Reviews /

Poetry Prompts

Authored by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Georgie Birkett, Grasya Oliyko, Amanda Quartey and Viola Wang
Published by Quarto Publishing PLC

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Poetry Prompts from Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, is a wonderful book that really celebrates the art of poetry and words. Large format, brightly coloured and illustrated throughout, it really is joyful book, rather like Joseph himself. Alongside the charity Booktrust, Joseph has been running these poetry prompts throughout his laureateship. This book brings together lots of these for children to dip in and out of.

In all there are 41 prompts, some very simple and some more complex. In the introduction Joseph tells us ‘You may not realise it but you are a poet’ and that ‘There is no right or wrong in a poem, it’s up to you whether you use rhyme, don’t use rhyme…these prompts are here to help you’. Prompt 1 shows us how to make a notebook of your own in which to write the poems you are going to create. Simple, clear and informative instructions shown in a fun way. Fun is the key word throughout the prompts. There is no preaching here just encouragement to have a go and see what happens.

Each prompt is fully illustrated in a fun and colourful way by a team of illustrators. I particularly liked the illustration for the Poetry Power Up from prompt 12, Ways to describe colour, encouraging you to read aloud poems written about colour and see if your friend or classmate can guess the colour you have chosen. The illustration is a little girl dressed as a firecracker.

Prompt 13 is about similes. It shows a hamster crawling through a maze of tunnels all around the page, with a simple straightforward child friendly description of what a simile is and how you can use it. Prompt 33 introduces us to Renga poems, a new one for me. Joseph tells us they are over 700 years old and originated in Japan. They are written in a group with each person adding a stanza linked to the one above. A great way of working together and producing longer poems.

All the prompts use a nice clear font and although lots of the pages are very busy this information still remains clear and concise. This allows the child to work at their own pace using the prompts on each page. The book is jam packed with information covering everything a young poet needs. There is so much to read and so much to see visually. This is really a wonderful book and if I were a Key Stage 2 teacher I would be making sure I had it in my classroom or library and for parents who are a little nervous of poetry it is a great aide memoire for that poetry homework.

A total joy.

Longlisted for the Jhalek Prize 2024