'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Review: How to be Tiger

Poetry is such an important tool for teaching children about language. They can hear the rhythm of the spoken word and they can learn to think about words and language in different ways.

George Szirtes’ new book of poems for children contains engaging poems about animals, nature and people, as well as new takes on famous fairy tales, such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel. Many of the poems just capture a moment, such as swinging on a swing, or climbing a ladder.

The poems take a variety of forms and differ in length and structure.  They include several active poems which encourage children to move, such as How to be a Tiger, which challenges them to pad like a tiger and roar. 

Some poems make great use of language to create pace such as Running with the Wind, which will have you reading so fast you’ll run out of breath:


Whoosh! See
    these words blow
        across the page
                almost off them
                        in a sudden draught
                                   of speaking very fast
                                               as if your lungs were bursting


What a great poem to explore with children how word choice and positioning impacts on the way we read. Several of the poems in the book have non-standard positioning of text, which adds another dimension to the poems and another discussion point with children.

The book is partially illustrated, with Tim Archbold’s sketched black and white illustrations throughout supporting the poems and helping to engage younger readers.

The variety of poetic styles will help you explore with children how poems can be different. They can be active, making you want to do something, they can be emotive, making you feel a certain way, they can be lyrical and rhythmic, making you almost want to sing them, and they can be descriptive of an event, person or thing.

Poems are a great platform for supporting children to develop a love of words and language. They are a fantastic way to explore language and, of course, to have fun with it! It can be hard to find good poems for children and Szirtes’ lovely little collection is worth a look.


Title: How to be a Tiger 
Author: George Szirtes 
Illustrator: Tim Archbold (cover illustration by Ellie Jenkins) 
Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd, $14.99
Publication Date: 1 May 2017 
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781910959206
For ages: 4+ 
Type: Poetry Collection


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