Poetry is one of those things that I always want to be better about reading for myself, but also sharing with my kids. I loved poetry as a child, and even now as an adult when I remember to read some. Poetry is wonderfully lyrical, imaginative, and memorable. We have started reading some poetry books at lunchtime, when I have finished eating and we are waiting for everyone to be finished. Robert Louis Stevenson collections seem to always be easily found, illustrated by so many favorites. But this book stumbled into my view recently and I rushed to the library to test it out. Chris Riddell is one of my illustration inspirations so that was a major selling point with this book. But I also love that the poems are geared to very little kids. They are silly. They ring true. And they are delightful to giggle over together. Enjoy A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell, 2015.
There are thirty-five poems in the book, almost each one claiming a spread of its own. The layout of the book is marvelous. It is an oversized book, similar to a picture book, with ample white space and saturated color on gorgeous uncoated paper. I did not find a designer’s name for the layout, but I love the mix of large, colorful typography with Riddell’s excellent illustrations.
The poems are mostly humorous and often full of non-sequitur, brimming with childish trains of thoughts and wonderings and made-up words. There are monsters, and dances, and animals, and sideways pages. There are mad poems, and sad poems, and silly poems, and loud poems, and scary poems, and dancing poems.
All of the poems are relatively short and quick, despite their taking up an entire page or two. That is where the beautiful typography and layout come in, making the text and the illustration feel like one.
Michael Rosen is a fantastic writer and poet, which if you don’t recognize his name, I’m sure you’ll at least know and love the classic We’re Going On A Bear Hunt among his many other amazing works. (You need to click on that link and watch Rosen perform the book. Seriously. I’ll wait.)
I am so excited to purchase a copy of this for our shelves. You can’t have enough silly, quotable lines in your life, and this is full of many perfect quotes for days with toddlers. I’ll leave you with a section from one of my favorites (Are You Listening?) in the book:
Don’t start laughing
Did you hear what I said?
Do what I say
Or you’re going to bed.
Ha! This can really only be funny when said to my child because she and I both know that I am quoting a favorite book. Thank you literature. Happy reading!
And be sure to visit Michael Rosen’s site and get lost watching his videos of him reading his books.