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Home » Books » Poetry (Children’s/Teenage)


In the Land of the Giants,

George Szirtes

In the Land of the Giants, George Szirtes


Publication Date: 15-Sep-12 | ISBN: 9781844714513 | Trim Size: 178 x 110 mm | Extent: 96pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Grantham Book Services | Publishing Status: ActiveShop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




Winner of the CLPE Poetry Award

George Szirtes’ children’s poems comprise riddles, mysteries and parables, strange encounters, cautionary tales, and meditations on just about everything under the sun — from the sea’s hands to the wind’s face. All Szirtes’ technical virtuosity is on display, the music, rhyme and cadence fusing together with an Eastern European sensibility to provide a unique collection that will be treasured by all children and not a few adults.

This generous new selection displays wit and warm good humour with a hint of the absurd.

Also included are a series of translations of children’s poems from Hungary including works by Sándor Weöres and Zoltán Zelk.


PDF Click here to view a sample (524 KB)



Acknowledgements; Four Superstitions; 1. The Sneezing Week; 2. Watch who you are winking at; 3. Bad signs; 4. Runs till it drops; Three Fires and a Flood; Flame; The Great Fire of London; The Fire’s Heart; The Flood; The Bee’s Knees; The Bee’s Knees; The Wasp’s Waist; The Serpent’s Tail; The Fish’s Fingers; The Bicycle’s Wrists; The Clouds’ Hair; The Wind’s Face; The Sea’s Hands; The Sun’s Toes; The Cold’s Teeth; The Refrigerator’s Belly; The Wall’s Ears; The Bedroom Chest; The Clothes-hanger’s Collarbone; The Book’s Spine; The Window’s Eyes; The Butcher’s Calves; The Bottle’s Neck; The Cup’s Lip; The Ice Cream’s Tongue; The Cave’s Mouth; The Lake’s Bottom; Three Mysteries; 1. The Lost Sock Mystery; 2. The Mystery of the Ant; 3. The Rainbow Mystery; In the Land of the Giants; Rock A Bye; Beware Of The Bear!; In The Land Of Giants; At Gran’s; Fancy Dress; Henry; Brave; Pianist; Soulful; Flautist; Plumbing Service; Egg Magic; The Great Drongo; Poet; No, Love; Visitor; Miss String; Miss String; Ahem; Old Couples; Whoopsa; Moonlife; Moon Questions; Space Comes Out at Night; Apple Tree; Mouse Dreaming; Goldfish; Animal Lore; The Wreck of The Hope; From the Hungarian; Bird; The Spring; The Earth; Ant; A Poem about Two Seals; Winter Trees; Storks; Snail; The Bear’s Dilemma; Three Short Verses About the Wind; Sleighbells; Deep in the Wood the Violets Drowse; My Dog Ace; Happy New Year


“This is a very dangerous book: it plays with words, with fire, with water, with animals – with anything and everything: even refrigerators and ice-creams. After I read it, the world wasn't the same again. If you read it, you won't be either.” —Michael Rosen


In the Land of Giants is a wonderful book. Buy a copy and see for yourselves. Or just browse through one and then see if you can resist buying it. George’s reading at the launch had both children and adults spellbound. Those of you who know him, or have heard him at readings, or even just met him briefly will be unable to read these poems without hearing his distinctive and mesmerizing voice somewhere deep inside your ear.” —Hilary Mellon In Sweat and Tears


“The subject matter ranges widely; some are fantastic for younger children, some are probably more to be appreciated by parents. There is also a selection of translations from the Hungarian, by Ottó Orbán and Zoltán Zelk, among others. I loved ‘The Lost Sock Mystery', which references MI5 and which by a happy coincidence I first read online while rolling socks and watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Alec Guinness.” —The Stone and the Star


“To my mind, he is the very best of poets for children (and adults, for that matter). Never showy or superior, equally comfortable with or without rhyme, and showing us the mystery, wonder and humour of the world with clarity and elegance. He observes and transforms, beginning with the everyday and ending somewhere else, inviting us into the poems, showing us what we thought we knew and revealing that we knew more than we thought. In this collection, there are over sixty poems to enjoy and share. Don’t miss it.” —Books for Keeps


“The collection begins with poems that play with the English language and ends with poems translated from the Hungarian. The centrepiece is a series of poems focusing on a variety of characters, several of whom feel small and insignificant in a big world – the land of the giants.” —Eastern Daily Press



“'No primary-school teacher who reads poetry to children should be without George Szirtes’s The Red-All-Over Riddle Book.” —Sarah Johnson The Times



George SzirtesGeorge Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948, and came to England with his family after the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. He was educated in England, training as a painter, and has always written in English. In recent years he has worked as a translator of Hungarian literature, producing editions of such writers as Ottó Orbán, Zsuzsa Rakovszky and Ágnes Nemes Nagy. He co-edited Bloodaxe’s Hungarian anthology The Colonnade of Teeth. His Bloodaxe poetry books are The Budapest File (2000); An English Apocalypse (2001); Reel (2004), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize; New & Collected Poems (2008) and The Burning of the Books and other poems (2009), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2009. Bloodaxe has also published John Sears’ critical study Reading George Szirtes (2008). Szirtes lives in Norfolk and teaches at the University of East Anglia.

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