Top Texts for May 2023

Dr Julie Blake has selected a wonderful collection of poems great for sharing aloud

Cloud Soup

by Kate Wakeling & illustrated by Elina Braslina 

I quip that I came to poetry aged 7 when my junior school teacher threw me out of the school choir. I can’t sing a note to this day but I always hear the music of a poem, sound definitely coming before sense, and Kate Wakeling’s poems for children delight my ears. A musician and musicologist as well as a poet, the poems in Cloud Soup ‘sing’ off the page – and that makes them great for sharing and performing aloud. Check out her own performance of an earlier poem ‘Comet’ on YouTube – it’s a meteroic effervescence of tongue-twisting language to have fun with.

This Rock, That Rock: Poems between you me and the moon

by Dom Conlon & illustrated by Viviane Schwarz

Single-authored collections of children’s poems commonly offer a smorgasbord of tasty poetic treats on all kinds of subjects. This one is different: its single subject is the moon and in Dom Conlon’s master-craftsman hands, we explore the moon anew, in a dozen different dimensions. In poems that are as varied as they are beautiful, we discover the truth of ‘you, me and the moon’. This is very fine children’s poetry indeed: quietly elegant, witty, humane and full of curious details that children love. It’s one to share aloud and keep coming back to, the poems and striking black and white illustrations endlessly inviting us on imaginative journeys beyond ourselves.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!

Chosen by Fiona Waters & Illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright is a big handsome book of poems. It’s stuffed full of treasure: 366 poems, judiciously selected to encompass all kinds of animal life; many different poetic shapes, sizes and forms; and poets classic and contemporary, famous, familiar and less well known. It’s a beautiful book too, a hefty hardbook for a library table or classroom sharing, with gorgeous illustrations that complement the poems and invite journeys of wonder and discovery. The fashionable sub-title invites us to explore a poem a day but, honestly, we couldn’t be that disciplined. Why have one poem when you could have three?…

Julie Blake

About this month's reviewer

Dr Julie Blake, FEA, FRSL(Hon), co-directs Poetry By Heart, the national poetry speaking competition for schools. She researches and writes about the history of poetry for children, and creates digital and print anthologies of poems for children and young people.

Poetry By Heart is open now. Visit the website for information or email