illustrated by Nicolas Bentley
Old Possumís Childrenís Poetry Competition 2008
On the theme of ‘Work’ for children aged 7-11 years
To link with the theme of National Poetry Day 2008, the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf asked children
aged 7-11 years to write a poem on the theme of ‘Work’.
Pictured (l-r) here are Lewis Miller, Chloe Cobham, Francesco Loy Bell, Yusuf Steel, Clara de Montfort, Mimi Henry, Adrian Blanco, Luke Povey and Adam Johnstone at the prize-giving ceremony at the Unicorn theatre. With them are Michael Rosen and Andrew Fusek Peters, the world's tallest children's poet!
Chair of the judges Michael Rosen said of this year's entries: "What a terrific set of poems with a wide range of feeling and thought. One minute we were laughing, the next we were amazed. One moment we were in the land of the impossible, the next in the land of the very real."
This year also saw the introduction of a new International Learners category specifically for children based outside the UK who are learning English as a foreign or second language. Nearly 3,000 entries were received from schools and individual children
from China, the Ukraine, India, Turkey , Romania, and all around the world.
Below, you can read the winning and highly commended poems in each age group and UK/International Learners categories.
Winners 9-11: UK
Highly Commended 9-11: UK
Winners 7-8: UK
Highly Commended 7-8: UK
Winners 9-11: International
Highly Commended 9-11: International
Winners 7-8: International
Highly Commended 7-8: International
Please love me
I live in a battlefield
Please feed me
I eat in a battlefield
Please help me
I work in a battlefield
Please free me
I play in a battlefield
Please educate me
I learn in a battlefield
By Lewis Miller, aged 9 (First Prize winner)
Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Northern Rock,
Rest In Peace
The dominance of the titanic buildings fade.
A withered hand,
clutching a pyramid of notes.
Paper, spiralling through the air.
The sickly odour of dependency
seeps through the walls.
Unblinking eyes stare.
Numbers dance across the screen.
A tsunami of stillness,
a hurricane of helplessness,
ripped ambitions strewn
across an empty pavement.
Deafening ripples of silence.
The wheels of wealth
skid across the tarmac.
A high pitched noise of labour lost.
The glass shatters.
By Francesco Loy Bell, aged 11 (Second Prize winner)
The Clock Never Stops...
I watched a clock working its way to the top TICK-TOCK
I watched both hands moving like a windmill TICK-TOCK
I listened to the low pitched melodic chimes TICK-TOCK
I listened to the minutes chipping away like a woodpecker TICK-TOCK
I smelt the polish, redolent of a pine forest TICK-TOCK
I smelt the prickly dust, tickling my nose TICK-TOCK
I felt the smoothness of the fresh, shining wood TICK-TOCK
I felt the coolness, tingling the tips of my fingers TICK-TOCK
This grandfather clock just never stops working TICK-TOCK
By Clara de Montfort, aged 11 (Third Prize Winner)
My dad is a bank robber.
My mum is a thief.
And now my house is full
Of stolen handkerchiefs.
You’re standing in the street
My father comes along.
He taps you on the shoulder
And BANG your purse is gone.
Poor old Northern Rock
They say it’s a credit crunch.
But actually my mum nicked the cash
And was back in time for lunch.
My sister grabs a water gun
And demands shed loads of sweets
They give her mountains of the stuff
And she’s off her head for weeks.
My mum is in jail now
The rest are on the run.
But one job welcomed me with open arms
And now I’m a policeman.
By Mimi Henry, aged 10
Working in the World
The lilies in the valley were strangling me like I was being
The sun was as hot as a flaming fire in a dark cold night.
The hot and sticky tube train was crammed with people.
She had hot and clammy hands from doing the dirty gardening.
The old lady was harassed from doing jobs all day.
Miss Fryer was contentedly marking English books.
The factory is clogging up the air with pollution.
In English I wrote a tragic poem.
The blazing sun beat down on the sweaty villagers.
The young boy was playing rugby on a field with sky as black as ink.
The waterfall was throwing bucket loads of water down on the crystal lake.
The volcano was about to erupt with smouldering, bubbling lava.
The peacock’s feathers were like ten eyes on one body.
The stag-beetle startled me with its viscious ways.
By Chloe Cobham, aged 9
Based on the true story of Iqbal Masih
My thread falters across diamond shapes.
Hurry up boy and stay awake!
Aching arms and open sky
How I wish my kite would fly
when I have paid my father’s debt
all lines rubbed out, nothing left.
A stinging back
I grit my teeth and prepare for a whack
Stripes on my carpet
Stripes on my back
My stripes are red
The carpet’s are black.
But work is not done
The pain is sharp but my fingers slept
So up the carpet man leaps
and I am hauled to my feet.
Darkness fills my throat and ears
The cupboard walls sing my tears.
Hours later, boys sneak some bread
My eyes ache in my carpet head.
When I’m let out it’s time for bed
‘Learnt your lesson?’ the carpetman said.
For the others he rubs off one
but when I awake it’s still not gone
I’m the only one who can read
‘Teach us’ all the others plead
One day we will break free
and ride my carpet to the sea.
By Yusuf Steel, aged 8 (First Prize winner)
Car in the Pit Stop
Roaring round the track
Crashes on the corner
In the driver’s seat
Run out of fuel
In the pit
Ready steady go
By Adam Johnstone, aged 7 (Second Prize winner)
A digger works hard to shift all the soil
It goes so deep it may strike oil.
Before your eyes the hole gets Bigger,
Deeper and deeper goes the digger.
My hole is Finished, the digger’s work is done.
I’m off for a tea break and a jammie bun.
By Luke Povey, aged 8 (Third Prize winner)
Builders are working, children are eating,
Builders stop, children work, school ends.
Kids are friends. God made us and he
It took 7 days in heaven.
God risked his life at the tip of a knife.
He loved us and he loved his world.
Luke, Corey, Ellen, Megan and I are friends.
This is how the story ends.
My life is great, it’s like a golden gate.
By Jay Houston, aged 7
Every morning, bright and early
I sweep the streets of London.
Rain, sun, wind, snow
I work all day in London.
I sweep the leaves in autumn.
I sweep the snow in winter.
I sweep the flowers in spring.
I sweep the dust in summer.
All day, every day
I sweep the streets in London.
Sweep, sweep, sweep.
By Adrian Blanco, aged 7
The photographer takes photos,
Photos of animals:
A lion, a dog,
A tiger and a frog.
The little photographer
And the beautiful kids
Of very old trees.
The photographer is at the seaside.
He sees a beautiful butterfly.
He takes a photo of the beach,
Then of a little red fish.
By Tudor Cristian Pop, aged 11, from
Cluj-Napoca, Romania (First Prize winner)
Ayhan works a lot,
In a repair work shop.
He doesn’t want to work,
He wants to play,
He wants to go to school.
He misses mum’s kisses,
In the morning.
Two little brothers he has.
He dreams of being the Captain of a very big ship.
By Aysesu Sicimoglu, aged 10, from Istanbul, Turkey (Second Prize winner)
Bakers bake bread for people
Because people like fresh bread and cakes.
They wake up early in the morning
To knead the dough and make good bread.
It is very hot in the baker’s
It smells of vanilla and sugar.
The bakers sing while they knead,
Thinking of the joy of children.
By Tudor Frent, aged 10, from Cluj-Napoca, Romania (Third Prize winner)
A big dim office:
my mind came to rescue me
from my big dark dreams.
By Pilar Justo, aged 11, from Argentina
When my Mom is Working
What colour is a night?
What colour is a day?
Both are black
if my Mom is away.
I am just eight,
I am not ten,
But I understand
She has to work –
to provide the family well.
What colour is a day?
What colour is a night?
When my Mom comes back –
Both are bright.
By Max Kondziolka, aged 8, from Lviv, Ukraine (First Prize winner)
I am a computer, I work too quick
E-mail and Internet, an easy click.
Tickety Tickety Tick
If you touch me, I’m so smooth,
If you punch me, I’ll blow
If you clean me, I’ll glow
I’m like your assistant.
When I’m happy, I give you a Beep
When something goes wrong, I go Boop.
That’s all I do.
By Cyril Kumaar, aged 8, from Jiangsu Province, China (Second Prize winner)
A Fisherman’s Tale
There is a fisherman, who gets up at the crack of dawn.
Out of the house and on his lawn.
Feeds his goat,
And takes out his boat.
Watching the moon set –
In the lake he throws his net.
Hoping to get a fish,
Not to land on his dish,
But to sell it in the market.
Twelve fishes a day is his target.
All day he does sail
Come storm or hale.
Every day he gets only a pound,
But he does not complain or make a sound.
He returns home at seven,
Which is his heaven.
His wife gives him ale,
Listening to his morning’s tale.
Then on his rough hands she gives him a kiss
Although it smells only of fish.
By Sagnik Bhattacharya, aged 8, from Kolkata, India (Third Prize winner)
Do you know what work bakers do?
Bakers make bread and pies as tasty as they can.
Do you know what rain clouds do?
They make rain as fast as they can.
Do you know what grannies do?
They look after their grandchildren.
Do you know what parrots do?
They squawk all day.
Do you know what the sun does?
The sun shines all day.
Do you know what the wind does?
It blows fresh air every day!
Do you know what work my mother does?
She works in a bank everyday!
Can you guess what work my father does?
He sells motorbikes islandwide!
Have you seen the moon in the night
Working hard giving us a silvery light?
And do you know what type of work I’d like to do?
I’d like to sweep the whole house just for you!
By Bhavya Kulathunga, aged 7, from Sri Lanka
The Old Possum’s Children’s Poetry Competition is generously supported by Old Possum’s Practical Trust.