Fifty poems of fifty words each on subjects ranging from family to nature, offering hope and humour, wisdom and insight are gathered together in this clever debut collection. A Passing On Of Shells would be wonderful for use in schools and with its embossed hardback cover and stunning illustrations by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell it would also be a special gift to treasure.
This week saw the publication of research carried out by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) and Macmillan Children’s Books learning about the place of poetry in primary schools. Among the findings was the observation that 88% of the teachers questioned say that children enjoy engaging with poetry however 79% of classroom book corners have fewer than ten poetry books in their book selection. A Passing On Of Shells would be a welcome addition to any classroom book corner.
The book opens aptly with a poem titled How to Start an Adventure and Simon Lamb then guides his readers through a series of poems about the writing process itself, a wry look at families and relationships, quiet observations about nature, funny poems and thoughtful poems about everyday life and growing up. There is a lovely balance of styles which gives this book an added appeal and invites children to have a go at writing their own. You Make Me So ACROSTIC made me smile as it will many teachers reading it I imagine. I particularly liked Still Earth which reminded me of quiet country walks, “ Just air and light and calm and earth. And in the absence of the words; birds.”
Chris Riddell’s interpretations of each poem are wonderful, as one would expect, and add an extra dimension to the reading experience. The Three Legged Race, a thought provoking exploration of team work, is accompanied by Riddell’s illustrations of a tortoise and a hare. I loved this reworking of the familiar and it is one that may well prompt children to think about this much loved fable in a different way too. Links such as these can be found throughout Simon Lamb’s ingenious collection and ensures that this book will be revisited often by both children and adults.
A Passing on of Shells was published in February by Scallywag Press to mark the launch of their new poetry list, Scallywag Poetry and with further collections by other poets and illustrators planned we have much to look forward to. I should like to thank Scallywag Press and Laura Smythe for providing my review copy.
If you would like to find out more about the poet Simon Lamb you may like to watch this video below created by Scallywag Press.
If you are looking for other books to add to your poetry collection I can also recommend When Poems Fall From the Sky by Zaro Weil illustrated by Junli Song and for slightly older readers For Every One by Jason Reynolds.
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