lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

F is for Children’s Poets John Foster and Vivian French, #AtoZChallenge #ZtoA

Vivian French


Vivian French

Vivian was first published in 1990, after careers in the theatre, counselling and storytelling. Despite publishing around 300 titles, Viv leads a very busy life away from her keyboard conducting writing workshops for both children and adults, teaching at the University of the West of England and the Edinburgh College of Art, and mentoring new writers and illustrators. She has responded with enthusiasm to invitations from schools and libraries throughout the UK, and has toured from Orkney to Oklahoma, and particularly enjoyed running writing workshops in Ibiza and Majorca. She is constantly in demand to contribute to collections and anthologies, and one of her poems was included recently in the anthology Wonderland: Alice in Poetry, edited by Michaela Morgan (Macmillan).


This wonderful poem by Vivian is the one in the above anthology:


The Crocodile and the Undertaker


‘A question,’ said the crocodile

While walking down a hill

‘I’ve drunk a vat of gasoline

Will I be very ill?’

The undertaker rubbed his hands

‘I trust you’ve made your will?’


The crocodile looked at him

And shed a silver tear

‘I sometimes think, my oldest friend,

You wish I wasn’t here.’

“No, no,’ the undertaker said.

‘I hold you very dear.’


He smiled an undertakers smile

His thoughts were cold as ie

‘A crocodile bag and shoes

Would bring a pretty price…’

But all he said was, ‘Let me buy

You dinner somewhere nice.’


‘Once there,’ the undertaker thought

‘I’ll have no more delays.

I’ll light the match. the gasoline

Will make a merry blaze

And so my crocodilly friend

Will end his scaly days.’


They found a little baker’s shop

And ordered apple pie

The undertaker lit a match —

It fizzled with a sigh

The crocodile looked at him

And winked his yellow eye


‘I think perhaps it’s time to dine

Pray, pass the pepper shaker

Today’s the day, my oldest friend

You go to meet your maker!’

He opened wide his toothy jaws

And ate the undertaker.


© Vivian French

John Foster


John Foster

John Foster is an educational writer and children’s poet. As well as authoring twelve books of his own poetry including The Poetry Chest (OUP) and The Land of the Flibbertigibbets (Salt), he is the UK’s most prolific anthologist of children’s poetry, having compiled over 150 anthologies. His best selling books include Twinkle, Twinkle Chocolate Bar (OUP) and the poetry collections illustrated by Korky Paul, such as A Rocketful of Space Poems (OUP). He is a frequent visitor to schools, libraries and festivals as a poetry performer. His forthcoming books include Eggs with Legsillustrated by Korky Paul (Troika) and Don’t Stand Under a Flying Cow (King’s England Press). His website is here.


I bet you couldn’t beat this brilliant poem by John Foster – but there’s no harm in trying!


Beat That


Our dog ran the London Marathon

in under one hour.

He raised over a million pounds

For the Dogs Benevolent Society.

Beat that! I said.


Our cat went on Master Chef.

He cooked a dish of minced mice

With sparrow’s beak sauce,

He won first prize and is now head chef at The Ritz.

Beat that! He said.


Our hamster swam the Channel,

Climbed the Eiffel Tower

And rowed across the Atlantic within 24 hours.

He was knighted by the Queen

And became Prime Minister.

Beat that! I said.


Our rabbit helped Superman

beat off an attack of mutant aliens.

He became King of the World,

and lived until he was 900 years old.

Beat that! He said.


Our giraffe fought King Kong,

Became Master of the Universe

And ruled for a million years.

Beat that! I said.


A giraffe couldn’t do that, he said.

This one did, I said.


© John Foster

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