s voices right at the centre of the text as he devotes one whole section to poems written by children. Allen begins part II of the collection by stating ‘During my tenure as Children’s Laureate my whole aim has been to empower children across Wales to consider themselves miracles.’ If anyone has happened to have been lucky enough to read or watch Connor Allen perform The Making of a Monster, his YA performance poem about his own experiences growing up in Newport as a mixed-race teenager who felt ‘not enough’ then they will already be aware of the powerful feeling of hope that runs throughout his work. This new collection, for much younger readers, is no exception to this, it is a celebration of children’s voices, as it empowers them to be hopeful for their futures while importantly not dismissing their potentially very real fears for it.

The poems in the first section chart the challenges that we all face, particularly in terms of climate, but the focus remains on the potential that we have to change things when we work together and believe in ourselves. As the opening poem ‘Knock Knock’ states ‘Because/ Each and every one of us has magic/Contained within us/ To hope and dream of a better future is a must.’ It concludes neatly by inviting readers to open the door as they turn further into the collection ‘There’s/ strength/Dreams/ Creativity/And so much more/ And it’s waiting for each and every one of you/ Behind that door.’ Section one also concludes cleverly with ‘Knock Knock: Grans’ door’ where Allen reflects on his Jamaican heritage as he tells us that behind the door is ‘…my gran/ With her Jamaican accent, her Afro hair/ It’s her story/ Connected to ancestors before/ It’s understanding/ It’s history/ It’s so much more.’ The third and final section continues to consider the importance of heritage and identity, the poem ‘Black’ stands out, in particular, as one that would inspire insightful classroom debates and further creativity. This final section is very upbeat, with poems reminding children about the importance of lasting friendships (‘Tribe’), that ‘You. Are. Enough.’ (‘You’), and that ‘you are a miracle!’ (‘Miracles’)

This is an important, hopeful and inspirational collection of poetry that all classrooms would benefit from dipping in and out of, planning lessons around and simply sharing the joyful empowerment that the poems promote. The collection is also beautifully illustrated. Please share it and enjoy!