Monthly Archives: March 2014

Here are the last EYE poems (Post 3)

Students at Russley School used their EYES and went on a hunt around the school for inspiration for their poems.

First I will post these two poems and then some photos so you can see what sparked the students’ imagination.

Jacko has chosen a terrific simile for his poem about a flower — and then hunted for words that make that flower an eye-catching image in your mind as you read. Great job Jacko! I am sending you a copy of my poetry book, Macaroni Moon. I hope you have FUN reading it. Let me know your favourite poem.

The second poem is a team effort which is a great idea!  Emily and Jayda also used their EYES to hunt for fascinating things and simmering similes.

These young poets have shown us poems are everywhere — right in front of your eyes! In your back garden and your school playground.

Feel free to send me your poem! I might post a few more throughout the year.


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Here are the photos. Spot their points of inspiration:

elephant trunk chess board flamingo flowers


Here are the second lot of EYE-ZINGING poems (Post 2)


Here is Post 2 with some great EYE poems. Everyone used their EYES and everyone went hunting for EYE zinging words. I need to stock up on book prizes so just a handful to give away today.



Some students from Golden Sands School at Papamoa sent in poems that had EYE popping detail. The juicy words made the subjects of their poems come alive. I loved them all but I have picked some to post. Great job—they were all fabulous poems.


I am sending Cole a copy of Creepy Crawlies (amazing animal facts and puzzles to match his cool bat poem) and thanks to the lovely author Melanie Koster I am sending Olivia a copy of Melanie’s book, The Reluctant Little Flower Girl (this has gorgeous illustrations by Jenny Cooper and is about feisty flower girl!).


It’s marble like eyes

watch intently

over the land.


Its striped feathers

rustle as

its wings spread.


By Joshua, aged 7 years. 



Wings spread out like a speck of a tree

Slimy skin slides across the stone brick wall

Eyes of the bat are a fluro red colour

He is looking at you …


The Bat.

By Cole, aged 8 



The Mystery Animal

The razor sharp teeth are as white as the bright

glistening moon shining on the water.

By Joe, aged 8


The turquoise scales are like shooting stars;

The shimmer of the surfaces where they look like cars.

Their diverse bodies like slimey gunge,

All cold and wet like a slippery sponge.

As the sun goes down don’t make a peep,

As the aquatic creatures are sleeping

down deep



Aria, aged 10.


White Kiwi

Feathers as white as the glowing moon on the night sky

Shuffling along the track moving the crisp leaves as it goes

Night passes over the land as it peeps out

By Olivia, aged 8, Year 4




With its strong body the tiger prowls through the

green jungle like the sly hunter it is.


It pounces off a tree like a monkey

and lands on its four feet.


Its fiery eyes stare at me with confidence as

if it was going to jump on me like a big, crazy dog


It opens its ferocious mouth

and roars like the king

it wants to be.


It’s terrific tail swishes around in the

wondrous wind like a million seagulls fighting

over one tiny piece of bread.

Maya, aged 9



The old


grey elephant

with feet as massive as river rocks

and ears flapping like a bird

reluctantly plods

through the grass

Phoebe, aged 10.


Mist swirled

twinkling fingers of pale sunlight

like the silent echo of birdsong

lanced through silky white fur

like soft milky moonshine.

Madi, aged 9





Damian has found great detail to make a picture of a tree shine on the page.


My Tree 

My favourite tree so broad and bold

surrounded by leaves

it has scattered when old,

the bark so rough

and its wood

so tough,

its long branches

when blown around

swing and dance,

its roots so deep

covered by dirt,

keeping it up so tall and steep

Damian, 11 years old, Bream Bay College, Whangarei






Ellie has used rhyme and short lines to make a poem that has terrific rhythm and EYES at the centre. Great job Ellie!


What Eyes Show

Eyes know

Where minds go

Stories old

Stories told


Green and blue

Hazel too

Flecks are poised, like birds in flight

they flit between the dark and light


Angry glaring

Lonely staring

Slyly peeking

True love seeking


Eyes show

Where minds go

Dreams met

Secrets kept

By Ellie, age 12, Year 8, Prebbleton School, Christchurch






Students at Glen Eden Primary School also sent in some terrific poems. I have picked a few to post.They have used some ELECTRIC similes to make their poems zing and pop.


Great White Shark

Great White Sharks are fast like the wind

And Superman

Swimming fast and strong

Like the Hulk

Scary and horrifying

Sharp teeth like a knife

By James K (Year 4)


Diamond Crazy Green Fish

Green like grass

Crazy like me

Diamondy like a crystal

Shiny like the sun

Spotty like a jacket

Crazy fish

By Ferila (Year 4)


Spooky Fish

Wobbly like a snake

Big like an elephant

Sharp like a torpedo

Strong like superman

Fast like a car

Spooky like a ghost

By Jerome (Year 4)







Room 8 at Ohaupo School sent in a bunch of cool EYE poems. They looked a bit like eyes on the page and had eyes as their subjects. I like the way the young poets went hunting for eye words and found words that surprised me!


I loved reading them all but here are a couple of my favourites (I love the word ‘cucumber’ in a poem so I am sending Sophie a copy of one my favourite Gecko Press picture books, Donkeys):




Shimmering, beaming

Twinkling, gleaming, beady eyes

Golden, inky, sparkling, sunless

Pitch black, rayless, dusky

Faint, murky


By Ashtyn, Year 6, aged 10





Green alien

Spying, sneaking, twitching

Emerald jelly

Gooey gumballs

Sophie, Year 6, aged 1 0



Coffee brown

Winking, flashing, observing

Coco chocolate

Crackling walnuts


By: Aimee O’Connor

Year: 7   Ages: 11






Chilling, bloodcurdling

Flashing, petrifying, alarming

Blind, shinnying, sleeping, steering

Unlocked, unbolted, unfastened

Magnificent, dawning

By: Elizabeth, age 11, Year: 7


Blue eyes

Sapphire, ocean blue

Shinning, blinking, concentrating

Navy, icy blue, emerald, light

Olive, cucumber, forest green

Pickle green

Green eyes

Sophie, Year 6, age10




Here are some of my favourite EYE catching poems (Post 1- mostly picture poems)

Thank you for trying out my EYE catching challenges. I have loved reading all the poems. It was really tough picking some to post as I can’t post them all. But what fun you had and what fun I had reading them all.

You really have used your EYES!

I am posting these in THREE parts.

I have picked one or two young poets to send a book. I couldn’t post all the poems so if you didn’t get posted this time DO try again. I will be posting the first  April Poetry Challenge on Tuesday.

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I don’t usually get to use colour on Poetry Box but because I am taking screen shots of all your beautiful poems, the colour stays! I love the layers in Gemma‘s poem. There are EYES here, YES! And there are different ways of SEEING things. This is a great topic for a poem — the way things are DIFFERENT depending on who is LOOKING! Marvellous poem Gemma!

Gemma is aged 8 and is in Year 4 at Adventure School in Porirua. This is what she told me about her poem: “It is partly true… my cat really does think she’s a lion. I guess we have different purrspectives!” Thanks Gemma.  Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 2.12.10 PM

This is an EYE poem by Jack that really is an EYE poem. You will have to squivvel and swivle to read which is cool. Jack is in Year 6 and goes to Fendalton Open Air School. He is aged 9 and a regular contributor to Poetry Box.

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Hawwa’s poem plays with how the words look on the page (this is fun to do!). It is a mysterious poem that I enjoyed reading. I tried just reading the big words which was fun. And then the whole thing. Great job Hawwa!

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Above is Daniel‘s terrific apple poem. I love all the bright red ‘o’s like little red apples on the tree. Daniel is 5 and in year 1 at Adventure School in Porirua. He has done a picture poem (concrete poem) that makes a picture glow on the page and a picture glow in your head. Great job Daniel!

And below is Jack‘s terrific piano poem or poem piano! You can almost play the notes and lines and let them sing out. Great job Jack. As I said above, Jack is in Year 6 and goes to Fendalton Open Air School. He is aged 9 and a regular contributor to Poetry Box. I am sending Jack a copy of a Sticker World Atlas so he can have exploring other places. Maybe he can write a poem about somewhere he ends up! And send it to me! Great job Jack!

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Finally Ewen‘s poem about a walk she did on her camp in Kaituna Valley. I love the way the words loop around and back like when you go up and down a mountain. Her poem makes a picture on the page (concrete poetry) but it sings too! I loved the lines ‘through the bush streams mud and cow poo. Up steep and thin paths.’ Great job Ewen. Ewen is in Year 7, aged 11 and goes to Cobham Intermediate in Christchurch. This is the photo of the view:












The Margaret Mahy Day at Storylines- a splendid morning all round



On an autumny Saturday morning I went to Storyline’s Margaret Mahy Day in Auckland.

Storylines works really hard for children in New Zealand. I took my girls to the Auckland Family Day for years and came away feeling inspired .. full of talk, stories and books.

Here are my highlights from Saturday (apart from catching up with all the writers, librarians, Storylines people and fans of children’s books!)

1. There is always an awards part and I was delighted to see Jenny Hessell, the author of the fabulous Grandma McGarvey books, got the Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book.


When Jenny made her ‘thank-you’ speech, she said she woke up with the first two lines of Grandma McGarvey in her head, and that it was like a gift. And then she went on the big Grandma McGarvey adventure.  The books are all illustrated by Trevor Pye. See Scholastic page about news here.

2. Emma Vere-Jones was awarded the Joy Cowley Award for a Picture Book. The book will be published by Scholastic. Her book is called Stan and the Van.


I loved Emma’s speech. She thanked her parents for ‘giving me the gift of reading, it is truly a great gift.’ She also admired teachers that help children find books they are really passionate about.

3. There was the launch of last year’s Tom Fitzgibbon Award Winner, Juliet Jacka‘s book Night of the Perigee Moon. It is a novel about a 13 year old.

In her speech she said she gets easily distracted — but that when you get past the distraction you  transform yourself into what you want to be. Here is Juliet with the fabulous Fleur Beale (lots of writers made special trips to be part of the occasion!).


4. Terrific news! Tessa Duder announced that thanks to the  Walker Books Australia, The Tessa Duder Award for a YA novel would be run again. Entries have to be in by  October. Here is Tessa with the effervescent Deborah Burnside.


5. Melinda Szymanik won two Notable Book Awards for books I have sung the praises of on Poetry Box. While You are Sleeping illustrated by Greg Straight (Duck Creek Press) and  A Winter’s Day in 1939  (Scholastic). See my features here and here.  Well deserved!

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6. Finally David Elliot, winner of the year’s Margaret Mahy Medal and illustrator extraordinaire, gave The Margaret Mahy Lecture.  It was such a treat to see the images of his drawings and to hear stories behind them.  He told us that when The Moon and Farmer McPhee was finished, Margaret said: David and I have done our 50% of the work, now it’s your turn! I love the way as readers we get to bring a book into our own worlds as we read.

And a great fact: David used to be the Gatekeeper of a zoo in Britain which meant he lived in the Gatekeeper’s House. The house was in the wall and wasn’t much wider than the wall, and was TALL! And when everyone left for the day he got to roam and draw and imagine! Wow!

He told us how the zoo sparked his pen. How the lion keeper was large and gruff with a mane-like beard. He also said there were cages and fences for all the exotic wild animals that people came to see. But local British animals also snuck in – foxes, rats, badgers and they were all thieves!).

It was a wonderful talk and, if you get a chance, come and hear the talk of next year’s Medal winner. I have been to a few now and they have all been great.  Here is David signing a book for Matt Katz (also an illustrator).


an EYE number plate that is an EYE poem


Poet Bill Manhire tweeted this very cool photo of his car number plate.

When I was out driving with my girls when they were young, we used to try and turn number plates into poems … actually I still do sometimes when I am on a long drive.

Bill’s number plate is a poem by Aram Saroyran.

eYe EyE eYe EyE…. last day for eye poems!

…. I  have a LOT of eYe poems to read

poEms whErE you have usEd your EyEs

to hunt for dEtail ….                       or made pictures with WoRdS                         on the p a g e


whooo my eyes went wonkY typing like that!


I will have fun reading thEm all

so a big thank you young poets!


I will post some favourites in the next few days.

Wow! Hannah’s murky bog is STUNNING (she’s in Year 4)

I was so delighted when Hannah sent me this piece of writing. Hannah is in Year 4 and goes to Redcliffs School in Christchurch. Thanks to the New Zealand book Council I got to visit this splendid school last year.

I love the way Hannah has worked at editing her piece. It is full of EYE catching detail, juicy words, dancing similes. This piece of writing is a JOY to read.  Thank you Hannah! I have read it SEVEN times so far.



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An EYE catching book by Gavin Bishop

I am a big fan of New Zealand writing so, even though this is a poetry blog, this year I will tell you about new books I like the look of– stories, picture books, non-fiction as well as poetry! Here is one to start with.

cv_bidibidi   cv_bidibidi

Gavin Bishop is one of my favourite New Zealand illustrators because his illustrations catch my eye every time and I just say, ‘Wow!’ And he writes tories too!

Scholastic has reissued and redesigned Gavin’s classic book Bidibidi and it is especially beautiful. I wish I could tell exactly how the illustrations are done but it looks like some kind of water colour (not oils) and ink pen. Such fine detail! Such gorgeous colours.

This is the story of a groany, moany sheep who lives in the high country of New Zealand. She always wants to be somewhere else (like under that rainbow she spots).

Stella the Kea nags at her to change her life if she doesn’t like it (at this point the story could take off to a marvelous anywhere!). And so it does.

Bidibidi finds all kinds of excitements and dangers— and where she ended up was a surprise to me!

This book has also been released in Te Reo Maori.

Gavin Bishop, Bidibidi, Scholastic, 2014 (first published in 1982 by Oxford University Press)

paint a p o e m p i c t u r e

Some poets like to write poems that fill the reader’s head with pictures.

Give it a go.

Pick something you want to make a picture with words.

You want the picture to grow in the mind of the reader so it is not like my picture poems that make a picture on the page. Tricky!

You could pick the hills you see on the way to school, or the cloudy sky, or the tree in your back garden.

Go hunting for words that tell me what it looks like. You will have to stop and look before you start writing.  Pay attention to everything and hunt for words that show detail. Find REAL detail like a poet detective.

Then write a poem.  Show it to someone and see if they get the picture in their head.

You could write the poem and not say what the thing is.  Or say it at the end.


You can enter this in the Eye-Poem Challenge.

DEADLINE for your Eye-Poem Challenge: Thursday March 27th

Send to Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the eye-poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one poet.