New review: Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex

Just in time for National Poetry Day, I’m delighted to be reviewing the fantastic book, Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex, author and illustrator of many picture books and novels.

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We all know nothing rhymes with orange. But how does that make Orange feel? Well, left out! When a parade of fruit gets together to sing a song about how wonderful they are – and the song happens to rhyme – Orange can’t help but feel like it’s impossible for him to ever fit in.   

As soon as I read about this book I knew I’d love it – and I do!  It’s a wonderful parable of how in order to fit in, we sometimes need a bit of help and for that to happen others need to make space and maybe adjust a little.

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It starts as an amusing poem celebrating the wonderful and varied fruit, but as Orange gets more downhearted and desperate to fit it, the rhymes get a little more ridiculous.  As Drew Daywalt said (author of The Day the Crayons Quit) “any picture book that can work in Friedrich Nietzsche and lycanthropic pears is a winner”.

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Even Orange can’t work out what’s going on, asking questions throughout, creating an emotional commentary alongside the fruit parade poem.  Finally, it’s a very intuitive Apple who realises certain fruit are “feeling rotten because they’ve been forgotten” and works out just how to help Orange fit in.  I won’t spoil it, but it’s genius in its childlike simplicity!

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The illustrations are a combination of photographs, text and drawing, bringing to life a vibrant cast of characters – the fruit we know and love. Young and old alike will enjoy this fruity tale, a good book to read aloud creating instant empathy. Original and with a great message celebrating difference, Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a wonderful book to help celebrate National Poetry Day!

Find out more at www.adamrex.com

With thanks to Abrams and Chronicle for sending me this book to review.

15 December: Natasha Carthew

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Author Natasha Carthew joins our Christmas calendar!

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Natasha Carthew is from Cornwall where she lives with her girlfriend of nineteen years. She has had three books of poetry published. Her first novel Winter Damage was nominated for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for several national awards including the prestigious Branford Boase Award 2014. The Light That Gets Lost published in Winter 201.

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! Book Vouchers (behind every good writer is a great reader); new hiking boots (I walk everywhere and my old boots are full of holes); a puppy (really!)

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? The best is hunting down the Christmas tree; as kids we used to ‘find’ one in the local woods, but these days my girlfriend and I spend a full day travelling between barns, farms and garden centres in pursuit of perfection. I also love foraging for things like fir cones and holly to make into decorations.

What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? Winter Damage by me! I wrote this book outside in a particularly cold winter and because it was my first work of fiction I read it every Christmas to mind me of that time. It is set in a snowy Cornwall over two weeks running up to Christmas so technically it is a Christmas book and is best read in front of a roaring log fire (and with a box of tissues.)17205326

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? All my favourite writers, songwriters and musicians so we could have a huge party filled with readings and acoustic music (too many to mention here).

(Love the sound of this; what a brilliant idea!)

You have often spoken about your love for the Cornish countryside and the outdoors. What would be your ideal view if looking out of your window from home at Christmas time? The one I am lucky to look at every day; green fields, woodland and part of Bodmin Moor, but perhaps it could do with a little more snow, especially at Christmas.

You write both poetry and prose. Your novels have been described as ‘lyrical’ and having their ‘own poetry.’ Do you think it’s possible to 9781408835876separate the two forms of writing and if you had to choose between the two, which would it be? At this time in my career I would choose fiction writing. I’m a storyteller and I find sometimes I can’t say all I want to with poetry, but saying that I am working on a longer, book-length poem at the moment. I don’t think there’s any need to truly separate poetry and prose and thankfully readers are becoming more open to untried/lyrical writing such as mine.

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Reader’s question from children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut; we are often told keeping a journal can help our writing. Do you keep a journal? If not, what do you do to help inspire you? Keeping a journal or ideas book can definitely help with your writing. I have a memory book where I stick things like photos, ticket stubs and flight tickets which I have been doing since I was really young and I also include any poetry I have written so the book records a kind of timeline of my life (like a diary). I also have a beautiful leather-bound journal where I write ideas for new books and collect inspirational quotes and pictures for settings, characters or whatever.

(Great advice!)

Turkey or goose? Nut Roast (I’m Veggie).

Real or fake tree? Real!

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Mince Pies (Homemade).

Stockings – end of the bed or over the fireplace? Fireplace.

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas Eve.

Thank you for joining our festive author calendar! Happy Christmas!

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Find out more about Natasha at www.bloomsbury.com and follow her on Twitter @natashacarthew.

14 December: Hilda Offen

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Author and illustrator Hilda Offen joins the Calendar!

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Hilda Offen is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator with many books in print. She won the Smarties Gold Award for her picture book Nice Work, Little Wolf! and her book The Galloping Ghost was shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize and the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award. Hilda’s books  include the Rita the Rescuer series, Too Many Hats and Blue Balloons and Rabbit Ears, which was shortlisted for the 2015 CLPE Poetry Award.

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! I don’t really have a Christmas list – I just hope for lots of books!

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions?  Singing!

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There are wonderful stories shared at Christmas time. What is your favourite story to read at Christmas?  The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde.

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? Jane Austen

Your lovely poems often feature nature and the world around us. If you could spend Christmas in any location in the world, where would it be? In Australia, somewhere in the rain forest.

As an illustrator, you draw amazing pictures to bring your stories to life.  How do you get creative at Christmas time? We love having children’s’ parties and of course, decorating the  Christmas tree!

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Reader’s question from students at Warden Park Secondary Academy: where do you get your inspiration from? I get inspiration for poems from all over the place – when I’m walking around, sitting on trains, talking to people etc. Sometimes a phrase will come into my head and that will be the start of a poem.

 

Turkey or goose? Turkey.

Real or fake tree? Real.

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Mince pies.

Stockings –  end of the bed or over the fireplace? The end of the bed.

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve?  Christmas Eve.

Thank you for joining our festive Q & A! Merry Christmas!

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Find out more about Hilda at www.troikabooks.com.

5 December: Joshua Seigal

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Introducing Joshua Seigal, children’s poet!

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Joshua Seigal is an award-winning poet, performer and educator. He has worked in hundreds of schools, nurseries, libraries, theatres and festivals around the country, and his poems have been published in numerous anthologies.  Joshua writes for adults as well as children, regularly standing up at comedy, spoken word and variety nights. Michael Rosen described Joshua’s poems in I Don’t Like Poetry  as magic!

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! Hmm, interesting. I don’t really have Christmas lists. I was brought up Jewish so we didn’t really do Christmas. Nowadays I decide what to get people on the spur of the moment. Usually it’s edible (or drinkable).

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? The annual family argument is quite traditional, isn’t it? Another good one involves dressing my dog up as Santa. He is a Lhasa Apso and is very fluffy, so he has a beard just like Santa.

(I don’t think you can beat a dog Santa lookalike!)51i9ubfbnll-_sy344_bo1204203200_

What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah.

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? Donald Trump. Just joking! It would have to be my family. But not Uncle Nigel. Uncle Nigel is not invited.

(Poor Uncle Nigel!!)

You write amazing poetry for children! If you were to write a festive Christmas poem for children what would it be about? Thank you very much! I wrote one recently about a kid who falls in love with the fairy on top of the Christmas tree. It might also be fun to write one about the ten worst things to find in a Christmas stocking.

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I Don’t Like Poetry is described as helping even the most reluctant poem reader enjoy it more. Did you enjoy poetry as a child and how did you get into writing poems? I liked it a bit, I would say. I enjoyed writing rhyming poems as a child, and as a teenager I wrote some awful, self-indulgent, pseudo-intellectual stuff. But I was never very into reading poetry. I started to read more poems in order to become a better writer. I also found writing poetry, and engaging in intricate word play, was a good way of keeping the black dog of depression at bay.

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Reader’s question from Adam aged 10, Great Walstead School: you write lots of funny and silly poems. Where do you get your ideas from and do you laugh while you’re writing them? Great question. I get ideas from lots of places, but the most important ingredients are within me: my five senses, and my imagination. I do sometimes laugh when I write them; when that happens I know it is going to be a good poem!

 

Turkey or goose? Neither. A nut roast for me.

Real or fake tree? Real.

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? I hate both! Bah, humbug!

Stockings –  end of the bed or over the fireplace? On my legs.

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas Eve.

Thank you for taking the time to participate! Have a very Happy Christmas!

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For more information about Joshua Seigal, visit www.joshuaseigal.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @joshuaseigal