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Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield and Ehsan Abdollahi

 

Happy National Poetry Day!

This year we were delighted that our book Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me won Highly Commended in the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award). Thinker is a collection of poems that tell a story about a young boy called Jace and his puppy Thinker. But unlike most dogs, Thinker is a poet – and so is Jace!  We loved seeing children from St Mary’s Primary School perform the poem ‘Thinker’s Rap’ at the award ceremony.

This National Poetry Day, we want to encourage all children to become poetry enthusiasts! Reading aloud or even performing poetry is a great way to get a feel for the rhythm and sound of the words. Why don’t you try reading some of the poems in Thinker out loud? We’ve put together some ideas for how you can explore Thinker by reading the different poems out loud.

The poem ‘Two Poets Talking’ might offer you some inspiration. In this poem, Thinker and Jace are discussing poetry. Jace says:

When I recite my poems,

I make music. I say the words

fast or slow, high or low,

I stop and I go, almost

like singing, making

word-music.

As this poem says, poetry is a lot like music – the rhythm and how the words sound are just as important as the meaning, and often add to it. Try out different ways of reading this poem: fast or slow, high or low, with long or short pauses at the end of each line. Try reading it with different rhythms, placing emphasis on different words.

Sometimes a poem is more like a conversation. In ‘Tell Me, Jace’ and ‘Jace’s Answer’, Thinker asks Jace to explain the world to him, and Jace replies that he doesn’t know – he’s only seven after all! You can try doing distinctive voices for the different characters in the book. What would a puppy sound like if he could talk? Would his words come out like a bark or a growl? Play around with it and have fun!

The last poem in Thinker is ‘Thinker’s Rap’. You can watch the brilliant performance by students from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School below:

Their performance really captures the rhythm of the poem. They used some instrumental backing music, A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Can I Kick It?’, which works wonderfully with the poem. You can play the music they used on YouTube here:

‘Thinker’s Rap’ is a great poem for exploring rhythm, as well as adding your own movements, clicks and snaps. Don’t feel like you need to memorise all of it. Larger groups of children can try reading it as a group, taking one line each or reading in unison. Reading out loud can be scary – children might find it embarrassing to read in front of others at first. But just like Jace and Thinker, if you stop worrying about what others will think of your performance, you can have a lot of fun.

We hope Thinker has inspired you to try reading a poem out loud! You could even try writing your own animal poem. Do you have a pet? If it could talk, what would it say? We’d love to see your poetry performance or any Thinker-inspired poems you’ve written! Send them to us at info@tinyowl.co.uk or tweet us at @TinyOwl_Books.

  • ‘I fell in love with Thinker!’ An interview with Eloise Greenfield
  • Read a review: A ten year old student gives his thoughts on Thinker
  • Read a review: ‘Thinker’ celebrates difference and uniqueness!
  • Read a review by IBBY UK: Thinker is warm and lively!

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