Old Possum,
illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Old Possumís Childrenís Poetry Competition 2010

This competition for children aged 7 – 11 took the ‘Home’ theme of National Poetry Day as its inspiration. Children were invited to submit their poems on the theme of ‘home’ by the closing date of 15th October 2010. A panel of 5 judges, chaired by Roger McGough, then selected the winners in two age groups: 7-8 and 9-11. There were also two categories – one for UK or English speaking children and an ‘International Learners’ category for children learning English as a second or foreign language.

The Children’s Poetry Bookshelf held a gala celebration and prize-giving event in London on 10th December, hosted by poets Roger McGough and James Carter who were also both judges of the competition. The winning young poets were presented with their cash and book prizes and read their poems to an audience of friends, family, teachers and children from local schools.

Read the prize-winning poems below. Click here to read the winning poems from the International Learners category.

7-8 Year Old Age Group Winning Poems: UK/Native English Speakers

1st Prize Poem: Homelands by Hugo Grundy
2nd Prize Poem: My Grandparents’ Home by Sarah Fox
3rd Prize Poem: Home by Michael Hills
Highly Commended: My Home by James Black
Highly Commended: Jack’s House by Jack Sharpe


We have our coats and hats on.
Strolling along the white river –
snow is like fingers on a piano.

It looks like a closed down shop
in the light of the lunar day.
Our feet in boots – plodding and crushing
and shrinking – are silent.
We want to stand with trees
for a million years.

One day, they might build shops
where the river is.
These pointed spears of snow-grass
could be shot over ice-river lands
to become boats never to return.

Birds and fish, under ice,
might find wild, imaginary places
where only they can go.
And might call those places
‘Dubbledaab’, for a sound of home.
For the sound of the song
of the chewing water-ice.

In this snow white, river light
we stampede the river – drop enormous rocks
to release running water until it’s dark.
With soaking trousers
and solid, ice-bell fingers
we can’t even feel.

By Hugo Grundy, aged 8, from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

The prize-winning young poets and judges (left to right, back row: James Carter, Roger McGough, Daniel Bainbridge. Left to right front row: Freya Wilson, James Black, Hugo Grundy, Sarah Mercer, Michael Hills, Alastair Millar and William Johnson). Photo © Adrian Pope 2010

My Grandparents’ Home

When we go to Mama and Papa’s house
We get up early and see how dark it is outside
On the airplane I look out of the window
and all the cars racing by on the highway are little ants.
It rains when we go there
and we stay up to hear the droplets pattering peacefully on the roof.
One year it hailed.
That was fun.
I turned to my grandfather and said, “I’m glad we don’t have to leave today!”
I help my grandmother cook and clean the house.
I like to look at all the little knickknacks.
She sees me looking at them and says,
“Oh, you can have that!”
When I go to Mama and Papa’s house, I’m at home.

By Sarah Fox, aged 8, from Raleigh, North Carolina, USA


Hearing my dad on the computer.
Hearing the quiet buzz of the heater.
Hearing the cars rushing past.
I know I am home.

Smelling paint as I walk past the wall.
Smelling the food being cooked.
I know I am home.

Touching the peach wall when I walk in.
Touching my toys and start playing with them.
I know I am home.

Setting the food on the table ready to eat.
Seeing the furry stairs in the corridor.
I know I am home.

By Michael Hills, aged 8, from Yateley Manor, Hampshire

My Home

Guess who am I?
My home is a nest,
And I have wings.
I try to squeek
When my daddy sings.
Think what I am called,
Pronounce a word.
You may have guessed
I am a ... (bird).

My home is hidden
In deep blue sea.
I am very big
But you are safe around me.
I splash the water
With my tail.
You may have guessed
I am a ... (whale).

My home is a sty
And I have a big belly.
I cannot fly
And I’m a bit smelly.
I like to wallow
And I like to dig.
You may have guessed
I am a ... (pig).

By James Black, aged 7, from Magdalen College Boys School, Oxford

Jack’s House

I am a house and a home
The people that live in me are so noisy
They slam the doors like they just don’t care
It’s giving me a headache!
So cold, when they open the fridge it freezes me half to death.
I love to play tricks on them when the rain falls
I let it in and it dribbles all over the floor.
When they turn the TV on the electricity flows through me.
It gives me a shock.

By Jack Sharpe, aged 8, from St Bernard’s School, Birmingham.

9-11 Year Old Age GroupWinning Poems: UK/Native English Speakers

1st Prize Poem: In my room, at night by Alastair Millar
2nd Prize Poem: English Dictionary by Freya Wilson
3rd Prize Poem: Longing by Daniel Bainbridge
Highly Commended: Home by William Johnson
Highly Commended: Home by Sarah Mercer

In my room, at night

In the night,
when the magic comes,
the ice-coloured toy cars
shoot round the race tracks
and flash their lights as they flip off the ramps.

The dolls cheerlead
for the watching crowd of beloved cuddly toys,
while the brass band plays “Yellow Submarine”
on their tin trumpets and purple plastic saxophones.

The lego people build orange bridges
for the train to go over the cracks between the floorboards,
carrying the mini model children away from the noisy race.
They get out at the bookshelf
where the rabbits are reading comics.

This is what happens
in my room,
at night.

By Alastair Millar, aged 9, from Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, London

Roger McGough entertains the audience with his poetry. Photo © Adrian Pope 2010

English Dictionary

‘Home – Noun
Your suburban wasteland, where siblings lurk in every corner,
It’s framed with coffee mug rings, and memories.
Here, by the stairs, where you took your first steps as a toddling tot of two;
There, on the kitchen table. Do you remember daubing your name in garish red paint?
And look! This is where you’ve sat and dreamed for as long as time goes back.
As you pass the bookshelf and finger tales eternal as God,
And you squabble and scrap over doesn’t-matter-now qualms,
Something whispers in the tone of the murmur of leaves,
“You are home.”’
Snap! The dictionary slams shut.

By Freya Wilson, aged 11, from St Paul’s Girls’ School, London


He’d do anything to pass by that crimson rose bush
And admire the flowers that face to the light.
But he’s running from a boat, sea spray up in his face,
To a French beach on D-Day.

He’d do anything to look upon his little brick house
The aroma of Sunday roast drifting through the window.
But the air is filled with the tainted smell of cordite
Gunfire blasts across the bay.

He’d do anything to walk up the diamond-tiled path
And open the door with his patterned, brass key.
But he’s cowering by rocks; bullets whip past his head,
His comrades falling away.

He’d do anything to embrace his wife and two sons
Who love him so dearly and need him so much.
But lying in the sand, with a hole in his heart,
His memories will not fade.

By Daniel Bainbridge, aged 11, from Bancroft’s School, Essex


Home. To others, nothing but a whisper.
Lost on the wind.
Like tumbleweed, rolling by on a windy day.
There and then gone.
But for those living there,
Their entire world lies beneath,
That slate roof and rafters.
A tenth planet,
A mountain range,
A grotesque monster’s cavern,
A deserted island,
A rainforest.
Or a place of both everything and nothing.
Joy, hate, north, south, east or west
Everything to you and to them.

By William Johnson, aged 10, from Lochinver House School, Hertfordshire


Dug out of a bramble bank
All cosy and warm inside.
In my hall I find bugs
that have died.
Winding tunnels lead me safely
away from fox’s eager nose to
my burrow.
Lined with crunchy birch leaves
gathered as a welcome blanket
on which to rest my tired body.
I smell my sister next to me
In the still and comforting darkness.
Her heart beating next to mine
The reassuring thump of home.

By Sarah Mercer, aged 9, from Derwent Lodge, The Schools at Somerhill, Kent

International Learners - Winning Poems



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