If I was shipwrecked on a desert island and could only have one book of poetry, it would be this one. – Roger Stevens
from the Introduction
by David Harmer
I was a lucky boy because I grew up in a house full of books and poetry with grown-ups who read to me. I started reading and writing poems and stories then and I haven’t stopped. I remember when I was about nine, I learned ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ and ‘Jabberwocky’ (by Lewis Carrol) and performed them to the class. I chose those two because they were funny, using fantastic words and telling strange stories. I was always a bit of a show-off and I still love reading poems to people.
There were very few poems for children around in The Olden Days, but now there are loads of wonderful poetry books to enjoy. I think poems are clever lists that turn ordinary things into magical things, so if I look at a school yard I might think, ‘What if a space ship full of slimy aliens landed here right now? What if my table came to life as a huge monster? Is my best mate really a robot?’ Then I decide what kind of poem I need to write to tell that story. Sometimes poems ask serious questions, sometimes they just rock and roll along with loads of rhymes and bounce. Others are twisty and tiny, some don’t rhyme at all and some make different shapes. I love them all.
When I’m asked for tips on becoming a writer what I always say is this: read a lot of books and write a lot of poems. Then, read them to your friends and to the grown-ups too. Have fun doing it! Poems are there to make your words dance and sing, to make them thoughtful, to make them change the world around you. Make some of your own, stand up and shout them out as loudly as you can!
About David Harmer
David Harmer is best known as a children’s writer. He began working in primary schools in 1973. For quite a while he was a class teacher and then a headteacher but he spent many happy years visiting schools, festivals, universities, front rooms and theatres all over the country, working with children and grown-ups too. Sometimes he was with his friend Paul Cookson in their popular performance duo Spill The Beans. During this time he has published ten poetry collections and his work has appeared in over 130 anthologies for children.
About Ted Schofield
Ted started drawing as a boy by copying cartoons. Later, he learned to draw and paint things he could see in the world around him. Ted still paints pictures on canvas but he loves drawing from imagination, often inspired by something funny, and usually on an iPad.
After completing a degree in Fine Art he became an art teacher and then took another degree, this time in illustration. He loves playing the cello, singing in a choir, reading and talking about books, cooking (and eating even more).