Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 11 Jan 2024

The Shape of Rainbows by Neil Zetter, illustrated by Will Hughes

It is always pleasing to see a new poetry book published for children and as this one has a positive review from Michael Rosen on the vibrant front cover as ‘a book that zaps and claps its way through the world of words', I was keen to try it out for myself.

As ever, it is difficult to select my favourite poems from such an array of wide- ranging subjects by the very talented Neal Zetter that are brought to life by the very funny illustrations by Will Hughes, but I will try to entice you with today’s top four.


Grab a Book

I will be using this one with children when I talk about the special power of books because it is so simple. I know that they will be inspired to write versions using their own preferred verbs to persuade others to read:

‘Open it

Relish it

Cherish it

Hold it

Hug it …’ 


Lexicon of Leisure

I like the way that quite a few of these poems focus on the process of writing and how words can be fascinating and playful. I would imagine that this is a great way into talking to children about the many possibilities of poetry and how it can sometimes be the best form of expression for conveying a range of emotions. This one is also as an introduction to the imaginative use of adverbs:

‘Friendly kissed and hugged her buddies

Sad shed sacks of salty tears

Frightened shrank then shook in terror

Optimistic spread some cheer’ 


Adam’s Apples (a poem brought to you by the letter A)

This one is the perfect poem for fans of alliteration such as myself as every word begins with the same letter. This allows the reader to see how nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives can be worked together to construct a marvellously paced narrative poem with real jeopardy. And of course, there are twenty five more letters for children to have fun with in a similar fashion.     


The Day I Ate My School

This one is guaranteed to make children laugh out loud with an outrageous theme. It captures the fantasy of taking complete control of a powerful institution that plays such a dominant role in their lives. The greedy miscreant not only devours all the staff, children and equipment but also the buildings:

‘The roof and walls were yummy

The doors and halls divine,

The cars and carpark such a treat,

All washed down with some wine.’

Neal Zetter is an enthusiastic advocate for poetry and has published extensively for many years. This latest delightful anthology is published by Otter-Barry Books and can be obtained from your local independent bookshop – who will be glad to order it for you if it is not on their shelves.


Karen Argent 

January 2024