On the Move Poems About Migration by Michael Rosen

On The Move Poems About Migration by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake

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On the Move. Poems About Migration – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: stories, escape, burdens, struggle & truth.
Children’s book title: On the Move Poems About Migration.
Children’s author: Michael Rosen.
Children’s illustrator: Quentin Blake.
Genre: Poetry.
Published by: Walker Books.
Recommended for children aged: 9-14.
First published: Hardback October 2020.
This children’s book is ideal for: Upper KS2 and KS3.


Our review:

Half way through reading Michael Rosen’s new collection, made up of poems taken from earlier books, I became aware of two clear images developing in my mind.

The first was that each poem was like a distinct, small voice, but forming at the same time a crucial part of a larger chorus.

The other was of each poem being like a simple, single-flowered plant emerging finally from a dense, many-layered soil.

With any artistic creation, the flower and the soil are of equal interest and importance. When the flowers are so apparently simple, slight and fragile, the soil which germinates and nourishes them, and through which they struggle into the daylight, will seize and absorb our attention.

On the Move Poems About Migration by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake

The soil here is rich with stories, suggestions, half-remembered distant relatives and half-understood absences. Dig deep enough and we find the horror. For those of us whose grandparents, great-uncles and aunts didn’t vanish, nor were taken off in a railway cattle-truck, nor were worked to death nor murdered on arrival in a camp, some areas of emotion must be forever out of reach. For Michael Rosen and all the people he brings before us in these poems, they are forever present.

At the end, and after all of Quentin Blake’s superb drawings of burdened families struggling and striding forwards under lowering violet skies, we are left to face the terrible truth: people are still so determined to escape something utterly dreadful that they put themselves and their children onto what is little more than a plastic li-lo and try to row across the Channel to get here.

You can’t do something yesterday.
You can’t do something tomorrow.
You can only do something now.

I normally pass on review copies to younger members of the family. I’m holding on to this one.

Two personal asides: I wish Michael Rosen a speedy recovery and thank him again for his generous comments after the last time we did a reading together.

If you like On the Move you might also like  Migrants by Issa Watanabe, The Missing by Michael Rosen, The Arrival by Shuan Tan and our list of children’s books about war and remembrance.


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