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Children’s Poetry

April 2010: Publication of new children's poetry collection 'A Humpback's Wail' illustrated by Paul Bommer.
January 2010: Republished Now You See Me, Now You ... has been selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the two top choices for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf, Spring Term 2010.

‘Chrissie Gittins’ wonderful collection of poems for children, which was CLPE Poetry Award shortlisted, has been republished. Now You See Me, Now You ... contains a great variety all unified by an aware and intelligent breadth of poetic skill.’ School Librarian, Winter 2009

February 2009: Chrissie contributed to a Cbeebies series - Poetry Pie.

11th August 2008: Performance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

6th August 2008: Guest reader at Moniack Mhor (Arvon Foundation) for Carol Ann Duffy’s children’s poetry course.

June 2008: Chrissie recorded poems for the Oxfam C.D. of Children's Poetry at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood.

28th May 2008: Sell-out solo performance at the Hay Festival.
I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle

February 2008: I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle was selected as one of four single poet collections for the 'Boys into Books 5-11' booklist. This is a £3 million backed initiative funded by the DCSF and administered by the School Library Association.

October 2007: Chrissie was one of 14 poets invited to give workshops to 200 schoolchildren at Buckingham Palace, 16th October. A performance by young talented poets and laureate Andrew Motion followed, then the children met Her Majesty at a reception in the Picture Gallery. More details ...

May 2007: I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle was shortlisted for the 2007 CLPE Poetry Award. The award is in its fourth year and is the only prize for a book of children's poems in this country. www.clpe.co.uk

October 2006: I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one of the two top choices for the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf, Autumn 2006.

3rd December 2006: I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle featured as The Sunday Poem in the Independent on Sunday.

4th November 2005: Performance with Adrian Mitchell at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

11th May 2003: Death in the Poetry Library was read by Roger McGough on BBCR4 in a Poetry Please edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Poetry Library. On June 9th 2007 this recording was repeated on BBCR4's Archive Hour to celebrate the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall.

8th November 2003: Performance at the Poets House, New York.

17th November 2002: Death in the Poetry Library featured as The Sunday Poem in the Independent on Sunday.

May 2003: Her first children’s poetry collection Now You See Me, Now You ... (Rabbit Hole, 2002) was shortlisted for the inaugural CLPE Poetry Award in 2003.

July 2002: The Powder Monkey won the category for poems for 9-12 year olds in the Belmont Poetry Prize, and Bradshaw Plots his Revenge was a runner up in the category for 5-8 year olds.

is illustrated by Kev Adamson kevadamson.com;

NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU ... (isbn 09543228809)
is illustrated by Gunnlaug Moen Hembery gunnlaug.co.uk.

Both books are available from bookshops, from amazon.co.uk and from Gardners wholesalers.

Recent anthologies where Chrissie’s poems appear:

Macmillan anthologies:
Dinos, Dodos and other Dead Things ed. Brian Moses, 2003
Don’t Panic: 100 Poems to Save Your Life ed. Fiona Waters, 2003
Read Me and Laugh, ed. Gaby Morgan, 2005
Masala, ed. Debjani Chatterjee, 2005
The Works 4, ed. Gaby Morgan and Pie Corbett, 2005
The Secret Lives of Teachers – 3 Books in 1, ed. Brian Moses, 2005
Best Friends, ed. Fiona Waters, 2006
The Works for Key Stage 1, ed. Pie Corbett, 2006
Christmas Poems, ed. Fiona Waters, 2006
The Works Poems for Assembly, ed. Pie Corbett, 2007
Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry, ed. Fiona Waters, 2007

Hodder Wayland anthologies:
Hubble Bubble, ed. Andrew Fusek Peters, 2003
Love, Hate, And My Best Mate, ed. Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters, 2004
The Poetry Store, ed. Paul Cookson, 2005

Dinosaur Poems, ed. Paul Cookson, 2006

I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle

Comments and reviews

I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle

‘Chrissie Gittins knows just what words can do: she makes them dance, sing, sit still for a moment and then leap across the page with joy!’ Ian McMillan

‘a lot of ripe good ones,’ John Hegley

‘An enchanting collection full of vivid imagery. Chrissie Gittins’ poems are full of fun creatures and characters, from Mr Fogg the very friendly Dentist to Igor Iguanodon (who loves to dine on orchids). You'll love the way she weaves words together to invite you into her real and unreal worlds!' Children’s Poetry Bookshelf, Poetry Book Society

This is a delightful collection of poetry from Chrissie Gittins. The title has been selected as the Poetry Book Society Choice for the Children's Poetry Bookshelf. A warm, witty and intelligent selection, this group of poems covers a whole range of writing which will appeal to young readers aged 7-13. The poems are most refreshing for their breadth, not just of subject matter, but also of emotional response. There is not a breath of pedantry in the whole book - yet there is humour, wit, joy, sorrow and enjoyable quirkiness. At £5.99 this is a bargain, particularly as this book is exactly how children's poetry should be. Irene Babsky, The School Librarian, Spring 2007.

There are not many solo collections of poetry for children being published lately, so it’s good to see something getting through, even if it does entail small or self-publication. Chrissie Gittins is not the only poet currently to take this course, which neatly sidesteps the problems of being taken up by a major house and undergoing the rigours of being edited to their strictures. The result is a book which bears and wears the individualities and eccentricities of the author. I note that in reviews of her previous collection words like quirky, surreal, idiomatic, and zany come into play. This book has plenty to fall into line with those attributes, but there are also tenderer and more lyrical aspects and moments. There’s a confidence and assurance about her writing that clearly appeals to an audience that is already receiving her with enthusiasm. A reading shows she knows what she’s doing and is creating an idiom of her own. If you’re interested in poetry written for children, you should definitely read this book and see how it takes you and the children you’re in contact with. There’s a distinctive voice evolving here and I’ll watch with interest to see what it produces in the future. The book itself is nicely produced with good layout and typeface and very apt illustrations by Kev Adamson whose work for me, while carrying traces of Satoshi Kitamura, nevertheless has a strong individuality of its own. Books for Keeps, no 163, March 2007

I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle Information sheet in pdf format

A weekly podcast from the Walking Oliver children's music website www.walkingoliver.com which is run by Paul Austin Kelly - an American opera singer based in Lewes. In this programme - Episode 7, 21st March 2007 - Paul reads several of Chrissie's children's poems.

Now You See Me, Now You ...
Now You See Me, Now You …

‘weird, interesting and humorous poems that will bear repeated visits,’ Roger Stevens, Poetry Zone website.

‘Chrissie Gittins has a McGough-like flair for idiomatic surrealism,’ Michael Thorn, TES.

‘I like the warmth and immediacy of the poems. But I think The Shortest Days is my favourite – limpid and deceptively simple.’ Helen Dunmore

‘clearly focused in terms of target readers (mainly pre-teens) and its bias towards humour, occasionally of a quirky and surrealistic kind as in ‘The Fate of the Butternut Squash’. The line drawings are zany too. Sometimes a more serious note is introduced as in the case of the Belmont Poetry prize-winning ‘The Powder Monkey’, which tells of the days when children as young as six went to sea and served on warships, but usually humour prevails. It has a nice pocket-size feel to it,’ Brian D’Arcy, Writing in Education.

‘a most enjoyable collection … she has a nice quirky viewpoint and is well worth investigating,’ Enid Stephenson, Carousel.

‘Chrissie Gittins takes incidents and objects from her locality (Swimming at the local baths; a heart scarab in a museum) and makes imaginative leaps, excavating the thoughts of a tortoise who has travelled from Turkey to Catford. Especially enjoyable are her excursions into wordplay such as ‘Driven to Distraction’, and ‘Approaching Apostrophes’ is an excellent way to get to grips with this troublesome punctuation mark.’ Ann Lazim for the CLPE Award 2003.

Now You See Me, Now You ... ‘A witty and interesting collection from children's poet, Chrissie Gittins, which features, among others, poems about a six-foot man in a block of ice, a pair of flying shoes, a travelling wardrobe and a squashed poet. The author also explores the use of language itself in poems such as 'Exclamation Mark Park' and 'Approaching Apostrophes'. Chrissie Gittins writes in a refreshingly non-patronising way for children and this collection is charmingly illustrated throughout. These poems will have particular appeal for children in KS1 & 2, but parents will certainly enjoy reading this collection to younger children too.’ Victoria Buckley-Jennings, Man in the Moon website.

This books is available from bookshops, from amazon.co.uk and from Gardners wholesalers.

Now You See Me, Now You ... information sheet in pdf format

Poems from 'I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle'

I Don’t Want an Avocado for an Uncle

I don’t want an icicle for an auntie,
she might snap.

I don’t want a tomato for an older brother,
he might go red in the face.

I don’t want a candle for a gran,
she might melt.

I don’t want a coffee bean for a cousin,
he might get swallowed from a cup.

I don’t want a blister for a sister,
she might get sore.

I don’t want an avocado for an uncle,
he might go squishy.

I don’t want a carpet for a granddad,
he might be threadbare.

I don’t want a plum for a mum,
she might get made into chutney.

I don’t want a diamond for a dad
because he’d be the hardest man in the world.
I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle

Limerick 6

There was a young girl from Havant,
who walked with a bit of a slant,
“You have got a lean,”
said her friend Billy-Jean,
so she applied for an angle transplant.

I Don't Want an Avocado for an Uncle

Poems from 'Now You See Me, Now You ...'

for Alice Catherine HIGH-CHAIR

Arms up
Bib on
Eat up
Get down

Arms up
Bib on
Throw food
Mum down

Arms out
No bib
Get down
Throw up

Dad tries
No go
Head down
Give up


Don’t squash peas on your knees, Government Health Warning
Don’t grate carrot on a parrot,
Don’t tangle pears in your nostril hairs
Never risk a quid on a squid.

Don’t pour bottled beer in your ear.
Never slice apple pies on your thighs.
Never wash your pullovers with yesterday’s leftovers.
Don’t entice a bowl of egg fried rice.

Don’t assume that tarragon’s a paragon,
Or try to run faster than a bag of spinach pasta,
Don’t try a lunge at Victoria sponge,
A cake with a steak is a mistake.

Bravado never works with avocado,
A flickin’s not the thing to give to chicken,
Don’t go and stutter on the b-b-b-b-butter
Never feed mice on ice.

Careful not to ravage a coy savoy cabbage,
Never have a tussle with a mussel,
Don’t ever hurry with a spicy prawn curry,
Don’t boast about your buttered toast.

Don’t pour jelly in your welly,
Don’t dribble tagliatelle on your older brother’s belly.
Never do the tango with a ripe and juicy mango,
If you do then you’re sure to pay the price!

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  © Chrissie Gittins 2007