Cloud Soup is a poetry collection I have been eagerly anticipating and now it is in my hands I am delighted that it not only lives up to expectations but surpasses them. Kate Wakeling and Elīna Braslina’s Moon Juice first drew my attention to Kate’s ability to draw on taut rhythm and neat alliteration as well as skilfully composed word play which made those poems a delight to read aloud and perform. Cloud Soup is just as good. This is a poet at the height of her powers whose love of language and rhythms combine to dazzling effect. Elīna Braslina’s illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to the poems. From the opening poem, ‘Other Names for Rain’, it is clear we are in the hand of a master with names such as ‘eyelash rincer’ ‘hair hassler’ and ‘pavement artist who will only draw circles’. The storytelling of ‘Mr Mangle’s Beard’ is concise and hilarious. ‘Cloud Song’ uses the white space on the page to great effect. ‘I am looking at this painting called Blue Circus by Marc Chagall’ made me seek out the artwork and I thought about how children would enjoy reading the poem and visualising the painting before it is revealed. The poems contain a range which vary in style, tone and subject matter. There are poems which will relate to everyday experiences as well as those which will transport the reader to other worlds.
The poems range from those that will make the reader laugh out loud to poems which give voice to difficult emotions. ‘Grandma and the Sea’ is particularly poignant and wise. This review could literally consist of a list every poem and why I love it but it would be far too long! Instead do get yourself a copy. I promise you won’t regret it. This collection has everything – poems to get discussion flowing, poems just to love for the sound of the words, poems to inspire writing. It is the best kind of book. I would recommend it for Upper Key Stage Two classrooms but some poems would be suitable for younger age groups depending on their maturity levels.
Kate’s words sum up the collection best: “It’s a collection that I hope tickles lots of different parts of the brain all at once and that passes on something of the total and constant joy I find in fiddling about with words. It is at once a very playful and very serious celebration of the imagination – as something that can take us to new territories while also uncovering unexpected qualities in the world around us”
Read Kate Wakeling’s Blog about the connections between poetry, music and reading.
Moon Juice is included in Just Imagine’s Take One Book resource.
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