It’s fitting that Simon Lamb’s debut collection of children’s poetry opens with an invitation: the poem How to Start an Adventure invites us to get up, step outside, ‘and run’. His poems, likened later to snow globes, ‘each a little capturing of a moment, a memory’, are full of invitation to explore those moments and memories they capture, and many share the sense of excitement and exhilaration as to the adventures they begin. It’s more than likely too that these fifty poems – just fifty words each – will also serve as invitations to children to write their own poetry; it seems in this playful, ingenious collection such a very enjoyable thing to do.
Though Lamb limits himself to fifty words for each poem – deliberately cheating in the poem Word Count in which the 51st word, ‘words’ is crossed out – there are few limits to subject or theme. There are poems about nature, about family and friendships, and a good few about the act of writing or creation itself, such as in the witty, entertaining Murder Mystery, self-describing Pocket Poem, or Untitled I; Paint on Canvas, which concludes with another invitation, this time to ‘Create. /Cause chaos.’ The title of the collection can be found tucked in the poem, Life on the Rock, about hermit crabs, where the precision of the fifty-word form is delicately used to create the sense of an endless ‘passing on of shells’. Illustrations by Chris Riddell match the poems perfectly.
Simon Lamb explains why he chose poetry in this special article for Books for Keeps.