Bill Nagelkerke, The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Copy Press, 2019
HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill. See below if you want to put your name in the hat to be picked.
At night I look up at the sky,
I see the moon and stars sweep by.
I take the universe to bed,
And keep it safe inside my head.
A former librarian, Bill Nagelkerke is a busy children’s author, publishing fiction for children of all ages, and translating children’s books from Dutch (including a number of Gecko titles such as the magnificent Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede). I discovered Bill’s poetry in the School Journal and was instantly attracted to his deft and playful use of words. I included his poems in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children and and am now delighted to see he has a debut children’s poetry collection out.
In 2013 Nagelkerke was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award in recognition of his dedicated contribution to children’s literature and literacy in New Zealand.
I was very happy to write a small blurb for Bill’s book so some of my words of praise are singing on the cover. I loved the way
in The Night the Moon Fell Down words fizz, lines glide, rhymes sizzle. You will find soccer balls, winter cats and concrete cakes; there are bottled stars adventure parks and elephant rocks. Bill Nagelkirke is a poetry wizard.
Looking at poetry on a screen is never the same as holding a book and seeing how the words and white space fit on the page with the illustrations. The images have personalities of their own just like poems; there are photographs, drawings, silhouettes, prints, things I can’t identify. They are dark and light and intriguing.
Why do I love Bill’s poetry? I love it because his poems dance with life, humour, imagination, stories. Sometimes they start with a simple idea – like switching on the light at night – and then produce an image that is warm in your mind. He is a wizard at this.
One quick flick
One sharp click
One small bulb of light
Scares away the big, dark night
Authors often get asked where they get their ideas from – I think poems have starting points, leaping pads – and it seems Bill’s come from both his own experience and his inventive mind. There is a poem about his dad (which may or may not be about his actual dad!) who loves making jokes by making puns (when a word has more than one meaning as in ‘kneads’ and ‘needs’). The poem’s last line makes me hope this is a little biography because it is tender link between father and son!
(My dad loves words as well.)
Bill can take a subject that a universe of poets have written poems about (think the rain, the stars, cats, rocks, leaves) and make the subject fresh. I picked his poem ‘Rain’ for the Treasury because the image sparks all my senses and the lines both surprise and delight me. I love the opening lines:
I like the straight-down
Some poems are puzzles. I mean they really are puzzles such as ‘A picture-puzzler poem’. This might be a new poem form. I want to give it a go! So inventive!
Some poems surprise, especially with similes and metaphors. I love the poem ‘Parcel’. Holland is a parcel that gets unwrapped every Christmas – Holland gets unwrapped! The parcel gets unwrapped as do memories. The gift calendar shows a snowy Dutch December but here in New Zealand things are different. I love the way this poem got me musing.
I also love the way one word sometimes chimes through a Bill-Nagelkerke poem like a musical note and then leaves you with a startling image.
‘Wipe your shoes
All over the mat.’
The leaves in the forest
Are like that mat.
The arrival of a collection of poetry for children is a rare treat in Aotearoa and is an extra special treat when the book is by an author whose poetry you have long admired. I see this collection as a treasury in its own right.
You can dip in and find just the right poem for the day’s weather, for your mood, to spark you to write your own poems or to remind you how delicious words are. Some poems made me laugh, some poems made me sit still and savour an image, some poems made me thoughtful. Some poems made me look back at the world I am used to and see it in new lights. This is the joy and magic of poetry.
Yes Bill Nagelkerke is a poetry wizard and this book ought to be in every school library and the hands of every child who loves poetry gymnasiums.
In a forest of tall bamboo,
HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill. I will pick one child to interview him and I will post the interview on my blog.
If you want to be picked send your name, year, age and school to email@example.com
Don’t forget to put Bill interview in email subject line.
Deadline: Thursday 17th October