Some of my favourite winter poems will get a LIANZA Book Award notebook woohoo!

Winter has been an extremely popular topic for poem writing. What a lot of poems arrived.  How wonderful for me but it does mean lots of you missed out on being picked to be posted this time. I was especially delighted that some classes sent in bunch of poems (terrific poems from Hillcrest School and Karitane School). It shows how poetry is bubbling away in classrooms.

The poems that really caught my eye and ear had lines that sounded good, real detail and strong images. These things make your mouth water and your ears sing as you read.

Sometimes simplicity is gold in a poem. I have picked these children to send a LIANZA Book Award notebook to: Summer W, Trinity, William S and Emma C.

But you all deserve notebooks to write poems in!

Plus I was so delighted with the huge number of wonderful poems from Hillcrest School ( I could only post a few) I am sending them a copy of my book The Letterbox Cat and other Poems. Thank you!

Summer in Winter

As sun burns my face
as snow tickles my toes
I wonder what is life really all about.

Summer W Year 4, age 8 Karitane School


The winter art

Frozen blue

With green, pink and blue cascading down

Into the ice


Cold white

Once flowing down

Now solid


The grey paint

Endlessly traveling

Down a never ending canvas


Falling clouds

Never ending

Until light comes

To the painting

Emma C Age: 10  Selwyn House School


A Winter Hill

Everyday a winter hill is silent
And it is always winter there
I went to a winter hill once
It was as cold as snow
A winter hill loves it’s home
Animals live on winter hills
Polar beers eat plants that grow
The Winter Hills have secrets!
They do not say to the animals
When the grass dies
The winter hills start to fade
While the grass dies
The winter hills tell the animals
The secrets they have kept.

Trinity Aged 7. St Andrews College. Christchurch


Delicate Frost

My eyes shimmer and reflect in the crumbly frost

Little dwarf icicles, rest upon the damp grass

Substance on my feet travels throughout the room

Intense arctic chill, sending an icy storm through my feet

Like a piece of broken glass sitting in my hand

Dew breaks and crumples on the strips of land

Carys F,  Room: 7 Age: 10 Hllcrest Normal School


Frozen Frosts

Frozen yoghurt texture, when without sunlight

Rough feeling on my chilled fingers

On different types of nature’s objects

Sugar grain size, all clumped together

Tiny ice hairs, all in a group

Shimmery and slippery underneath my feet

Charlotte H Room: 7  Age: 10 Hillcrest Normal School


In the morning

Fierce, Freezing feet

unReasonably cold fingers

bOiling the jug for a hot chocolate

Shiny and crunchy plants

Tinted windows filled with ice

Luca H, Room: 7 Age: 10 Hillcrest Normal School


Kiwi winter

Warn heater that seems to attract my dog

In the car drinking hot drinks

No one wants to go outside

Tingling feeling in my nose from the winter frost

Eating a nice warm sausage after a wet game of rugby

Rainy day great for going to the movies

Finlay Shiels Room: 7 Age: 11 Hillcrest Normal School


The Blizzard Frost

Frost its frigid

It looks like sodium

Random shaped ice

If you eat it you won’t have a pleasant surprise

A relative of snow

Timothy Y Age 11 Room 7 Hillcrest Normal School



Snow falls during night
Whiter than the rose in the lawn
The children’s delight

Enya O  Age 12 Year 8    Selwyn House School Christchurch



Winter means snow to me
when it falls on top of the bare branch trees
when it drops so slowly from the gray clouds
and sets softly on the ground

Niamh C  Age 11   Selwyn House School Christchurch



Snowflakes are drifting like elegant ballerinas with frost covered trees behind them.
White clouds cover the sky,
the gods are cold.
Children ice-skate across the lake
with their parents…. everyone is happy.
Jenna H Year 4



It’s winter!

Time to dress up

In warm gear

And build a big snowman

Or make snow Egyptians.

First it will be snow Egyptians

Then a big snowman.

Now I will make the snowman.

Two minutes later

I finished the snowman.

One minute later

The snowman melts so

I build a new one.

 By William S  Age: 7 years, St Andrews


Negative Temperatures
I wake up to find
condensation lurking
the windows,
blurring the white grass
behind them.

Outside it’s grey
and gloomy,
the temperatures
dipping lower and lower,
layer upon layer
of clothes wrap
around me.

Walking out,
my breath is visible.
Gloves protect my hands,
but my face remains
red and exposed.

The sun resides
behind the clouds,
leaving us
with slippery slopes
and a place
where negatives
are a commonality.

Ewen W aged 12, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Snow Fight

Snow and frost covers the fields in a sparkly white blanket
The cows cuddle up in an airtight herd
horses rugged up.
Me and my brother run round the carpark
dogs hot on our heels.
Scraping frost off the windows,
enough for some snow balls.
Snowballs fly everywhere
like seagulls dive bombing our heads.
We scamper inside
we look worse than the dogs.
Granny feeds us hot chocolate and toast
then sends us straight to the fire.

Brook H Year 6, age 10 Karitane School



Winter, where are you?
Winter, I do not see you.
I want to see your snow but it’s not here.
Winter, you are like an ice cream  – as cold as snow
you are like an ice block – as cold as ice.
Can you find a tree and dress it with snow?
Why don’t you come?

Nikki L Year 4, age 8 Karitane School


Winter Poem

I stand in the middle of the court
I hear the sea
or is it the wind?
I see the seagull glide in the wind
I feel the rain
I hear the rain

Bella F Year 5, age 9 Karitane School




The teddy-bear-in-the-car poems – here are two favourites

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I gave you 24 hours to come up with a poem to tell the story of the giant teddy bear I saw in a car. I asked you to use a good dollop of imagination. Thanks for sending all your poems in at such short notice. I really enjoyed reading them.

I especially loved the stories in the poems that Gemma and Daniel wrote and the extra dollop of imagination they used. Their poems were helped by really strong detail that made the imaginary story come alive. Gemma tried a limerick which worked well. I liked all the ‘h’ words in Daniel’s poem. I wonder if Daniel has been to Hawaii? Great job!

I am sending a book to Gemma this time.


Ted’s Hawaiian Holiday

Once upon a lunchtime

Ted got really excited

He was going on holiday to Hawaii



Hordes of pineapples



His parents picked him up from school

He waved to all his friends

Said goodbye to his teacher

And promised in two weeks he’d be back again


Two weeks later

Room 26 got a postcard that read

“I will not be back”

Love from Ted


He was staying in Hawaii

‘til Christmas time

Because Hawaii is soooooooo awesome

Leaving early would be a crime.

By Daniel, aged 6, Year 2,  Adventure School.


The story of a big brave bear

Why is a bear sitting there

Without a care while people stare?

He just got married

And is waiting to be carried

Up to school for tell and share!

By Gemma, Year 5, Age 9, Adventure School




My writer-in-residency at Fairburn School in Otahuhu — their library, a welcome place for book lovers

In Term 3, I will be the Writer-in-Residence at Fairburn Primary School in Otahuhu.

Yesterday we met to make a plan and I got to see their wonderful library and meet the lovely Librarian and teachers.

The art work in the Library blew me away! It was so inspiring and made the library a very inviting place to be.

I discovered ex Prime Minister David Lange went to this school!

Next term I will share some of the things that happen when I am resident poet but in the meantime check out the art work! Just fabulous. Pictures can be like poems.

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A 24-hour teddy-bear challenge for you that requires some imagination

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Today I went to Fairburn School where I will be Resident Poet next term and  spotted this in a car outside the school.

I decided this teddy needs a poem. What is his or her story? What happens next? What has just happened? What is the teddy dreaming of? This poem can go anywhere, do anything but it must star the teddy.

It might be a very very short poem or a longer poem but it needs a dollop of imagination and an even bigger dollop of words and lines that sound good.


TIGHT DEADLINE:    Send your poem to me by 8pm on Wednesday July 1st (TOMORROW!) and I will post my favourite poems on Thursday morning. I will have a surprise book for one poet.

Write teddy challenge in subject line please.


Visiting Ranui Library I found a warm and cushty reading spot – So here’s a Library challenge for you


 On Saturday I popped into my closest library and discovered the best library reading spot ever. A fire was shimmering next to comfy chairs. 

 A bunch of children were singing in the children’s section. 

People were reading books. 

I walked out with a very cosy book feeling. 
A challenge for you

Tell me what you love about your local library or favourite library. Include a photo or two if you can. If you are in the photo reading a book, I need parental permission. 

Deadline August 30th

I will post them all and pick one child to send a copy of my book A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children to. 

Send to

A Year 7 reading group interviews Gary Cross — this is a fabulous interview! Thank you from Poetry Box

We are a reading group from a year 7 class at Saint Peter’s Prep School in Cambridge. We are really into our reading and have easily reached our fifty book target this year already! Fantasy is a huge part of our reading and we really enjoyed Gary’s Super Sister because it included the element of fantasy in everyday life. We have also been studying heroes so  this theme fit into the conversations we were having in class. Most of us are also really into writing! We write in our spare time and would love to know more about the writing process where which will help to get our own work published!

The interview


DSC_2582_01 9781869485283

Gary Cross is a junior fiction writer who usually writes horror stories. Some of his books are Super Sister, Borderland and Empire of the Dead. He lives with his wife Karen and his three kids in Auckland. He used to run his own advertising agency, but now is a creative director for others. He has several picture books and children’s novels published. He went to Horahora Primary and Whangarei High when he was younger and lived in a hotel that his parents owned and met a resident who told him horror stories which inspired his passion for writing them for his work.  (Note from Paula: I went to Horahora primary school too! I wonder how many other writers went there?)

  1. How do you get ideas for your books and titles?

Historical events (Plague of the Undead sprang from the idea of “what if the Great Fire of London was started to get rid of an infestation of vampires?”), current events, folk tales or legends, things that have happened to me, or even a casual conversation with a friend. Another inspiration was a guy called Paul Rogers who used to stay at the hotel my parents ran when I was a kid. He was blind – in exchange for me reading stories to him, he’d tell me stories he made up on the spot. They were always horror stories and featured my friends and myself – and would invariably end up with us getting torn apart by some sort of monster.

The titles tend to come while I’m writing the book – there might be a working title when I start but that often gets discarded as the novel progresses (The Infected, for example, started life as Dust Monsters).

Hammer Studios, who used to make horror movies starring Christopher Lee, used to come up with the title first (the more outlandish the better, like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! or Die, Die My Darling) and then write a script to suit, but for me, writing the story comes first, then the title. But what I have picked up from Hammer is trying to come up with titles that are as enticing as possible.


  1. What inspires the ideas for your characters and their names?

Some of my characters have been drawn directly from history (Plague of the Undead, Facing Jesse James and Walking into the Fire for example). Others are based on people I know – I had a major disagreement with someone once and they ended up being the inspiration for a villain in one of my books.

Virtually all of the characters from Super Sister were based on people I knew as a kid.

Character names are very important – they should reflect the character’s personality (think Jack Reacher, for example – very short, sharp, to the point and macho). For a villain, I try and concoct a slimy or brutal name. A gentle character should in turn have a more sedate, gentle name.
When I’m “inventing” a character I try and draw on character traits of people I know (one character can be made up of a number of people) – I find it easier to create a more fully developed character that way.


  1. How long do you spend on planning/drafting/editing?

It varies from book to book. Plus, if a book is accepted for publication, the editor or agent usually suggest a number of changes/edits.

Typically I draw up a broad outline first and write profiles for all of the main characters, then break the story down into chapter synopses and then start writing from there. I’ll often go back and change things as I write and sometimes, even when I had the ending all planned out, I may end up changing it because it doesn’t logically fit with the rest of the novel.


  1. When you were young, did you write? If so what/how?

Yes. My favourite subject at school was English – specifically when I got to write stories. When I was in high school I wrote stories that were revamps of old movies (like King Kong and Jaws) that featured my friends as the heroes and the local bullies as the bad guys. There was one time when one of the stories ended up in the hands of one of the bullies (he was rummaging through my school bag looking for something to steal) – it ended badly.

  1. What was your dream profession when you were young?

Being a movie director (and a movie critic).


  1. Do you plan the entire story before you write?

Yes. I find that if I don’t know where the story is headed, it’ll go off in all directions and writing becomes a hard slog. There have been a few instances when I haven’t had the plot planned before I started and it has shown in the finished product (I’ve had three books that haven’t been accepted for publication and in all cases these were ones that I wrote without having the story planned).

Leon Uris, who wrote lots of best-sellers in the 1970s, said that you shouldn’t start writing a book unless you know how it ends – and while there are people who have different views, I tend to agree with his.


  1. Are you currently writing a book? If so, what?


Yes. It’s called ‘The Infected.’ It’s a horror story set in the American Dustbowl during the Great Depression in the 1930s. A top secret army experiment that involves injecting soldiers with an aggressive strain of rabies (who the army then intends to let loose in enemy countries) goes out of control. The infected soldiers escape and everyone they bite turn into rabid maniacs and everyone the rabid maniacs bite turn into rabid maniacs and… you get the idea. The only chance the locals have of surviving comes in the form of gangster John Dillinger and his gang of psychopathic killers – and in the meantime the army is getting ready to use its new super bomb to cover up its mistakes.


  1. Do you have any tips for helping young writers such as us about writing/publishing?


  • – – Create characters that your reader can believe in. Readers are going to join your on your journey if they have strong emotional ties to the characters they’re journeying with. Try and base your characters on people you know – that way it’s easier for you to get a handle on them – their strengths, weaknesses, foibles etc. Before you start your story write a couple of paragraphs about each character. Not only what they look like, but how they feel. Their personality. Give them a background – where they came from, where they lived, did they have a happy childhood. It’s all stuff that will help create a three dimensional character – and help them to stay IN character throughout the book.
  • – – Treat even your minor characters with respect.
  • – – Know your world. Draw a map so you know how your characters get from A to B. If your story is set in a small town, map out the town and pinpoint where each character lives.
  • – – Share your creation. Get feedback from people you trust – friends, family, even a teacher. Invite feedback. And don’t be too protective. You’ll be surprised at how helpful some of that feedback will be.
  • – – Form a writer’s group and share your ideas.
  • – – Don’t “write what you know about” – what good is that going to be if you’re writing a science fiction story set on a far off planet or a tale about the zombie apocalypse. Instead, “write what you feel”. Write from the heart. You can draw on your own experiences and feelings and then adapt those to your narrative (let’s say you’ve had to walk home late at night. How did you feel? Were you scared? Vulnerable? Now use those emotions to describe how your hero feels when he’s trapped in a shopping mall with thousands of flesh-eating zombies.)
  • – – Always ask yourself “What If?”
  • – – Above all, have fun. And don’t give up. I got about twenty rejection notices before my first book (Borderland) was finally accepted – and ironically, it was accepted by the publisher who had rejected it several years before. I’d gone back and did a major rewrite, turning it from a gentle fantasy into more of a fantasy horror.
  • – – Which brings me to my last bit of advice – don’t be afraid to make changes. And keep making those changes until you feel you’ve written the best story you can.
  1. How many books have you started and not finished?

Two – but they literally didn’t get beyond the second page. I can usually tell at an early stage whether the idea is going anywhere. Having said that, some of the books I have finished didn’t really deserve to be.


Thank you so much for the hard work that went into this – Gary and all the students! A fascinating read for older children.