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poetry fridayFor my first Poetry Friday post I simply had to chose a poem by Michael Rosen. Rosen was the UK’s Children’s Laureate 2007-June 2009 and is a truly wonderful, funny, perceptive and engaging author – M has adored listening to his audiobooks for nearly 2 years now and I’ve been listening to them for 25. One of my proudest moments as a kid was when my wonderful Dad was mistaken for Michael Rosen 🙂 Rosen would definitely be one of my *Desert Island authors, perhaps even the one I would save when the tide washes all the others away.

*[Desert Island Disks is a long running radio programme in the UK, where the guest is invited to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island. At the end of the programme the guest has to choose the single record s/he would save if the tide were to wash them all away. The guest on the current episode is Julia Donaldson (the author of The Gruffalo) – so if you get a chance do listen to the show – it will be available online for 7 days following its transmission. Michael Rosen himself appeared on Desert Island Disks in 2006 and his choice of records can be seen here.]

Rosen has written so many brilliant poems it is hard to choose just one, but today we selected Gymnastics, which is in his collection Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here (perfectly illustrated by Quentin Blake). Here’s a snippet for you:

When my mum and dad went out
we moved the chair to the end of the settee
and then we used to take it in turns
to do dive-bombs
off the chair
on to the settee.


Jump down on to the floor
back on to the chair
standby for dive-bomb
wow did you see that one?

Like so many of Rosen’s poems this is great fun to read and listen to because it captures a small moment from childhood that we can all relate to. The illicit bouncing on the sofa, the potential for disaster. The strong narrative of the poem and the use of so many onomatopoeic words encourages the reader to say the poem out loud, indeed to virtually act it out. Or not so virtually as the case may be…

…yes, this funny poem did indeed inspire our own gymnastics session at home. We set up a little assault course throughout the house and got bouncing, jumping and climbing. Here’s what it entailed:

1. 10 bounces on M’s bed.


2. Jumping from pillow to pillow to avoid touching the floor until you reached Mum and Dad’s room. Then climb along the loft ladder onto their bed!


3. Then roly-polies (roly-polys?) on J’s bed.


4. Slide down the stairs at break-neck speed on your duvets.


5. Put the hula hoop over your head and do a wiggle.


6. Crawl through the tunnel to the kitchen.


7. Climb over the sofa and along the chairs.


8. Into the final strait – along the ladder and into the tent!


We went round and round the assault course several times; indeed I think the girls would have been up for much more, but after an hour I needed a cup of tea!

When all the “gymnastics equipment” had been tidied up M draw a series of pictures to show Dad what “crazy monkey stuff” we’d been up to (can you recognise the stages?!):



The blurb on the backcover of Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here says “Michael Rosen knows all about YOU. He has written, and Quentin Blake has illustrated, a witty book of poems about the things that you do, that you say, that you know, that you think. Look inside and see if he’s spotted your deepest secrets.” And in the best possible way this is all true – M (and I and my husband) love the truth Rosen captures about childhood. His poems are full of life, humour, and wondeful observation. Please read some as soon as you can!

quick_lets_get_out_of_here_frontcoverQuick, Let’s Get Out of Here: 3star I would urge you to get hold of the audiobook as Michael Rosen reads his poems with energy and aplomb – you and your kids won’t regret it. If you can go and see him live, even better! You’ll come home feeling full of rhythm and life.

Whilst bouncing along we’ve been listening to a couple of Michael Rosen’s Desert Island Disks – Cockney Translation by Smiley Culture and Black, Brown, and White by Bill Broonzy. And I’ve added the album Hello, Michael Rosen by Paul Austin Kelly to my Christmas wish list – for a review click here.

As for future gymnastics sessions we’d like to try to:

  • make our own ribbon stick as per these instructions at
  • create our own balance beam (for pipecleaner people) – a fun idea that could easily be extended to other gymnastic equipment, from Kaboose.
  • Note 1: This Michael Rosen shouldn’t be confused with Michael J. Rosen, an American author, who has also written poetry for children – we’ll have to return to him another day!

    Note 2: Michael Rosen is on the judging panel of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, which I mentioned in my post about Tickle the Duck. The 2009 winners of the Roald Dahl Funny prize were announced last week and they are:

  • For children aged six and under, Mr Pusskins Best in Show by Sam Lloyd
  • For children aged seven to fourteen, Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jim Paillot
  • This week’s Poetry Friday host is The Drift Record – do head on over there to find some links to other new discoveries (not just for children), and if you’ve time to leave me a comment, I’d love to know which authors would make it on to your short list of 8 should you be cast away on a desert island…

    3 Responses

    1. Kristine

      Oh what fun. We often turn our lounge room into a playground for the dolls – with steps, slides, bouncy bridges, trampolines … When my oldest was a baby I use to make big mountains out of the sofa cushions to climb over and tunnels to climb through but we haven’t done that for years. I think she’d enjoy it. I like how you followed it up with a drawing to help retell it to Dad.
      My authors to save – Patricia Cornwell – not sure what she’d be like for company but I do enjoy her forensic detective novels.
      And a kids author Mem Fox – not so much for her children’s story but she’s a wonderful advocate for reading good quality literature to children and putting children first. Check out this article. Also if you have a chance on her website it has her reading some of her stories.

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