Now in this paperback edition, Let’s Celebrate! is an exciting anthology of illustrated poems about twenty four celebrations and festivals from around the world. Some are well known – Easter, Thanksgiving, Eid and Diwali while others are less familiar – La Tomatina, Arbour day, Kwanzaa and Ice Festival. There are illuminating notes about each festival. But not only do children learn about the celebrations they also enter a treasure store of different kinds of poetry. The creators of the book explain that they could not include every festival but that they selected poems that they enjoy and ‘which we hope captures some of the world’s diversity’. There are playful rhyming verses – for example ‘Pancake Day’ by Christina Rossetti and Brian D’Arcy’s ‘Saint Patrick’s Day’. Three charming Haiku communicate, in a nutshell, the loveliness of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan. And there is a delightful anonymous conversation piece – ‘Dance, Dance’ to help celebrate Rangali Bihu. There are poems to appeal to every taste. Two have stayed with me. One is Sue Hardy-Dawson’s shape poem ‘Poe Tree for Arbor Day’ which has a subtle rhyming pattern and an ironic message: artificial trees are ‘likeable: they don’t need sunlight and they’re totally recyclable’ but real trees ‘could save the earth, for our children’s children…’ The other one I cannot get out of my head is the moving ‘A Card for me Mum’ written in the ‘voice’ of a child searching for a card with an image of a woman who ‘looks more like me Mum’.
The over eights would be able to read and savour the poems on their own while younger children would respond to hearing then read out loud. And , of course, the book is an excellent resource to add to any primary teacher’s bookshelf. There is so much here- Shirin Adl’s art work so full of life, colour and movement as well as the splendid selection of poems- to inspire children’s creative response to the theme.