Sounds interesting …

The day after the momentous Brexit result in our EU referendum, we had the pleasure of welcoming a very special migrant to our garden here on the outskirts of York. Take a listen to this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the first time I’ve ever, in the 20 years we’ve lived here, heard this bird singing in our garden. And it provided very welcome balm for the soul.

In case you’re wondering, what you’ve just listened to is a male Blackcap.

As anyone who has been to one of my Flying High! shows will know, I am a big fan of birdsong. And I’m very keen, through my Flying High! shows (often performed with storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer) and my forthcoming Flying High! book, to tune other people in to the joys (and occasional annoyances!) of the birdsong around them.

However, birdsong isn’t the only fabulous sound you might hear in your garden. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all sorts of other interesting sounds.

For example, ten days after I heard the Blackcap singing, I was just about to go to bed when I heard a familiar sound through the bathroom window. We hear it every year at about this time. Have a listen. Do you know what it is?

The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. The answer is: two hedgehogs getting to know each other. They snuffle around each other like this for ages and ages. We feel very lucky that year after year, hedgehogs come to our garden for this special event in their lives.

Courting hedgehogs in our garden, 4 July 2016

Courting hedgehogs in our garden in Heslington, 4 July 2016

And here’s another intriguing sound. I heard it in the garden over the course of a few days last week. It was coming from our wooden trellis. Any idea what it is? (N.B. You need to listen very carefully!)

For the answer to this one, I’ll point you in the direction of my award-winning Buzzing! book. All is revealed on pages 20 and 21!

Meanwhile, may your life be enriched by tuning in to the sounds of nature all around you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the effect of leaving the EU may be on our wildlife here in Britain, have a read of this interesting document, The EU and Our Environment, drawn up in advance of the referendum by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life



Best in class?

Stop press: Send your votes by 8pm on Sunday 1st November to (My book Buzzing! is in the Poetry category.)

Calling all primary teachers, teaching assistants and school librarians! What books do you find work best in class? I ask because the shortlist for the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award has just been announced, and the organisers would like you to vote for which of these books you think will work best in your classrooms.

Screen shot of Website of the North Somerset Teachers Book Award

The North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award is a new award. As you can see from the screenshot above, it aims to:

‘champion a selection of the best children’s literature on offer for use in the primary classroom.

As professionals who work with children every day, we are passionate about raising the profile of quality children’s literature which will engage and inspire children to develop a life-long love of reading.’

Hear hear! And given all that, I’m mighty proud that they have shortlisted my book Buzzing! – Discover the poetry in garden minibeasts in the Poetry category. The other two poetry contenders are My Rhino Plays the Xylophone by Graham Denton and What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

As I mentioned when I was longlisted in August, the award review of Buzzing! highlights many of the features of the book that I had hoped would appeal to readers in general and teachers in particular. I wanted to create a book in which science met poetry, a book that would present a cross-curricular approach to minibeasts, a book that would enhance and support teachers in their practice. And a book that would make you giggle! (Learning through laughter, rhythm and rhyme being what I’m all about.)

Have I succeeded in this? Well, judge for yourselves! You can download a free sample from Buzzing! and a free Buzzing! teacher resource from my website. (Where you can also order copies of the book, if you are so minded.)

Meanwhile, here are some quotes from the award review of Buzzing!:

‘Never have minibeasts been more appealing than in this book!’

‘As you read [the poems], you find yourself getting into the rhythm of the lines and wanting to read aloud.’

‘Another strength of this book is the fact that it encourages the reader to find out more’

‘A great resource for livening up lessons on life processes and living things!’

‘Fun to use as a cross curricular resource or for performance poetry!’

You can find out more about how Buzzing! came into being in this perspicacious interview, carried out for the award by 12-year-old Tayler.

I think this award is a very valuable initiative – and not just because my book has been nominated! I believe it has great value for teachers, libarians and support staff in primary schools across the country. The award organisers have put a lot of time, expertise and passion into selecting books in five categories (Picture Books, Poetry, Quality Fiction, Read Aloud and Information) that they genuinely believe will support and enhance classroom practice. So do join in, peruse the books on the shortlist – and vote!

A note from the award organisers:

‘Voting is only open to teachers, school librarians, support staff etc. as we really want the winners to be chosen for what teachers think will work in class!’

Email your votes to

(Oh, and if you’d like a Buzzing! visit to your school at some point, just email me.)

Anneliese Emmans – Bringing poetry to life


Topic: Minibeasts!

All the pupils at Hague Bar Primary School in Derbyshire are studying minibeasts this term, and their classrooms, hall and corridors are teeming with fabulous minibeast artwork. How do I know? Because I was there on Friday, to add some minibeast poetry to the mix!

I started the day by performing my interactive, cross-curricular, minibeast poetry show Buzzing! for the whole school. (During which much giggling was had by all …) I then spent the rest of the day working with each of their four classes in turn – indoors and out. At the end of the day the children all came together in a sharing assembly and performed some of the fantastic minibeast poems they’d created.

How did the day go? Well, the Year 5/6 teacher Jacinta Robinson thanked me for:

‘your brilliant assembly and workshops.
The staff and children loved it!
We would all highly recommend you to other schools.’

And Year 3/4 teacher Leah Jackson said my minibeast poetry workshop with her class was:

‘fantastic. All the children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Every child produced something to be proud of.’

I was proud of the minibeast poems the children created too. As were their parents, some of whom had come along for the sharing assembly.

I think the school has something else to be proud of as well: the views it commands over the Derbyshire countryside. How’s about this for a view out of a classroom window?

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

The stunning view from a Hague Bar classroom

I could go on at length about how enthusiastic and welcoming the children were, how inventive their poems were, how helpful all the staff were, etc. etc. etc. – but I have an important job to get on with. At the end of my visit the children bought more copies of my Buzzing! book than I had with me – so I need to go and sign and dedicate a lot more copies now and get them in the post!

If you’re studying minibeasts in your primary school and would like me to come and put on some cross-curricular minibeast poetry activities for your pupils, then do email me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Anneliese Emmans – Bringing poetry to life

World Book Day 2015

World Book Day 2015: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times, because I spent the day edu-taining the pupils at Byron House, St John’s College School in Cambridge with Buzzing! shows, poetry workshops and Rhyme Time Rambles:

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John's College School

A World Book Day Rhyme Time Ramble at St John’s College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John's College School

More Rhyme Time Rambling at St John’s College School

And I got to meet lots of lovely pupils as I signed copies of my brand new paperback Buzzing! book:

15 - 03 - Buzzing at Byron House 1

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John's School in Cambridge

Signing copies of my brand new Buzzing! paperback at St John’s College School in Cambridge

It was the worst of times because I had to judge the school’s Buzzing! bookmark competition. This was an impossible task, as the children had come up with such a wide variety of fabulous bookmarks. See for yourself here:

Just some of the entries to the St John's School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Just some of the many entries to the St John’s School Buzzing! bookmark competition

Buzzing bookmark comp - 2

Eventually I did manage to select some winners, but I would like all the pupils to know how wonderful their bookmarks were, and what a joy it was to look at them all.

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

More beautiful Buzzing! bookmark entries

Thank you to all the staff and pupils at St John’s College School who made my World Book Day visit such a pleasure. Special thanks go to Julia Clarke, the school librarian, who did so much to enthuse the children about my visit in advance and to make it the success it was. I particularly enjoyed working with her to prepare my library poetry workshop.

What did the school make of my visit? Well, one member of staff said it was:
the best author visit we’ve had‘.
I can’t ask for better staff feedback than that!

More brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

Yet more brilliant Buzzing! bookmarks

But did the children enjoy my visit? Well, here are some of their views:

‘I loved the way Anneliese performed her poems  – they were great!’

‘I liked Anneliese because she said that if you want to remember something you should write a poem about it. I think that’s really clever.”

‘I loved Anneliese’s visit as she was so inspiring.’

‘I loved Anneliese’s story telling in her Buzzing! show and I liked learning more about minibeasts.’

‘I loved the way Anneliese acted and the way her voice matched the insect and the way she remembered all those poems that she’d written.’

So, there you have it. If you’d like your school to have a buzzing visit, then do get in contact.

Anneliese Emmans – Bringing poetry to life


Buzzing! goes paperback

In the beginning there was the hardback version of my book Buzzing! It was nominated for the Carnegie Medalshortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s book prize and selected as a National Insect Week recommended children’s book and teachers’ resource.

That edition sold out.

Then came the hardback reprint. Just in time for the Hay Festival.

And now, just in time for World Book Day, comes the paperback edition of Buzzing!

Cover of my book Buzzing!

Cover of my paperback book Buzzing!

Just as colourful. Just as funny. Just as educational. But lighter – in your hand, and on your wallet. (Just £9.99 instead of the hardback £14.99.)

To celebrate the paperback launch, for the next two weeks (till 15 March 2015) I’m donating 50p for each book ordered on my website to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (registered charity 1115634 & SCO42830), who wrote the Foreword to the book. (And who do sterling work for bumblebees and, therefore, for us all!)

Order your signed paperback copy of Buzzing! – with free UK p&p – here!

And if you’d like me to dedicate your copy to someone, just let me know their name when you place your order.

Anneliese Emmans – Bringing poetry to life


National Poetry Day 2014

I had the great good fortune to spend this year’s National Poetry Day in glorious rural North Yorkshire, where the sun shone brightly and the flags were hoisted in celebration!

Flags hoisted for National Poetry Day 2014 in rural North Yorkshire

Flag hoisted to celebrate National Poetry Day 2014 in rural North Yorkshire

(Well, I like to think that’s why they were hoisted!)

I was the guest of the Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club, for whom I performed my Buzzing! poetry show in which I introduced a range of garden heroes and garden villains in ‘edu-taining’ rhythm and rhyme. After which came a delicious lunch!

I met some very interesting ladies in the course of my visit – and was lucky enough to be given lifts to and from the nearest station by two of them. (Thank you Margaret and Barbara!)

Enjoying National Poetry Day in North Yorkshire

Enjoying National Poetry Day in North Yorkshire

So, what did the ladies think of their National Poetry Day entertainment? Well, here’s some feedback from their Speaker Finder:

‘Your poems are very clever and your photos are beautiful. You kept everyone interested in your talk with your enthusiastic, lively approach. It it is an inspired way of getting a message over to people of all ages. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed your visit and I am sure went away a little wiser.’

Well that’s good to hear!

If you’d like some poetry entertainment for your event, you don’t have to wait until next year’s National Poetry Day. Any day can be Poetry Day! Just contact me to find out more.

Meanwhile, thank you to Hutton Rudby Ladies Luncheon Club for inviting me to share National Poetry Day with them, and for making me so welcome. (And for arranging such glorious weather!)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – – Bringing poetry to life

Buzzing! for grown-ups

For a Buzzing! review with a difference, may I point you in the direction of Mark Avery’s blog?  There you’ll find an assessment not only of the content of my book, but also of my drinking habits and even the quality of my handwriting!

The bit about my book is interesting as it gives you a grown-up’s perspective on Buzzing! Which, in Mark’s case, is that:

‘The poems are very catchy and often contain a lot of information – learning the poems is an easy way to learn the information … This seems like one of those rare successful mixtures of science and art … I really like the book.’

Phew! And I, as it happens, really like the book Mark Avery has written called Fighting for Birds. I shall tell you more about his book on another occasion, but for now you can find out more about it here and more about Mark (whom you may recall I met at the Hay Festival recently, when we were both recording programmes for BBC Radio 4) here.

If you too are a grown-up and would like to experience a live grown-up version of Buzzing!, then come along to the ‘green heart of York’ that is St Nicks this coming Tuesday 15 July, where I’ll be performing a promenade version of Buzzing!

The nature reserve at St Nicks is a fabulous place to wander through on a summer’s evening (weather permitting), so who knows what flora and fauna we’ll find there. Indeed, some of its fauna found their way into my Buzzing! book, and I’ll be showing you exactly where I found them and took the photos.

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that features in my Buzzing! book and that I found and photographed at St Nicks, York

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that I photographed at St Nicks, York, and that features in my Buzzing! book

The evening starts at 6.30pm with formal St Nicks matters. You can arrive in time for that or come a little later, at around 7pm, when the promenade will begin.

Either way, the evening’s events are free, and will be followed by a (discounted!) Buzzing! book signing session at the end of the promenade, with 20% of the price going to St Nicks.

St Nicks is just off Melrosegate in York. You can find directions here.

I’ve performed lots of Buzzing! shows for grown-ups before, but I’ve never done a promenade version, so this will be a world first! I do hope you can come and join us.

(P.S. Older children are welcome along too!)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – – Bringing poetry to life