the_moon_spun_round“The Moon Spun Round – W. B. Yeats For Children” is a new illustrated book from the O’Brien Press. It features poems, folk tales, childhood writing and some information on W. B. Yeats and his family.

Having been born and raised in the “Yeats County” of Sligo and having grown up learning and performing the poems and plays of W.B. Yeats, I looked forward to reading and reviewing this book.

Deriving its name from the Yeats poem “The Cat and the Moon”, this hardback book is edited by Dr. Noreen Doody, an expert on the works of W. B. Yeats. She has selected some well-known and some not as well known poems of the Nobel Laureate. Included in the collection are poems like “The Fiddler of Dooney”, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “The Wild Swans at Coole” and “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” among others.

Most of the poems included in this collection pay tribute to Yeats’ special interest in the magical and the mystical and the faery world. Set against named places and natural landmarks, this collection seeks to achieve what Yeats set out to do, “fill these places with his own imaginative stories”.

While the poems included in the collection are aimed at children, I’d love to have seen more of his early poems included, ballads which are readily accessible to children. Poems like “The Ballad of Father Gilligan”, “The Ballad of Moll Magee” and perhaps “Down By the Sally Gardens” would have added another element to the collection.

However, there are some interesting inclusions in this collection which surprise and which children will like. There’s a nice short story called “The Man and His Boots” which I hadn’t heard before and which children will enjoy as it’s like a small ghost story, perfect for Hallowe’en! There’s also a folk tale called “The Wisdom of the King” with mystical and magical overtones.

Apart from the written word, the strength of this collection is the presentation and illustration of Yeats’ poems and stories. Illustrated by Waterford-based artist Shona Shirley MacDonald, the design and illustrations illuminate and complement the text. Faery worlds and faery creatures come to life through the colourful illustrations which surround the text and this will instantly appeal to children.

The production values and finish brought to this book by the publisher is of a high standard, standards which would sit comfortably compared to any international competitors. A superb surprise to the overall package contained in the book is that the book jacket, when removed, opens up to become an illustrated poster with the text of the Yeats poem “Where My Books Go”:

All the words that I gather,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken’d or starry bright.

The poster would look great displayed in the school library or the library corner in the classroom.

This collection would be well worth having in the school library or the class library but perhaps especially on the teacher’s bookshelf. Poetry is best received when it is read aloud and the Introduction to this books tells us that Yeats believed that “a poem without its rhythm is not a poem”.

The poems and stories contained in this collection would benefit from being read aloud by the teacher. They could be used as a stimulus for creative writing or for poetry writing in the classroom. Pupils could be inspired by the illustrations in the collection to take a favourite Yeats poem of their own, illustrate it and display it in the classroom. I’m sure that there are lots of other creative ways which teachers could use this book as a resource in the classroom.

“The Moon Spun Round” is available from October 3rd in bookshops or from the O’Brien Press website HERE priced at €19.99

Disclaimer: The book for this review was supplied by the publisher, O’ Brien Press. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.