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Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble: Magical Poems – Paul Cookson Blog Tour Book Review

About the Book

Can you hear the distant dragon’s rumble of thunder? And smell the sweet swampy aroma of the ogre? Can you taste the tangy tarantula tarts? And see the girl who’s really a wizard? From magic carpets and wands to unicorns, potions, creams and lotions, Paul Cookson’s brewing a spell of fantastically magic poems. On this tattered magic carpet You can choose your destination For nothings quite as magical As your imagination 

Beautifully illustrated, this enchanting anthology brings together work from a range of classic, established and rising poets including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Valerie Bloom, Matt Goodfellow, Joshua Seigal and A.F. Harrold. Whether you’re in the mood for a haunting or a spell gone wrong, this collection of mesmerising poems will have you bewitched from beginning to end!

Front cover

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54968419-fire-burn-cauldron-bubble

About the Author

Paul Cookson


The poems were chosen and compiled by Paul Cookson who also appears as an author.

Paul Cookson lives in Retford with his wife, two children, a dog and several ukuleles. He has worked as a poet since 1989 and has visited thousands of schools and performed to hundreds of thousands of pupils and staff. Paul is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum, the Poetry Ambassador for United Learning and Poet Laureate for Slade. He worked as the Poet for Everton Collection at Liverpool Library, was Poet in Residence for Literacy Times Plus and, as part of the National Year of Reading, was nominated a National Reading Hero and received his award at 10 Downing Street. Paul has 60 titles to his name and poems that appear in over 200 other books. His work has taken him all over the world from Argentina, Uganda and Malaysia to France, Germany and Switzerland.

About the Illustrator


The illustrations are by Eilidh Muldoon a freelance illustrator based in Scotland who gained her MFA from Edinburgh College of Art where she now teaches.

What I Thought


From the silly to the spooky, to the sinister this collection of poems is perfect for the witching season. As with any collection of poems some speak to you more than others but there is an excellent mix included between classic and new poems.

Endpapers

The book itself is stunningly bought to life by the illustrations from Eilidh Muldoon. From its striking pumpkin orange, with black block print, cover to the endpapers and the whimsical illustrations such as this one to illustrate ‘A Cold Spell’.

Illustration by Eilidh Muldoon


A few of my favourite poems were:

The silly – I once asked a wizard to make me a sandwich by Graham Denton

The sinister – Ooshus Magooshus by Jason Seigal which warns of Stranger danger

The artistic – Magic Love Potion by Liz Brownlee Shaped like a potion bottle

The cute – The Cool Dragon by Jo Mularczyk reminds me of that John Lewis ad

The classic and the pastiche – Song of the Witches by Shakespeare, and the homage which adds the subtitle (when the internet wasn’t working) by Stan Cullimore

The rhyme and atmosphere made by Witchy Magic by Mary Serenc

If you are at all squeamish you might not like Oh How I Love a Unicorn by Paul Cookson!! So follow it up with How to Cast a Spell if you are Vegetarian by Roger Stevens

The Magic Kitchen Carpet by Paul Cookson that speaks of the immense joy and adventure that our imagination brings.

But I think my top two are This is my Library by Angela Topping and Somewhere in the Library by Stewart Henderson which espouse the magic of books and the cast the librarian as a bewitching creature who is ‘a gatherer of magic and a confidante of elves’.
Thank you to Bloomsbury and Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours for the copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

Blog Tour Banner

Wonderland Blog Tour – Book Review

Good morning and welcome to my spot on the blog tour for this anthology of work inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 
I think most people are somewhat familiar with the original stories. My first introduction to Alice, I’m fairly sure, was via the Disney animated film, and to be honest I’m not convinced if I’ve even fully read the original stories. I really must rectify that soon (would love a MinaLima to design an edition btw). The genre bending children’s fantasy, has definite horrific aspects and many a joke has been made about what Carroll was on when he wrote these tales. They are a true classic, and have been a springboard for many a spin off or retelling both on film, and on the page. 
The majority of the works in this anthology are short stories although these are bookended by two poems by Jane Yolen. The second of which I preferred. Some of the tales may be better appreciated by people who are familiar with the originals but despite this most can stand alone. 
I was only familiar with 3 of the 20 names associated and so I had the pleasure of being introduced to other authors, some of whose other work I am now likely to seek out as a result. 
There is something for everyone in here, but as with most short story collections perhaps not everything will be for everyone. Stories that although are well written, don’t quite make that connection. There’s historical, contemporary and futuristic tales in fantasy, science fiction, horror, historical and more. Topics such as capitalism and child abuse are discovered. Not be shelved in the children’s section next to the original. And most of the characters from Hatter to Cheshire, The Jabberwock, and even the more obscure Walrus, appear in one form or another across these tales. For me there were many more hits than misses and I will mention a few of the hits next. 
First up is the author I was most familiar with – MR Carey with There Were No Birds to Fly. The tonal similarity with his other works was apparent. That apocalyptic creepiness. Oddly this was the least recognisable in terms of its connection to the original, until the very end. Carey shows that being inspired by something can still lead to a highly original story. 
Next was Genevieve Cogman. I was aware of her and have her Invisible Library series waiting on my TBR. Her tale The White Queen’s Pawn had a wry and dark humour, and a be careful what you wish for moral. I definitely plan to bump her tales up the list. 
And the stand out for me was Cavan Scott’s Dream Girl. I won’t mention the genre as that is sort of a spoiler in itself but it was perfection. It reminded me of  the Wizard of Oz/Wicked retelling and I would love to be able to read a longer work based on what this becomes at the end of the story. 
Thank you to Titan for the gifted review copy and to editors Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane for bringing this together. Do check out the rest of the blog tour stops to see which stories stood out to everyone else. 

Kibo*

We still see stars shine

when they are gone. So we can

see you in your dark.

.

A patch of clear floor,

in a crowded, messy room 

clears space in my mind.

.

You may feel alone

but orbiting you are those

who can pull you close. 

.

Galaxies form from

words on a page, opening 

up more world to me. 

.

A shout, the void hears.

Fall onto a black hole and

friction makes you shine. 

.

One small step for most

is a massive leap for some.

Cheer ev-er-y inch. 

.

Astronauts need teams

to stay safe in the expanse 

of space. There’s as much

.

unexplored in our

brains. Humanity wants to

find others like us.

.

‘Living with’ is a 

mantra for alien thoughts 

that invade. Come in

.

Peace not pieces, pick

up the flag. I was here. We

shall live together. 

.

*nickname for the Japanese Science module on the ISS. Means hope.

Written back in April – shared tonight to remind myself whilst struggling. 

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