August 21 – Poet’s Day


About the Holiday

Today celebrates the poet—that special person who looks at the world and transforms it into lines of rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, and meaning that make readers experience life and sometimes even the most common occurrence in a whole new way. Some poetry is poignant, some evocative, and some silly, but it all provides different perspectives and enriches our lives—even the youngest among us!

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young

Written by Michael Rosen | Illustrated by Chris Riddell


Before children learn to speak and in order for them to become literate and proficient readers, they discover the sounds of language. The poems in A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young are all about those snappy, rhyming, musical syllables that make up speech and text. The collection’s 35 poems replicate the progression of language learning from the first offering—Tippy-Tappy, with its staccato repetition of “ippy, appy, eppy, oppy, uppy sounds—to Gruff and Dave and The Slow Train that provide longer, more detailed storytelling.


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

The subjects are familiar to even tiny children whose worlds include the buttons, parties, pets, music, and other topics treated with innovation in this collection. The juxtaposition of words, concepts, questions, and nonsense, will keep kids laughing even as they are (probably) unconsciously soaking in the rich learning.

I Went is an example in which multiple concepts combine to create a funny travelogue with double meaning twists:

“I went to Lapland / I saw a reindeer on the loose. / I went to Canada / I saw a chocolate mousse.  I went to the river / I saw a big green frog. / I went to New York / I saw a hot dog.”

Bendy Man describes a rather unique fellow with special talents that kids would love to get to know. It starts like this:

“Bendy Man, Bendy Man / He’s a long leggy man. / Bendy Man, Bendy Man / In a baked-bean can. Bendy Man, Bendy Man / Wraps round trees / Bendy Man, Bendy Man / Can’t find his knees.”

Along the way there are also poems to validate kids’ emotions, which come in shades of happiness, bounciness, anger, satisfaction, and frustration among others, as well as to comfort them when they get hurt or scared as in the poem Mo: “Mo’s in a muddle / She slipped in a puddle / Mommy gives Mo / A great big cuddle.”


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Let Me Do It is an exuberant tribute to a child’s eagerness to help: “Let me do it, let me do it / Let me blow up the balloon / Let me do it, let me do it / Let me go to the moon.                 Let me cook the beans / Let me lick the jar / Let me kick the ball / Let me drive the car.” But as often happens with inexperience, the tasks become a bit confused later in the poem: “Let me drive the beans / Let me kick the jar / Let me lick the ball / Let me cook the car.”

Michael Rosen’s love of language and quirky, kid-like personality are on full display in A Great Big Cuddle, much to the benefit of his young fans. Rosen is able to tap into and capture those fleeting ideas and “wouldn’t it be cool if…” moments that fuel kids’ imaginations and actions. Life is much too long and much too short not to spend some of it in absurd hilarity, and Rosen provides a book full of that respite here.

Chris Riddell infuses each of the poems with the personalities of enthusiastic children, adorable monsters, familiar animals, and high-spirited action. The large, full-bleed pages allow for full-size fun and a variety of typography. The bold colors will attract even the smallest reader and keep them riveted to the sounds and sights of this excellent poetry collection for young children.


Image copyright Chris Riddell, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Older kids will also find much to enjoy in the humorous spirals taken by the lines in A Great Big Cuddle. Some poems, such as  I Am Hungry, in which a bear in a bib states everything he will eat, would make a great teaching tool about what can and cannot logically be consumed.

Because A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young is perfect for dipping into again and again, you’ll be happy to have it close it hand on your shelves.

Ages Birth – 6

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763681166

Visit Michael Rosen’s website to see his amazing range of books, poems, events, TV and radio programs and more!

Follow the Cycling Fish through a tour of Chris Riddell’s artwork!

Poet’s Day Activity


A Pair of Bears (Pear of Bears? Pair of Bairs?) Coloring Pages and Poem Prompts


The two bears in these coloring pages are having different days—one is grumpy while the other is happy. Color the printable A Pair of Bears Coloring Pages and then write one or two poems about them!

Bear 1

Bear 2

Picture Book Review