A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant
Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior (eds)
128pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
A boat of stars came down tonight
and sailed around my bed –
it sprinkled stardust on my eyes,
put dreams inside my head…
Poetry, with its vocabulary, rhythm and sometimes rhyme, and its nuances that are the sounds of our spoken language is a critical part of helping our young readers not only learn to speak but also to fire their imaginations and create dreams. Sadly, though, it has been a long time since we have had a new anthology of children’s poems that is appealing enough to attract the eyes and ears of our younger generation and so, to them, poems have become something you dissect for structure and syllables and struggle to emulate, missing the magic and meaning in the poet’s words.
In this new collection put together by Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior because,like many parents and teachers, they struggled to find something that would engage, many of Australia’s renowned writers and illustrators have plied their craft with words and media to bring a joyful, diverse, and thoroughly engaging posse of poems that will re-ignite the beauty of the format and have children feeling satisfied that despite the brevity, they have visited a new place, thought new thoughts and heard a story.
With topics ranging from zucchinis to giraffes to balls and beyond, each one is different in topic and structure and each reaches out to the everyday lives of our children, drawing them into something they are familiar with but told in a brand new way. Something as common as a new baby coming into the family is given a whole new spin by Sophie Masson and Julie Vivas; as ordinary as getting a new hat (Alexa Moses and Matt Shanks) or even just digging a hole (Kate Mayes and Matt Shanks) are brought to life in a way that inspires the imagination and suggests that poetry really does have a special place in their reading menu. Being able to tell a story in just a few words and even fewer lines is a gift that few have but to the listener/reader it highlights the beauty of our language and shows how it is possible to make every word work hard to stir the brain and the heart.
This really is “a boat of stars” for the imagination and dreams, one that is accessible to all as a shared experience and a welcome addition to a critical area of literature and language that has been neglected for too long.