For a book with not many words this book certainly gives the reader plenty to think about.
Just an initial flick through the pages may give the impression of a superficial story, yet when you sit and read it you appreciate the complexities the author struggled with when asked to write a poem for the Queen, to perform in front of her at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day. Poet Laureate Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh was given the theme of unity and wanted to both be true to the history of the Commonwealth and the impacts of colonisation, whilst composing and performing her poem for the Queen.
Inevitably there are multiple sophisticated concepts here and words such as ‘alliances’, ‘allegiances’, ‘sellout’ which the author very kindly defines and gives context to at the bottom of the appropriate page. I wouldn’t say this is a particularly easy read and suggest that some students may want to read through it at least a couple of times in order to ensure they have grasped the entire story.
The cartoon-style black and white drawings throughout are striking and appealing. The addition of a small amount of regal purple adds interest and highlights parts of the text and illustrations.
The final words “’Cos where you stand matters!” are the basis of the entire narrative and are all the more poignant for being in purple and in a speech bubble coming from the author’s mouth.
As a bonus, Unity, the poem that Selina wrote for the Queen appears on the front endpaper and I chose to save reading that until after I had read the book.
Title: Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem
Author & Illustrator: SelinaTusitala Marsh
Publisher: Auckland University Press
Date of Publication: November 2020
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? No
Reviewer: Nadine Molloy, Library Assistant, Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? One day, I received a letter from the Queen of England.