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West Midlands Children’s Poetry book beats adult books to scoop Poetry Category of Rubery Book Awards 2016

Press Release 8 July 2016 – from Fair Acre Press. For further information contact Nadia at [email protected]

I once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat
–  Poetry by Wolverhampton’s Emma Purshouse
–  Pictures by Solihull’s Catherine Pascall Moore
–  Published by Oswestry -based Fair Acre Press, and edited by the Shropshire Press’ Nadia Kingsley

has won the Poetry Category of an International Book Awards  The Rubery Book Awards 2016 

I once knew a poem COVER for website 1


A West Midlands children’s poetry book has beaten off all the adult poetry opposition to scoop up this year’s Rubery Book Awards 2016 Poetry Category

The Judges this year are:
MAN Booker Shortlisted author, Clare Morrall, Poet and Stand winner Jeff Phelps, and author, dramatist and lecturer, William Gallagher.

What the Judges have to say about I once knew a Poem who Wore a Hat:

Lots of wonderful imaginative and outrageous poems in this collection which is full of the charms and idiosyncrasies of childhood. It’s easy to see how children could love these breezy poems and become attached to them. One could easily imagine them being learnt by heart and repeated in playgrounds. The illustrations by Catherine Pascall Moore are quirky and appropriate. The hints about, for example, the best way to learn a poem or how to speak a poem aloud, are unusual in a book of this sort and never patronising.

Here is a poem and its picture from the book: You can hear Emma reading this poem here

Chocolate Labrador 24-25


Chocolate Labrador

We were going to get a pet,
a chocolate Labrador.
Mum said it would be great
but me, I wasn’t sure.

She could see that I was worried.
I told her how I felt,
that I’d rather have a real dog
because a chocolate one might melt!





Nadia Kingsley, of Shropshire based Fair Acre Press says this:

I met Emma Purshouse over ten years ago when I was living in Wolverhampton and joined a writing group run by Wolverhampton Libraries in Bilston – called “Women who Write”. The group was run by Emma Purshouse and Jane Seabourne and they really encouraged me in my own writing. I always wanted to get to know Emma more, and to work with her, so I was delighted when at a reading in Wolves – she said yes to an idea I had had when I was watching a programme about the Hadron Collider. Two years later, together with an astrophysicist from the University of Birmingham (Prof Trevor Ponman), musician and sound artist Giancarlo Facchinetti, and a mobile planetarium dome we were performing e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g: The History of the Universe in 45 Minutes at festivals throughout the region.

After one of these performances I asked Emma if Fair Acre Press could publish her as I couldn’t quite believe she didn’t have a full collection out already, and to my great relief she said yes!

She has been writing and performing poems for children for many years. I had seen her at poetry slams and adult poetry performances, and always been amazed at just how brilliant her poetry and her performing really is. Working alongside her on the e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g project had confirmed how much I admire, and trust, both the person and her work. I left it to her to choose which of her many poems would go into the book; the order too. She always wanted the book to be dyslexia-friendly: We made sure we asked experts about how exactly to achieve this.

We both know several really good illustrators and we decided to offer a selection of people, who we knew we could work well with, the option of creating a book cover, and the character Figment (of the Imagination) who speaks directly to the reader and gives performance tips. And this is how Catherine Pascall Moore came to join the team!

We both loved her work immediately – and working with Cath was an absolute pleasure. I can’t tell you how much I laughed and loved the images as they trickled into my inbox over the next four months!

Both Emma and Cath, like me, are perfectionists – so the last few weeks became more like hard work as we made sure we were happy with every comma, word, and illustration – asking for help with the  punctuation from both teachers and poets.

My aim was to have the book in print in time for submitting to the Rubery Book Awards 2016.
There are very few awards that accept children’s poetry books so I felt it very important to enter the book in this prestigious award.
As it turned out the book was only just back from the printers in time – I submitted it on the last possible date! Not the way I like to work – but all’s well that ends THIS well !!

We were particularly delighted when both A.F. Harrold and Celia Warren endorsed the book:

Emma’s poems are full of life and laughs, bubbling with music and wisdom and silliness and jokes and cute animals.
She’s a great performer of her work and the book is crammed with tips to help the reader become a performer too.
And as if that weren’t enough, Catherine’s fine and funny pictures add another dimension to the book (a picture-y dimension)
A.F.Harrold – Bloomsbury Children’s Poet and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7

Prompts and suggestions for learning by heart are dotted among these fun poems from performance poet Emma Purhouse.
They remind us that poetry should be spoken aloud and encourage us to do so, enjoying the poet’s skillful word play.
A delightful collection for children and grown ups to enjoy together.
Celia Warren Children’s Poet published by Heinemann, plus KS2 Comprehension, and Teacher’s Guide author


The book will be reviewed by children’s book bloggers soon. Please subscribe to the Fair Acre Press weekly e-newsletter (bottom of this page) if you would like details of any future successes, blogs etc

Fair Acre Press has recently published a wildlife photography book WILDERLAND by Shropshire’s Andrew Fusek Peters, and a novel SITTING DUCKS by Shropshire’s Lisa Blower. These are attracting great reviews – so all in all I am extraordinarily happy with the talent here in the West Midlands, says Nadia Kingsley.

I would like to thank Writing West Midlands, the Arts Council England, and the Kickstarter supporters of I Once Knew a Poem who Wore a Hat. It is a tough time for any kind of publishing house, but particularly tricky for a small press, and I am extraordinarily also grateful for the support from our UK representation Signature Books UK, our distributor Central Books, and of course all our readers!! It is particularly lovely to hear how children are responding to the book, and the teachers who have seen it are so happy to have such a fun inspiring book to help them teach Performance Poetry – which is now a compulsory part of the school curriculum.


Future confirmed event: Emma Purshouse, Catherine Pascall Moore and Figment will be appearing at Waterstones Birmingham at 2pm on Saturday 24th September 2016

Highlights so far this year for I once Knew a Poem who Wore a Hat:

Emma and Cath at Wenlock Poetry Festival

Emma on stage with Carol Ann Duffy at Manchester Children’s Book Festival

Thirty copies of the book travel with a Marathon Runner who donates them to children in Uganda   Louis Munro in Uganda 1

Emma Purshopuse reads to Figment from their book %22I Once Knew a Poem who Wore a Hat%22


• Emma has run workshops and performed to & with children throughout the West Midlands. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing.

• shortlisted twice for the Belmont Children’s Poetry Prize • published in ‘Born to Giggle’ – a Save the Children Poetry anthology

• her very popular children’s poetry CD ‘Fair & Fowl’ CD has sold out.



• Cath was a teacher of Special Needs children

• designed for the card company Jotterbox before returning to do an MA in Visual Communications.

• This is her first book that she’s illustrated…


…But if I have my way it will not be her last, says Nadia Kingsley of Fair Acre Press.

The enormous blow-up version of Figment seen here with Emma Purshouse, in Wenlock Poetry Festival 2016’s Children’s Tent shows the level of detail that Cath puts into all of her pictures, as it is taken directly from the book!



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