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.
- Mud,Moon and Me, a poetry book for children, published by Orchard Books in the UK and Houghton Mifflin in the USA.
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.
Zaro Weil, illustrated by Junli Song
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.
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
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.”
2 June 2019