When the Bell Goes


It might be that you’re keen to marry your teacher, or aware you are the teacher’s pet, with your hand permanently raised. It might be that ‘your nose is blocked/ Closed and clogged and locked’ or you’ve a friend, Tummy Ache is is ‘always there’ for ‘you, getting you out of ‘maths and history’ or  ‘washing up’.

Then again, you might be a Legomaniac, with ‘houses, castles, mansions, towers’ or red bricks, green bricks, white bricks blue bricks’. If so, you’d be unlikely to be so bothered about the day your class was scheduled to use the school Jungle Gym.

Neal Zetter turns his poetry pen to remembering, observing and recalling school days, childhood days, from Bathtime, when his ‘big toes stick up through the taps’ to recalling ‘watching in amazement/ As Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon’. 

What’s more, he remembers playtimes and school times, the start of a school day to its end. Thereafter, he remembers teachers, from the ‘shouty’ ones to those he sought to marry.

These are poems to be read alone, laughed over, shared aloud and recited. Furthermore, Emily Ford’s expressive illustrations make these poems pertinent and active.

Bookwagon recommends When the Bell Goes to readers at home, and school, especially.

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When the Bell Goes

Poems by Neal Zetter, illustrated by Emily Ford

(Troika Books)

Imagine what it’s like when you’re last in the register, with a surname that begins with Z! This is the situation for poet, Neal Zetter as he takes us into school with When the Bell Goes. Thereafter, following Good Morning! with calling of the register, we’re off to assembly, where there’s a warning not to talk- ‘Do not blather/ Do not babble/ Now I’m not going to tell you again!’
Yet what if you’re in a hurry, and it might be a Bad Morning made worse because your Big Sister’s in the Bathroom– ‘Hear me holler, scream and shout/ Is she ever coming out?’
Then what if you attend a school where your ‘Teacher is a Caveman’– a ‘hairy scary sight’? Or again, there’s a Mr Shoutyteacher– ‘more noisy than a sonic boom’? Thereafter, what about when it’s time to knuckle down to work, where you employ Delaying Tactics, such as ‘Do we add our name Sir? And our class? – do we do this in our literacy books or our rough books?’- do we need to leave a margin?’
Like A Kid in My Class, it seems that When the Bell Goes employs memory and observation to create sharp, varied, raps, rhymes and poems. This is the stuff of the every day, from choosing shoes to being brave enough to declare I Hate Football. Thereafter, Neal Zetter offers the opportunity for readers to enjoy his writing alone, through performance, recall and then discussion too. What’s more, Emily Ford’s illustrations bring sharp, comic relief to the works, alongside the writer’s anecdotes and comments. Bookwagon recommends this title to schools, particularly.


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