Andrea Reece: Celebrating the CLiPPA 2021

Celebrating the CLiPPA 2021

Is there any prize more joyful than the CLiPPA? The CLiPPA highlights the best new poetry for children and, through the Shadowing Scheme, allows schools and children to get up close to the collections on the shortlist, turning thousands into lifelong poetry fans.

The celebrations for this year’s shortlist announcement were particularly exciting, even for the CLiPPA, a prize that regularly takes over the National Theatre. The five books were announced live on stage at The Globe, part of a day of magnificent poetry performances for this year’s Poetry By Heart project. Congratulations to Tim Shortis and Julie Blake for creating the event and delivering it so successfully.

Before the shortlist announcement, the audience was treated to performances from two of the winning schools in the 2020 CLiPPA Shadowing Scheme. First up were ten-year-olds Freddie and Zane from Swaffield Primary School, Wandsworth with their lively recitation of the poem Brother and Sister by Lewis Carroll, which appears in A. F. Harrold’s collection Midnight Feasts. (Both boys, incidentally, claim they thoroughly approve of the poem’s concluding moral: ‘Never stew your sister’.) Then, with a ‘Boom-ba-da-Boom!’ seven-year-old Benji from Norwich Road Academy, Thetford performed Fireworks by Anna E. Jordan, which features in The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog, edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones. Benji says he loves the rhythm of the poem, which shows him how to read it.

After that it was time for this year’s chair of the judges, Allie Esiri, to take to the stage to announce the 2021 shortlist. And it is (deep breath), alphabetically by poet:

Slam! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This, chosen by Nikita Gill, Macmillan
This inspiring collection, curated with great skill by Nikita Gill, brings together ‘some of the fiercest voices in British verse’. It’s a book to excite young people about the potential of poetry, say the CLiPPA judges.

Bright Bursts of Colour, Matt Goodfellow, illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff, Bloomsbury Education
The poems in Matt Goodfellow’s collection range from the silly to the sensitive, and all will resonate with children aged 7 – 11. The judges loved Matt’s dynamic representations of real-life experiences, and clear understanding of a child’s sensibilities.

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann, Penguin
Compelling, powerful, and authentic, Manjeet Mann’s verse novel speaks directly to its YA audience. The judges loved the fresh voice and how a form used by Coleridge is made new.

Big Green Crocodile Rhymes to Say and Play, by Jane Newberry, illustrated by Carolina Rabei, Otter-Barry Books
Beautifully presented and perfectly illustrated, this collection of new nursery rhymes is a perfect post-lockdown book, allowing grown-ups and small children to connect.

On the Move, Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake, Walker Books
On the Move is both personal and universal, with messages of home, identity and family. Full of emotion, delivered with a perfect sense of understatement, words and illustrations provide readers with spaces to pause and consider.

Poets Jane Newberry, Manjeet Mann, Matt Goodfellow and Michael Rosen were there to read poems from their shortlisted collections, icing on the CLiPPA cake!

The winner will be announced on 11th October alongside the launch of the 2021 Shadowing Scheme. Do explore the books on the shortlist, because each of these collections reminds us what the best poetry for children can do, which is of course the point of all the CLiPPA celebrations. 

This year’s judges are poets Zaro Weil, 2020 CLiPPA winner with Cherry Moon; Amina Jama, whose debut poetry pamphlet A Warning to the House that Holds Me was published by Flipped Eye Press in 2019; Julie Blake, co-founder and Director of Poetry By Heart; and Charlotte Hacking, Learning Programmes Leader at CLPE.

Andrea Reece

Andrea Reece reviews for Lovereading4Kids, is managing editor of Books for Keeps and the children’s programme director for the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival. A former manager of National Poetry Day, she is very happy to be working now with CLPE on the CLiPPA

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