Seagull Seagull


‘The little ships/ From the harbour sail/ Bang in the teeth/ Of a southerly gale’ describes James K. Baster. ‘The Ships’ is one of the accessible, image and sensation rich poems by James K. Baxter included in Seagull Seagull.

While this poet is a household name in his native New Zealand, his works merit a wider appreciation. Their perfect rhyme and rhythm are easy and warm. Furthermore he summons up views and experiences which we understand or could imagine. Spring- Heeled Jack, for example, had boots,.. ‘fitted with springs: He could fly/ Like a bird with wings.‘ Meanwhile Jack Frost is there to get us when we come ‘out of school.‘ Though ‘we dance and skip/He’s waiting there/ To pinch and nip.’ 

Kieran Rynhart’s pictures are sunlit with nostalgia, atmosphere and wonder. Altogether Seagull Seagull is a gorgeous celebration of wonderful poetry. Bookwagon recommends this title for bedtime reading, reciting and sharing, and as a perfect reading gift.

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Seagull Seagull

Poems by James K. Baxter

Illustrated by Kieran Rynhart

(Gecko Press)– hardback

Seagull Seagull riding high./ What do you see/ With your bold, bright eye’.  Bookwagon welcomes a beautiful collection of poems by New Zealand’s foremost children’s poet, James K. Baxter. Kieran Rynhart presents his selection within lush, empathetic settings. Therefore, within ‘If I Were the King of Sweden’  a pair ‘breakfast on marshmallow/ And have the same for tea.’ Meanwhile, in the foreground stands a large, battered utility where a child imagines, dreams… Across a double-page roar ‘Twenty Little engines/ Whistling in the yard‘. Thereafter,  ‘Spring-heeled Jack‘ jumps into a spotlit circle, ‘higher than anyone/ Else in the town.’
There’s a directness in James K. Baxter’s poetry that makes his works particularly accessible. Furthermore, he neither embellishes nor chooses subjects that are unreachable. Therefore, we can imagine the ships that ‘wash to and fro:/ Drum, drum, drum,/ Say the engines below.’ His rhyme is distinctive and his imagery immediate so that we are there.
Bookwagon suggests every child would enjoy the warmth and possibilities of James K. Baxter’s works for is something universal in his writing. For example in ‘The Gorse Fire’, a feared occurrence for New Zealanders, the poet’s words ensure we realise this fear, ‘A little thing flame/ Came galloping fast/ Then roared up higher/Than the top of a mast.’  One of the wonders of poetry is its universality of feeling and experience.  Bookwagon is delighted to welcome and recommend Seagull Seagull. 


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