Michelle Taylor, 100 Ways to Fly, University of Queensland Press, August 2019, 144 pp., RRP $14.95 (pbk), ISBN 978070226250
This entertaining collection of poems for children is presented in seven themes. The section headings give a clear indication of the contents: The Word Zoo; Great Balls of Poetry; The Time of Our Lives; Spooky and Sick; How Many Noses in a Nostril?; Coming to Your Senses; A pocket full of Poems. School, sport, the seasons, observations from life, problems faced in everyday life as a kid—all relatable subjects tackled by this accomplished poet. One of my favourites is this empathetic little gem on page 113:
I want a hidden pocket
sewn inside my shirt.
I’ll place a little poem in it
and go there when I’m hurt.
In this kid-friendly book, there are many opportunities to learn about different types of poetry. Children can use Taylor’s poems as models, to write their own work and emulate the approach she offers to everyday subjects and poetic forms. Limericks, riddles, concrete poems, one-line poems, nonsense poems, syllabic poems, and longer complex forms are all represented with loads of white space and accessible language.
Wordplay, sensory details and fun abound. Poetry can and should be a pleasure in the classroom: this collection is not at all daunting. What I enjoyed most, apart from the accessibility and honesty of the work, was the mood of optimism and joy evident in all the poems. Poetry helps us in many ways—in language arts, understanding and responding to the world, and in telling about ourselves. This book helps children with their own “lift-off” into poetic flight.
Michelle Taylor’s third collection, this will be an enjoyable, worthwhile addition to school libraries and teaching resource centres.
Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke