Stars with Flaming Tails

by | Mar 15, 2021 | Book Review, Poetry

Stars with Flaming Tails

Book Details

Stars with Flaming Tails
Valerie Bloom, illus. Ken Wilson-Max. Burley Gate: Otter-Barry Books, pb, 978 1 9130 7467 8, 2021, £7.99, 96pp.
Poetry, black and white illustrations, 7+ years

I travelled once around the world/ On stars with flaming tails,/ And touched the colours of my dreams/ Along some silver trails.

Poems appear under the headings ‘Family and Friends’, ‘Fun with Forms’, ‘Our World’, ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Animals’.

Under ‘Family and Friends’, ‘Welcome’ is for a new baby. In parts of Africa and the Caribbean, the baby is not named until the eighth day when there is a big celebration. ‘And the sea whispered,/ “Welcome, Chinelo. Welcome” ’. The illustration of the mother holding the child, with the child stretching out her hand towards the mother evokes the bond between them.

Fun with Forms’ is certainly fun, with an echo verse, an Elfje ship, a cinquain, riddles, a rondel, limericks, a reverse verse and a skeletonic verse. The Rondel, ‘Sorrow Calls’ illustration is of a child asleep in bed hugging a teddy, eyes shut, and lips turned down, I assume in sorrow. ‘Sorrow called while I was sleeping,/ As he had done once before, … He walked not boldly, but came creeping/ Like those robbers I abhor

Our World’ includes ‘Eclipse’, ‘Volcanoes’, ‘Forest’ and similar. It also includes ‘Indigestion’: ‘First there is a little grumble, then a loud and powerful rumble

Animals’ includes ‘Praying Mantis’ the illustration of it with eyes staring at the reader makes you hope you never meet one. ‘Before a meal, what it will say/ Is not “Bless this food” but “Bless this prey”.’

Unbelievable’ includes a parody on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, ‘Jack’s Mother’: ‘He was always being conned by some crook’s money-making scheme.’ The mother has her arms folded with a look of exasperation.

(‘Contrary Carl’, ‘Best Friends’ and ‘The Moon Told the Wind’ with links to the author reading each poem and illustrator drawing the illustration).

I highly recommend the book for both its verses and illustrations. It will bring laughter and pleasure in its reading and rereading.

Review by JJH