WOW! What a joyful review of Cherry Moon from BookTrust. Thrilled.

Cherry Moon

Author: Zaro Weil Illustrator: Junli Song

Publisher: Troika


This big, beautiful book would make a wonderful present; it’s a book to pore over again and again. The short, simple poems are joyous nods to nature in all its awe and wonder, from the ‘snapping turtle’s haiku’ to’ a letter to the moon’. The poems ask questions; ‘How Does the Stone Smell?’ ‘How Does the Flower Open?’, and celebrate the colour and movement of life all around us.

The poems bounce around the page, enjoying the freedom of the white space, punctuated by glorious screenprinted artwork from Junli Song in a cool retro palette. This is a book to enchant, inspire and treasure.

Any poetry or art lover would surely welcome Cherry Moon into their library, and it makes the perfect introduction to creative writing for young readers.

SO LUCKY! Guest Poet on the wonderful Brian Moses’s Blog Spot

Guest Poet: Zaro Weil


Zaro Weil was born in the United States. For the first twelve years of her professional life she worked as a dancer, performer, writer, educator, choreographer and theatre director in a theatre/dance company which she founded in St Louis, Missouri. The company, Metro Theater Circus, travelled to schools, universities and art centres all over America, including several performances at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC. It continues to perform to this day, as Metro Theatre Company. Metro won many national grants and awards for arts innovation under Zaro’s leadership.
After moving to London in the 1980s, Zaro performed in fringe theatre, studied flute and dance and wrote several books including
  • Mud,Moon and Me, a poetry book for children,  published by Orchard Books in the UK and Houghton Mifflin in the USA.
In 1992 Zaro founded the non-fiction publishing company MQ Publications which she ran successfully for 16 years, building a team of 35 employees operating from offices in London and New York. The company was sold in 2007, and Zaro moved to southern France where she has dedicated her time to writing poetry, stories and plays for children.
Recently Zaro has had several books published with Troika Books; Firecrackers, illustrated by Jo Riddell, Spot Guevara Hero Dog, illustrated by Katy Riddell and Cherry Moon, illustrated by Junli Song.
I tried to claim the
thought it was mine
             after all
I watched every day
saw how it
woke swirling a haloed
          mass of puffs
saw how it
sat silent at noon
wrapped in stock-still stripes
          green now grey now
         green again
saw how it
rose at twilight
        a cream-frothed peak
         crimson-fired below
then slide into dark and the
purpled nether world
daily nightly
I watched the mountain
part wind into strands
            slice earth into rock
             sun into beams
         even moon into stars
but the mountain
didn’t hear when I called
didn’t talk
never noticed me
that is
I didn’t think so
until one day oh
       a shattering of light
        jarring  of stone
         storm of dust
the mountain welled-up
        pulsing new-born
        inside of me
without one word or
rumbling breath
claimed me
zaro weil, July 2019


National Poetry Day Blog

Poetry and Kids Arm In Arm In Arm In Arm In….

In this blog, author Zaro Weil, discusses children’s connection with poetry and how we can continue to encourage and engage their creativity.

Zaro’s latest poetry collection, Cherry Moon, features as part of our 2019 recommended poetry reading lists.



I think there are several key ways in which poetry and children not just walk arm in arm in arm in arm, but rush hopping, skipping and leaping down the road together.

Children, like poets, naturally think about and refer to the big picture. Why is the sky blue? Where does my dog go when it dies?  How come I look like I do? Children’s approach to this life they find themselves in is unashamedly philosophical. Kids question. Everything. And poetry, in it’s simplest apparition, takes the form of questioning the existence of whatever reality we come across.

Nature looms large for children. The feeling of biting cold wind, gentle snow falling, or a hot sun: these things we feel on the outside can shape inner experience to a high degree for a child. The poet channels that same experience and reflects the outside through a prism of evocative and sparking language.

Children, like poets, anthropomorphise the world. What we don’t understand we endow with understandable human attributes: animals say all kinds of things, shadows need to be tamed, stars answer our wishes. The anthropomorphising of the universe is part of growing up. When a child stops for a long time to stare at a wonderfully shaped stone, that stone may take on new dimensions. Rocks become figures, clouds take on shapes, sounds say something. This personalisation of the environment is the beginning of metaphor and the first spark of poetry. How does the fog come over the harbour?  It comes on little cat feet.

Children, like good poetry, are in perpetual motion. They run. They bound. Hop. Skip. They surprise us with their rhythmic sleight of hand, confound us with symmetry, lull us with melody. For children and poetry share the internal beat of new life which surges through bodies and poetic lines.

Children playing and moving freely develop a vibrant sense memory. A child can easily call on this store of memories as she listens to or writes a story or poem. Poetry too relies on the senses, on words that not only have muscle and rhythm, but which you can practically see or taste, feel or smell. These words are exciting. They stir something in you. Exploring a poem contributes to the child’s vast palette of inner life, of memory, emotion, intelligence, common sense and imagination.

Not only does poetry allow us to colour in who we are, but it gives us the opportunity to be many of the things that we cannot imagine ourselves to be; to magically colour  in the who we are about to become. Writing a poem, listening to a poem, reading a poem, hearing the sway and swing of the words, feeling them grip us even if we don’t understand them all, is part of a magical process. Poetic language is living, full of sudden leaps, shadows and endless nuance. These things never truly follow a straight path. Poetry is like that. Daytime logic is cast aside for night time dreams. For poetic language lives on a rhythmic cloud and speaks oh-so-loud to a listening mind.

A poem poses another way of looking at things. When a child hears or reads or writes a poem she knows and feels, from the tip of her nose to the tips of her toes, that there IS another world out there. A world where we can catch a shadow or ride a dragon or talk to a daffodil.

It is our job as adults to make sure our children are well looked after. That they are allowed and encouraged to dream. And, most importantly, that they have an active, vibrant and thoroughly magical relationship to poetry; the place where some of the best dreams live.

    HUGE thank you to Jill Bennett for this thoughtful review of Cherry Moon

    Cherry Moon

    Cherry Moon
    Zaro Weil, illustrated by Junli Song
    ZaZaKids Books

    I was over the moon (cherry and otherwise) to receive a copy of Zaro Weil’s latest poetry book. It’s subtitled ‘Little Poems Big Ideas Mindful of Nature’.

    Little in length, some might be, but little in impact? – definitely not; not even the very shortest haikus.

    It’s nigh on impossible to choose favourites from the round about 100 offerings so I’ll start with one – Story Time Orchestra – that in essence for me sums up this entire collection:
    a story time orchestra / lives inside my book / and when I open / to my favourite part // everyone starts to play’.

    Play is what Zaro does in her writing –she plays with ideas, plays with words, plays with language and plays with nature itself, painting wonderful word pictures in the mind. Try reading the tongue twisting ‘Preposterous penguins’, an elaborate alliterative poem that beings thus: ’thousands / of preposterously pensive penguins / pause to participate / in a particularly polar poetry pageant’.

    Many poems are interpreted through Junli Song’s stylish, almost stylised illustrations.

    Unsurprisingly the elements feature in a fair few of the poems: I’ll never walk again along the muddy cycle track behind my home in the rain without thinking of ‘Mudpuddling Tonight’ that portrays so perfectly the experience of welly walking near Stroud on a rainy evening; and it will certainly help lift the spirits:
    mudpuddling tonight / sloshgurgling / all the way home through / a well-shined slipstream of / a million and one raindrops / lit by / a million and one moondots’.

    This is assuredly a terrific collection and one to encourage readers, young and not so young, to open wide their eyes and sharpen all their senses to the wonderful world of nature waiting to be discovered in the great outdoors from early morning to late at night and all through the seasons.

    Enchantment through and through.


    …these books will fire up the imagination of younger readers during the summer break, write Emma Dunn and Sarah Mallony

    The Scotsman 29 Jun 2019

    “Explore the changing seasons and the beauty of the natural world in 

    Cherry Moon: Little Poems, Big Ideas, Mindful of Nature (Troika, £14). 

    The 100 poems in the collection, all written by Zaro Weil, vary from the most playful to the more reflective, but always display the infectious curiosity and wonder for nature found in young minds. The book is also visually stunning, with bright graphic illustrations from Junli Song, making sharing these poems a joy for all the senses.”



    Zaro Weil, illus. Jo Riddell, pub. ZaZaKids Books

    “Long ages ago in ancient earth time, creatures talked like us but in wacky weird rhyme” and so begins this collection of 101 poems, short rhyming plays, raps, haikus, stories and fairy tales.  Illustrated with detailed and humorous black and white line drawings and pictures by Jo Riddell which both add to and expand the rich language of the text, children will delight in the cornucopia and richness of the language found within these pages.  Ideal for dipping into, this book can be read together, on your own or out loud; the plays are an interesting addition.

    The topics covered are wide-ranging, thoughtful and quirky so every reader is bound to find something to delight them.  This is a great collection for sparking the imagination, generating questions, and enjoying the sound and intricacies of language and word play.  The collection is a rich celebration of the natural world and this book would sit comfortably on the shelf alongside other poetry books on nature.  There is also a QR code that can be scanned for access to an audio recording of many of the pieces.

    Poetry is an under-represented area, and this would make a great addition to any collection.

    Barbara Band


    Cherry Moon – Little Poems Big Ideas Mindful of Nature

    Zaro Weil, illus. Junli Song, pub. ZaZaKids Books

    The  Flower Moon just went by and the Strawberry Moon is coming in June; in between all this I discovered a Cherry Moon as a keepsake!

    This Summer we shall delve in the soothing and mindful world of nature poetry by the award-winning poetess Zaro Weil, brilliantly illustrated by Junli Song.  The flora and fauna mingling with the human world in a cool night and an atmosphere of nightly festivities greets us on the hardcover of the book with earthy shades of blue, red and white.  The theme is set from the beginning and readers are urged to be “where wild things are, and be a part of, well – everything.”

    And it begins – the nature trip with Dogwood flowers, snoring dog, bees, blossoms, trees and beasts in the wilderness; under the moon!  The River gives its message in a Haiku –

    “You’d never guess,

    but it’s taken forever

    learning to roll

    so well.”

    And the Little Pebble with a grateful heart, sings-

    “I celebrate ancient earth

    I salute ancient wind

    I congratulate ancient waters

    they made me who I am today.”

    This big book of summer joys with over 95 poems is a treat for all ages, with messages of growth, acceptance, environment protection and being mindful about the same.

    It beckons us to discover life as it unfolds around us in space and time, twinkling like fairy lights in the dark and fragrant like blossoms.  The reader and listeners will rightfully believe, like the Dragonflies –

    “As though summer

    will never end.”

    Ishika Tiwari


    Sue Turner

    2 June 2019

    Zaro Weil’s poems are simple-seeming and fun to read, the language exuberant and with a wonderful sense of delight in nature — rivers, mountains, stones, trees, weather — but they have an underlying seriousness and are full of ideas about the environment that will give children lots to think about. My 7-year-old loves it and keeps talking about the poems and asking questions. Junli Song’s gorgeous colourful illustrations make it a lovely book to look at, too. This is a highly original, timely and really important book that will encourage children’s awareness of all life on our planet and how it is changing.

    SO Thrilled…mY Article.. Printed in ARMADILLO MAGAZINE…

    Weave a circle round him thrice

    October 5, 2018


    Zaro Weil


    The day I sat down to start writing this, a snail began a slow tour up the glass door in my kitchen.  ‘What’s he doing here?’ I mused, taking my eye off the ball for a moment.  Is this a sign?  I turned around, the snail had vanished.  The penny dropped.  Little snail was a sign for the opening of this paper.  I realized that I needed to pose a question: about why I was interested in such a strange little flat-footed spirally thing; something both odd and every-day, seen in a flash, vanishing in a blink.  What in the world do snails have to do with poetry?  What is poetry?  What do children have to do with poetry? What role do imagination creativity, reading and listening play in this scenario?

    Let’s go back to our snail, special moments, signs and the mystery of rituals.  Imagine yourself as a five or eight-year-old.  Your pet hamster dies, you find a dead bird, what do you do?  You make a parade. Maybe you bury it.  Whatever the action you have a deep-seated need to create something special.  Perhaps you are older and spot a racing hare or an orange sky.  You want to capture the excitement and fluttering pulse of that moment.  It feels right to give shape to the feeling that sits inside us.  Maybe to tell someone, share in some way.  Maybe that inside feeling is a rock.  Perhaps it’s a swallow.

    Our job, as poets and educators, is to guide children to recognize that giving expression to teach our youth that what matters to us as humans is important.  We need to validate ritual. Poets have been saying this for a long time.

    Let’s think about the building blocks of a poem; words.  I’ll return later to the other living parts of a poem – the images and rhythms.  For now, let’s consider the words we all come to learn and experience in some detail each day.  Let’s add to that imagination.  Perhaps this might be a good time to let you know a bit about me…

    I don’t know exactly how it happened or when I started to write poetry.  I cannot recall an AHA! moment, or my first lines, but one thing I do know – I have always been encouraged to follow my instincts and they were not very different from those of any other child.

    Like everyone else I loved to play, to make things up.  Imagination was the obvious currency. Music, dance, and words of all varieties took a big hold on me.  I don’t think this was unusual. Most of my friends followed the same path. We grew up in a dynamic world, America during the 60’s.  Words, lyrics, rhymes and tunes were around us continually, stimulating us to the core. There was exciting just-sprung rock and roll, Broadway show tunes my parents listened to, endless jingles on television.  All new.  All thrilling.  My friends and I sang along to everything, danced, made up plays and learned lyrics.  These were powerful influences.

    As an adult I came to understand that having fun with words, their rhythms, energy and imagery, led me down a path where putting them together was an adventure.  I loved these words, it didn’t take long before I discovered poetry and its trusty sidekick, metaphor.  At around nine or ten, I remember sitting on my parents’ front porch and reading The World’s Best loved poems over and over.  I memorized a lot of pieces in that book without fully understanding what they were about.  I think I did it just for the pleasure of saying them out loud.  Memorizing them was fun; I could repeat these words over and over whenever I felt like it.

    Looking back, it’s clear that the sheer joy of playing with language was as natural to me and indeed all children, as breathing.  I heard the sounds.  I pictured the words.  Imagination was the currency.  I think the primary way we see the world is poetic.

    Then we strive, our whole lives, to make sense of that world. I believe that the principle path taken, the way we try to learn about everything around us.  This route, making imaginative and creative order out of chaos, with play at its core, is an intrinsically artistic process.

    But the artist, like the child, cannot help but respond, to make things up, create illusions, offer alternatives.  A child gathers in the world through the senses.  When these senses are fed and developed the child naturally exhibits far greater acuity, understanding, perception, and appreciation of the world they find themselves in.  As such, problem solving becomes easier, in every field.

    There are three ways, and probably many more, in which I think poetry and children walk side by side.  That they are a match made in heaven.

    Children, like poetry, think about and refer to the big picture:  Why is the sky blue?  Where does my dog go when it dies?   Why do I look like I do?  A child’s approach to life they is unashamedly philosophical, they question, everything.  The impulse is an honest and necessary one.   Poetry, in its simplest apparition, takes the form of questioning the existence of whatever reality we come across.

    Typical children’s questions and answers

    Q:  What’s inside the sun?

    A:  Daytime

    Q:  What’s inside the earth?

    A:  Colours before they get their names.

    Q:  Who made the first circle?

    A:   Someone who got very dizzy.

    Q:   What draws the bee to the honeysuckle?

    A:   Ten million summers.

    Q:   What roars inside a seashell?

    A:   Beach lions.

    Q:   What roars inside you?

    A:   My blood

    Q:   How does one tie a rainbow?

    A:   The first thing is to find the ends.

    Q:    If it’s noon here, what time is it on Mars?

    A:    A billion years before noon.

    Q:    How long does it take to move a mountain?

    A:    Depends on the number of ants available.

    Q:   At what speed does a moth move to a lamp?

    A:   At light speed.

    Q:   Why is the letter I dotted?

    A:   To have a good time.

    Children, like poets, perceive the world with a closeness, excitement and clarity of vision adults often lack or have forgotten.  They will not just point to a worm wiggling in the ground but reach down to get closer, to see it, maybe to pick it up.  Maybe stopping for a long time to stare at a wonderfully shaped or bizarre stone.  Soon that stone takes on new dimensions.  For if we look at something long enough and hard enough it can begin to take on a new identity.  Rocks become figures, clouds shape, sounds say something.  This is daily ritual for a child, it is precisely these heightened perceptions that put us in touch with the universals, that offer us new ways to see the world, new eyes.  We perceive things according to the stored experiences we already know.


    How to Get an Idea

    Dig into Mud

    Open up a new box of crayons

    Run your finger through a bag of marbles

    Skip a stone across water

    Ask a cat to lend you one

    Stand quietly under a dictionary

    Stick out your tongue and say, “Ah!”

    Put an empty picture frame on the wall and wait

    I believe our first view of the world, once we have language, is an imaginative and poetic one. What we don’t understand, we endow with human attributes; animals say all kinds of things, shadows need to be tamed, stars answer our wishes.  Anthropomorphising the universe is part of growing up.  To understand the world, we recreate it in our own recognizable human image. This personalization of the environment is the beginning of metaphor.  The first sparks of poetry.  How does the fog come?  It comes on little cat feet.  This is problem solving of the highest and most imaginative order.




    last evening you

    rolled so loud and silver

    past my window

    that the shadows

    woke and wove their dark

    molasses stripes

    over my bed


    in the criss-cross of

    that night-time

    I knew what to do

    breathe soft

    breathe soft

    and fold into a

    quiet silhouette

    until morning

    Children are perpetual motion.  They run, bound, hop, skip.  An internal rhythm of new life surges throughout their bodies, they don’t miss a beat, just like good poetry.  Children are far more expressive than adults.  Children playing and moving freely, develop a certain vibrant memory.  Some call it a sense memory.  A child can freely call on this store of memories listening to a story or poem for poetry relies on the senses; on words that not only have muscle, but which you can practically see or taste or feel or smell.  These words are exciting, stirring. Again, creativity depends on sense memory, on the ability to recreate from a store of remembered experiences.


    My first blush of poetry happened because as a child I believed that the sun rose the instant I opened my eyes in the morning.  I remember lying in bed and opening one eye at a time, seeing if I could fool the sun.  But the sun was always there, loyal to me.  I realized I was queen of the sun.  I called these pre-school fantasies personal myths and it is these myths, which I collected from friends and family, that formed the basis of my first book of poems, Mud, Moon and Me published by Orchard Books and Houghton Mifflin.

    Reading, listening, reacting to the world make us human.  What is it that makes us the kings and queens of our world?  What gives us the vision to express or understand the heady sentiments and urges that rest deep within us?  The misty moon-lit non-thoughts, those profound things that make us each different and special, the view of the world turned upside down with snow falling?

    This is the role of poetry, allowing us to be who we are, giving us the opportunity to be many of the things that we cannot imagine ourselves to be.  Listening to a poem, hearing the sway and swing of the words, feeling them grip us is part of – and I use this word carefully – a magical process.  Poetic language is living, full of sudden leaps and shadows and endless nuance.  These things never truly follow a straight path.  Poetry is like that.  Daytime logic is cast aside for night-time dreams, poetic language lives on rhythmic clouds and speaks oh so loud to a listening mind.

    Barefoot on the beach

    scanning the offerings of last nights tide

    gulls-shadowless still-flock before us

    their sharp cries crack

    morning-taut sea

    barefoot on the beach

    we follow those match-stick prints

    everything sparkles

    it’s a gumdrop canvas already

    bathers towels parasols

    we stroll along light as froth

    story swapping

    stepping over seashore secrets

    snug in wet sand

    laughter threads round us

    swirls like candy floss

    a pale shell catches my eye

    it is spiralled orange and white

    wind polished to a gleam

    a miniature house of some long lost creature

    a baby sea horse in my story

    the empty shell so delicate


    one of millions of sundry small things

    washed in by chance

    the scent of salt captures me

    I float featureless

    empty as a puff

    scanning gull-like

    the fullness of things blue

    a puzzle swells

    splits open like a clam sunning

    how strange it is to spot this shell

    not any other

    to draw it and it alone into my universe

    and what other things are there to catch my eye

    flutter down my spine

    dragged in by some restless

    tide of my own

    and might things random

    be not random at all

    that what I choose to scan rests

    in some shadowy pool

    some lost landscape of buried secrets

    childhood frail

    wedged tight behind my reflection

    only to wash up

    in the great fullness or emptiness

    of some moment or other

    A poem poses another way of looking at things.  When a child hears or reads a poem they know and feel from the tip of their nose to the tips of their toes, that there IS another world out there. A special, wild, free world.  A world where we can catch a shadow or slay a dragon or talk to a daffodil.  It is our job, as adults in this arena, to make sure our children are well looked after, allowed and encouraged to dream, to have an active and vibrant relationship to poetry.

    For those of us who are lucky enough to be involved with children and poetry writing, I take my hat off to you.  This is one of the finest human experiences we can offer our kids.

    To end, I hope my little snail has made it someplace wonderful by now and is dreaming his snail dreams.  As for us?  This wonderful passage from Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge sums it up perfectly:

    Weave a circle around him thrice

    And close your eyes with holy dread

    For he on honey-dew hath fed

    and drunk the milk of Paradise

    The milk of paradise is none other than the wondrous self we can discover, not in some far away Xanadu, but inside ourselves.  Inside the heart of every child.  That is the heart and soul of why poetry is important.