Today is World Poetry Day, and in light of everything that is going on in the world at the moment, I thought I would share a positive read with you all. ‘The Deepest Breath’ by Meg Grehan came to my attention as it was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020. It is a 9-12 read but written entirely in free verse poetry – not a page of prose in sight!
Eleven-year-old Stevie is struggling to understand her place in the world. She is an anxious person and, worrying she doesn’t know enough about the world around her to be okay, she reads and reads, storing away fact after fact – particularly about the ocean and it’s inhabitants. But there are some questions she just doesn’t know where to go for the answers – like why she gets a funny sensation in her tummy every time she sees her friend Chloe at school…
A beautifully written book full of sensitivity and understanding, showing that love comes in many different ways. The perfect book to press into the hands of young people and old. A loving read (I cried on more than one occasion) and a powerful one. Meg handles sensitive topics, such as coming to terms with your own sexuality, learning to manage anxiety and family communications, with incredible positivity. A precious read.
The verse format allows for a simplicity in the language, a raw and honest tone that suits 11-year-old Stevie – giving us access to her thoughts and feelings, free from barriers. The entire book has a purity, with the words running over the page as her thoughts swirl in her head. This creates an emotional accessibility to the emotions conveyed.
One of the things I loved most was the portrayal of the support books can give you and the security of places like the library. With World Book Day a couple of weeks ago it’s been busy at work with kids coming in with their tokens to collect their free books. It struck me hard how many children don’t actually get the opportunity to read or visit a bookstore. A privilege it is easy to take for granted. Their free world book day copy may well be the first book of their own, and choosing it may have been their first trip to a bookstore… The comfort that Stevie takes from reading in ‘The Deepest Breath’ and the excitement of the kids at work, swapping their tokens for books, reminded me how passionate I am about encouraging children to read and providing them with the opportunities to do so. Knowledge is power after all and adventures give perspective – magic included! Most importantly though they offer role models, the chance to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and the ability to experience multiple emotions, helping you to navigate the rocky path that is life.
Happy World Poetry Day and look forward to seeing you soon!
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Meg Readz xx