Tag Archives: children’s poetry

Children’s Poetry: Joanne Limburg’s Bookside Down

Joanne Limburg    
Joanne Limburg has published two full poetry collections for adults, Femenismo and Paraphernalia, both with Bloodaxe. A pamphlet, The Oxygen Man, was brought out by Five Leaves Press last year. Joanne has also published The Woman Who Thought Too Much, a memoir about OCD, anxiety and poetry. She is currently finishing a novel based on the life of Queen Anne, and beginning a PhD in Life Writing. Bookside Down (Salt Publishing, 2013) is her first book for children.
Bookside Down 
“The poems in Bookside Down (Salt Publishing, 2013) are written about and for 21st Century children, who are into their friends, the TV, Wiis, DS’s, computers, collectibles and things that make them laugh. They deal with important matters such as difficult schoolmates, daft parents, impossible siblings, the last days of the dinosaurs and the death of planet earth. In this book you will find rhyming poems, non-rhyming poems, poems that are conversations and poems that tell stories. You could read them to yourself, read them aloud, or even use them as patterns to write your own poems.”
“Joanne Limburg’s funny and tender Bookside Down sees things deliciously from the children’s point of view. The poems are set in the worlds children inhabit: the home, the playground, school, pocket money, TV and friendship. With a natural story-teller’s timing, a poet’s ear and a splendid eye for both detail and fantasy Limburg leads us through the jokes and puzzles of a childhood all children will recognise.”

– George Szirtes
Dad, Dad, is this my lunch?
And are you having your lunch too?
And are we going out after lunch?
Are we going into town after lunch?
And are we going on the bus?
And can I have my pocket money?
And can I buy a comic with my pocket money?
And can we take the bus back?
And can I ask you something else?
Will you always say yes now?
The Sort of Boy
There’s always the sort of boy
who has to get in first

who says he knows
whatever you know already,
he’s known it for ages

who got whatever you just got
three weeks ago

or says there’s a better one just out
and he’s getting it with his Dad

who has to decide who’s playing
and what they’re going to play

and if it’s Harry Potter,
he’s always Harry Potter.
The Prefix Lesson
Let’s see if you’ve been listening.
Can you give me something that begins with ‘anti-‘?

Anti Julie lives in London.

Not quite what I was looking for.
Let’s try another, ‘un-‘.

Un-cle Ian lives there too.

OK. Never mind. Have another go.
How about … ‘pre-‘?

Pre … tty soon they’re coming to visit?

Oh dear. We’ll try one more.
Now think carefully: ‘dis-‘

Dis … dis …..
dis isn’t going very well, is it?
Family Swimming Time
I think I might just watch today.
But you’ve got your costume on.

The water feels too cold.
But you’ve only put your toe in.
It’s splashing on my face now.
So what? You’re wearing goggles.

I don’t like the big boys jumping in.
It’s OK. We’ll move away.

I think I might get out now.
You’ve only just got in.
Well don’t leave me on my own!
But I want to have a swim.

I don’t like it when I can’t see you!
But I can swim—don’t worry.

I know you can, but I can’t!
Then just stay in the shallow end.

I don’t like it in the water!
Mum, I know you don’t, but you’ll be fine.
Butterfly and Crocodile
At swimming once,
I went to turn from front to back
and just kept turning,
just kept turning,
turning over,
over and over,
till the swimming teacher said,
‘What are you doing?’
and I said, I’m a crocodile.
This is the death roll
that crocodiles do
to tear their prey apart.’

‘OK’, she said,
‘You need to work on your butterfly now—
though I must say
your crocodile
is really coming on.’
The Potatoes My Dad Cooks
Let me now praise the potatoes my Dad cooks
     for truly they are epic;

for they come from the oven smelling so sweet,
     their smell delights my nostrils

and when they sit steaming in their dish,
     their crispy coatings delight my eyes

and when I take one up and bite it,
     the coating breaks with a crunch

and when I chew that mouthful,
     the mouthful delights my tongue

and then it delights my throat,
     and then, oh then it warms my insides,

for truly the potatoes of my Dad are epic.
     The potatoes of his enemies will fail.
From Bookside Down (Salt Publishing, 2013).

Order Bookside Down.

Visit Joanne’s website.

Poetry for children and the young at heart

Angela Topping draws her inspiration for her children’s poems from her bookish childhood full of make-believe and fairy stories, her work with children, both as a poet-in-schools and an English teacher, and as a mother of two lovely daughters, now grown up. The New Generation (Salt, 2010) is her first collection for children, however, she is the author of three poetry collections for adults. She is also known for her educational resources, critical books and as a reviewer.

Angela Topping

“A lively collection that will capture the interest and imagination of young readers.”
– John Foster
“To quote one of her poems “It’s kids stuff – but I like it”. Except it isn’t just for kids. Rich in language, tone, style and voice, the variety of subjects that matter ensure that adults and children alike will find much to delight in.”
– Paul Cookson
“Among the whimsy that sometimes passes for children’s poetry, Angela Topping’s new book stands out. It is witty and technically inventive. Like most of the best poetry, it stands at a slight angle to the world.”
– Fred Sedgwick
Aunt Jane
Angela Topping
My Auntie Jane is a funny old stick:
She’s been alive for ever.
She likes to wear a long black dress,
a hat with a raven’s feather.
Her skin is pale like marble,
her teeth are gleaming white,
her eyes are hard to fathom
She’ll go out only at night.
She chooses crimson lipstick,
pointed shoes upon her feet,
her hair is swept up high.
I’ve never seen her eat.
I’m not allowed to visit her
without my mum and dad:
she has some quaint old habits:
my friends think she is mad.
Her house is quaintly spooky.
It’s old fashioned, dark and cold.
She hugs me very tightly,
I can’t escape her hold.
She always keeps the curtains drawn
and does not like the light,
there’s not a mirror to be seen
for she claims she looks a sight.
She tells me how she loves me
She’ll eat me up, she cries,
What pointed teeth my auntie has
What terrifying eyes!
My parents say it’s time to go
And wrap me in my coat
They take such special care to tie
my scarf around my throat.
They say Aunt Jane’s eccentric
and is better left alone
with her spooky castle of a house,
her bed carved out of stone.
Angela Topping

He was a tall black Arab,
She was five years old,
the first black person
she had ever seen.
It was love at first sight.
He was big and gentle,
sat her on his knee,
called her a little lady,
taught her strange new facts.
His list of continents began with Africa.
They were always together.
In his home he was a teacher.
She loved his beautiful skin,
his soft curly hair.
Now she knew the world differently.
Walking in the garden
she only reached his knee,
Her small hand resting
in his huge strong fist.
He sent her postcards for years.
Only later did she know
how her father had
defended him from
people in the street.
How could anyone not love
Nasr Hassan Abbas?
His very name was a poem.
A shelter from any storm.
Now she knew the world differently.
from The New Generation (Salt,2010)
Visit Salt Kids, the home for children’s poetry.
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Visit Angela’s website.