A Passing On Of Shells by Simon Lamb

A Passing On Of Shells by Simon Lamb – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Poetry, whimsical, touching, lyrical, funny.
Children’s book title: A Passing On Of Shells.
Children’s author: Simon Lamb.
Children’s illustrator: Chris Riddell.
Genre: Contemporary children’s poetry collection.
Published by: Scallywag Press.
ISBN: 9781915252128.
Recommended for children aged: 7+.
First published: Hardback February 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: Poetry lovers of all ages.

A Passing On Of Shells by Simon Lamb

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Our review:

A Passing On Of Shells is the debut poetry collection by Scottish writer and performer Simon Lamb. The book contains 50 poems, each with exactly 50 words. The author explains how he is ‘fascinated by the sheer possibility of poetry, where a whole universe can be offered to the reader in a precisely-chosen packet of words (in this case, exactly fifty!).’

Far from being restrictive, this technique instead provides Lamb with a great variety of poetic freedom, with topics ranging from chickens crossing the road to grief over a lost hero father, and from hopes for the New Year to debates over who gets the last cracker.

Life on the Rock

There’s hope within a hermit crab
patiently waiting in the vacancy chain
for its new home, a passing on of shells.
It pays for each crab to care for each shell
that they carry, knowing they’ll inherit other
shells from other crabs, just like them: sharing
life on the rock.

There’s free verse, haikus, shape poems, rhyming couplets and (almost) acrostics. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by the former Children’s Laureate and triple Kate Greenaway Medal winner Chris Riddell in his trademark fantastical style of intricate line drawings. There are ghosts, witches and wizards, Death and – naturally – chickens.

A Passing On of Shells: 50 Fifty-Word Poems by Simon Lamb - spread 2

Although each poem is its own little world, a theme of storytelling and the power of the imagination links several of the poems. Each poem’s short length makes this collection accessible for all ages and they would work particularly well when spoken aloud.

A Passing On of Shells: 50 Fifty-Word Poems by Simon Lamb - spread 1

A Passing On Of Shells is a beautiful, accessible poetry collection that will appeal to fans of Michael Rosen and Joseph Coelho.

Many thanks to Scallywag Press for the review copy.

If you like A Passing On Of Shells by Simon Lamb you might also like: our reviews of My Sneezes Are Perfect by Rakhshan Rizwan and Yusuf Samee, Daydreams and Jellybeans by Alex Wharton and Katy Riddell, On the Move Poems About Migration by Michael Rosen, Poems the wind blew in by Karmelo C. Iribarren and The Head That Wears A Crown edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Dai’an Wright.

Browse our list of books for KS2

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon