Michael Rosen’s "timely" poetry collection about migration, illustrated by Quentin Blake, is the winner of this year’s CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA).
On the Move, published by Walker, is an exploration of Rosen’s past and includes poems about his relatives who lost their lives in the Holocaust. The final section of the book, entitled "On the Move Again", connects his experiences with migration around the world to explain that people are always on the move.
Rosen, who was announced as the winner at a live poetry show, hosted by the Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, said receiving the CLiPPA is the most important thing that can happen to anyone who writes poetry for children, as well as being “a fantastic honour… a huge treat”.
The former children’s laureate performed at the festival, along with the other shortlistees Nikita Gill, Matt Goodfellow, Manjeet Mann and Jane Newberry, and said that only months ago he couldn’t imagine performing live in front of an audience of hundreds ever again.
Rosen spent seven weeks in intensive care last year after contracting Covid-19.
“When I was in rehab I remember saying to the physio, ‘I don’t think I will be able to stand in front of 500 children and do poems’. She said ‘don’t be so sure’,” he told The Bookseller. “Nine months ago I still would have thought that, but a few weeks ago I did two shows by myself and I was amazed.”
Allie Esiri, who was chair of the judges, said they were unanimous in picking On the Move as the winner of this year’s prize.
“The very best poems are rockets which can propel us to worlds —real and imagined —that are different from our own, and maps which can guide us to better understand the emotional, social, or political terrain around us.” The book is a “timely and timeless” reminder of our kinship with people of all backgrounds, she said.
Louise Johns-Shepherd, chief executive at CLPE, said this year’s shortlist was “outstanding”, adding: “Here are five books that in their different ways show children just what poetry can do, bringing both joy and understanding… Michael has done so much to inspire children with a love of words and poetry and On the Move is a collection that will be read and shared for many, many years to come.”
Rosen, who previously won the CLiPPA in 2016 with A Great Big Cuddle (Walker), won a prize of £1,000