A thousand summer’s evenings
Woodsmoke and pine
Now all blurred
By the passage of time
At the end of the garden
Fairies danced in the light
And we bounced like bubbles
As noon became night
We laughed, flying higher
Forgetting our cares
For a moment suspended
In summersweet air
Then when we grew tired
We stared at the stars
As we lay on our backs
In the moon-shadowed dark
The trampoline’s gone now
The garden feels bare
But the memories of childhood
Still sing on the air.
I think I’ve got a crush
Only a small one
Like a talking turtle
More blush-coloured fruit smoothie
Than Sex on the Beach
More like a leaf crunching underfoot in autumn
Than tumbling down a hill
Head-over-heels in summer
But still it’s there
And when I see you
Unravelling the yarn of your smile
I can feel my heart beating
Like the wings of a butterfly
So maybe I lied
I think about you all the time and
If you let me let you go
I’d be crushed.
Waterstones, you disappoint me.
You and I felt easy like a Sunday
Love song. Yet still unpredictable
I remember when it rained how
You turned your face to the sky
Glowing like a firefly
In the velvet night
While I laughed until I felt warm inside
Then we sat in a café
Making each cup of coffee last
As long as one of your smiles
Afterwards when you walked me home
Your eyes shone in the streetlights
And I was like a moth to a flame
Or Icarus swooping too close to the sky
Burning with desire.
I loved the sound, the feel, the taste of your name –
But water puts out the most ardent of fires
And I was alone
The next time the rain came.
This poem was inspired by my visit to the city of Harbin in China.
Door’s locked so we climb out through the window
The night breathes in our faces, reeking of traffic fumes
The sky is light though it’s long past midnight
We are deafened by car horns and dubstep and voices
A thousand nameless voices, belonging to the city
Tramps play checkers on a street corner
A woman sells lacy bloomers for a living
The rich loiter in their upper-storey apartments
All swallowed up by the pulsing lights
And the traffic, the buzz, the intoxication
Of dangling over the balcony with the wind in our hair
From the air-con sputtering behind us
And it’s a beautiful, ugly concrete jungle
And it makes us feel alive.
1. ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ by Trenton Lee Stewart
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a group of children selected through a series of tests to infiltrate a mysterious institution. It was clever and full of puzzles, mysteries and surprises.
2. ‘Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism’ by Georgia Byng
I loved all the books in the Molly Moon series. The concept was simple, clever and original: an ordinary girl discovers a book of hypnotism which opens up a whole world of possibilities. Molly’s adventures captivated me; I feel like this book deserves more credit than it has been given.
3. ‘Permanent Rose’ by Hilary McKay
The Casson family who inhabit the world of ‘Permanent Rose’ are probably some of the most believable and loveable characters I’ve ever read about. This story of some of the problems the eccentric household faces was unputdownable.
4. ‘Journey to the River Sea’ by Eva Ibbotson
I was obsessed with this book for ages; I loved the unusual setting in Edwardian-era Brazil, the characters and the concept of a repressed boarding-school girl letting herself go and having an adventure.
5. ‘Fergus Crane’ by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell
This is a very sweet story about a boy who learns about his mysterious past and embarks on a great adventure by the means of an unusual organisation called the ‘Fateful Voyage Trading Co.’ It is full of quirky characters and the beautiful illustrations complement the text perfectly.
6. ‘Hurricane Gold’ by Charlie Higson
I enjoyed all the ‘Young Bond’ books but this was by far my favourite. There is action, romance, an exciting Mexican setting, truly evil villains and plenty of plot twists. The idea of captives being given a chance to escape their prison via a deadly rat run was ingenious.
7. ‘The 13 Treasures’ by Michelle Harrison
Tanya can see faeries and when she goes to stay at her grandmother’s rambling old house, she finds that she is not the only one…This is a captivating story full of intrigue and magic, with the air of a true classic. I loved the idea of a group of children working together to solve an old and dangerous mystery; it is something that inspires me even now.
I know autumn’s been done a thousand times before
But this year, it’s different.
Everything’s orange: the leaves, the pumpkins, your hair
We curl up in our burrow to hibernate
You gather me in your arms like a harvest
The days are short, but at least the nights are long.
At Guy Fawkes fireworks sparkle like your eyes
The bonfire inside me crackles and flames
The first hints of frost tingle like your touch on my skin.
I wish autumn could stay forever, but it can’t and now winter’s come
It will be dull and cold and miserable
Because you’re gone.
I look back down memory’s hazy golden alley
Lined with English roses
And still I see myself
Young, straw-haired, berry-lipped
Walking under the poplars
Collapsing in the dewy grass
Laying my head on your chest
Sipping pear cider
And trying to decide which I loved more:
You or the farm
With the pollen like a golden snowfall
The soft-feathered chickens
And the strawberries
Nestled like rubies among the damask leaves
Rosy with the flush of youth
Sweet to taste
Tingling on the tongue
even when infatuation faded
Snow fell instead of pollen
There was chicken pie for dinner
And the strawberries turned brown
Mushy as first love.
And even now
As summer turns to autumn
And afternoon turns to dusk
I can still taste that strawberry summer
On the tip of my tongue.