June 18th, 2020

Bookshow at Home with Valerie Bloom

Welcome to week 7 of The Children's Bookshow at Home, which will inspire you with the joy of poetry. Valerie Bloom wrote the collection of poems in Hot Like Fire, many of which are influenced by her childhood in Jamaica. Find out more about Valerie and listen to several poems before diving in to the activities. You can sign up to our newsletter here, or follow us on twitter @ChildrensBkShow. Our activities should appeal to all kinds of readers, writers and artists, so everyone can get involved.


Book of the Week: Hot Like Fire

From pirates to ghosts to the perils of what packed lunch to take on a school trip, Valerie Bloom's poems in Hot Like Fire are bursting with energy, both on the page and when read out loud. Watch the videos below to see Valerie performing two of her poems, and to find out how she got the idea for the fantastic 'Sandwich'.


Author in focus

Valerie grew up in Clarendon, Jamaica. Caribbean life and culture have shaped or influenced a great deal of her writing and she was enchanted with literature from a very early age.

Valerie moved to England in 1979. Here she began writing and performing regularly, having tried her hand as a librarian, arts officer and even steel band instructor!

Valerie's other books include Jaws and Claws and Things With Wings and Whoop an’ Shout.


Videos and Activities

Watch Valerie perform 'Sandwich'

Write a Poem about a Memorable Moment

'Sandwich' is a narrative poem which tells the story of Neil’s desperate efforts to take a sandwich on his school trip, as instructed by his teacher. He becomes increasingly anxious when Granny Lenore insists on preparing a feast of food for his packed lunch, instead of a simple sandwich. He fears embarrassment when his friends see what he has brought, but he actually ends up feeling immensely proud.

Can you recall a moment in your life when you felt either proud or embarrassed? Have a go at writing your memory as a poem. You could use rhyme, rhythm or repetition; or write a simple acrostic poem or free verse. You can get some tips from Valerie in the video below on the process of a writing a poem, and find out more about different forms of poetry on BBC Bitesize.

I remember vividly, when in Year 6,
We performed a play and I was picked
To play an acrobat and wow the crowd
With my twists and tumbles, they’d clap out loud!

My partner and I opened the show.
Down the aisle to the stage we had to go
With our heads to the floor and our feet to the sky,
We walked tall on our hands, with toes pointed high.

Sadly for me, my moment of pride
Came tumbling down as an old man cried,
‘Oomph’ in pain when I fell in his lap!
The audience gasped, but they did not clap..

Valerie discusses how to work on poems: great advice for writers of all ages!

Draw the Perfect Picnic

What is your idea of a perfect picnic? Would you be happy with a simple sandwich, or would you enjoy something far more elaborate? Draw or prepare a basketful of your favourite food. Where would you take it? Who would you share it with?


Watch Valerie perform 'Seasons'

Draw or Write about the Seasons

In this poem, Valerie uses personification – a form of figurative language which gives human qualities to non-human entities. Each season symbolises the passing of time in a person’s life, with each season representing a distinct chapter, from birth to death.

Spring is a baby
Summer is a barefoot boy
Autumn’s a grown man
Winter is an aged sage

What does each season mean to you? How could you personify the seasons? Start by brainstorming pictures, words and phrases relating to each season. How does each time of year make you feel? What images form in your mind when you think about each season?

Record your interpretation of the seasons through words and/or pictures. You could focus on your favourite season, or represent all four. Get creative and use different media and word art to present your ideas.


Perform a Poem

Have a go at performing your own poem. Pick a favourite and try to learn it off by heart. Watch the video below for Valerie’s tips for performing poetry to help you prepare.

We would love to see a video of your performance, along with any other work you create! To send us your work to display in our gallery use the link below, or upload to twitter with the hashtag #BookshowAtHome.

Email us your work for our gallery

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