Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tarra tarra tumtum do dobedo: The Third Fabulous Poetry Competition results

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Catriona Ferguson, the Director of the New Zealand Book Council, joined me last week to help select the winners for The Third Fabulous Poetry Competition. We both felt it was a wonderful way to spend a morning.

I had made a long list of fifty schools that submitted exciting entries. With much reading and thinking, I had then selected three finalists in each region. It was tough job as there were standout poems every way I looked. In the end, I returned to my competition brief and selected schools that sent quality writing in a range of ages and styles. Once I got down to around 20 schools, I took into account editing as well as poetic zim. My three finalists all submitted poems that made me go ‘aah!’ ‘amazing’ ‘lovely’—just like when you watch fireworks.

Today I am posting the names of the finalists and the winners.

On Tuesday I will post a selection of poems from the winning schools.

On Thursday I will post some standout poems  that I loved in my long list of 50 schools.

The winning schools get a two-day visit from me courtesy of The New Zealand Book Council and a year’s membership to the organisation if they don’t have one.

Congratulations to the finalists and the winners. A special mention to West End School. I will scan and post some of your poems as yours were my favourite presentations. Bravo!



Gladstone School, Mt Albert    Winner

Green Bay Primary School

Point View School, Howick


North Island

Te Aro School, Wellington   Winner

Onekawa School, Napier

West End School, Palmerston North


South Island

Russley School, Christchurch   Winner

Lower Moutere School, Nelson

Arrowtown School



The Poetry Competition at St Kentigerns Girls’ School was a splendid occasion


Recently I got to judge the Poetry Competition at St Kentigerns Girls’ School. The girls recited their poems beautifully and each poem had little nuggets of gold. The detail was magnificent, the words made music and the moods were magical. I loved the way one moment I laughed, the next moment I pondered and then next I felt moved. It was very hard picking winners because as Barbara Else said at The NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, everyone was a champion.

I borrowed what Joy Cowley said at the awards (‘We are a people of children’s books and people associated with children’s books are lovely people.’ ) to say we are people of poetry and people associated with poetry are lovely people. I also borrowed what Keri Kaa said, ‘There are many words and images you can use, but only the right combination will do. When you have the right combination the words and images are so much more.’  That is just right for poetry!


The Year 1 and 2 poets performed their poems exquisitely (they don’t get judged). The poems I scanned are year 1. I want to share their poems first. After that you can see the winners.


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Grey rhino

Ginormous dinosaur

Swings its trunk

Sprays water


by Aanya, Year 1



Hops, hops all day







Dazzling Autumn Leaves

Looks like brown, red, wet leaves on the green grass,

Smells like disgusting dirty rubbish

from yesterday,

I crunch leaves with my feet,

The leaves swing and crash down to the ground in the wind,

I like wet leaves.

By Sophie, Year 2


Stunning Autumn Leaves

Wet and droopy leaves,

Smells like yucky sloppy mud,

Making fairy houses is fun with leaves,

Leaves are whirling, crashing and floating from the trees.

Leaves are dazzling on a summer’s day.

Sienna, Year 2


Beautiful Leaves

Yellow multi coloured leaves,

I can throw them high in the sky,

Tumbling and twirling down to the ground,

Smells like squishy muddy wet grass,

I love old coloured leaves.

By Sophia, Year 2



Quiet flaky leaves almost shiver in the breeze.

The most beautiful colours come before your eyes

Of gold, red and yellow.

I see children playing in humongous piles of leaves.

The bitter cold on most

makes the leaves freeze.

By Lucy, Year 3, Joint Winner


Peaches the pirate

My name is Peaches the pirate

and I am the meanest pirate in all of the seas.

My hair is gold and plaited.

My bunny is called Apples.

I like to eat peach.

I have a dress that is gold and has peach on it.

I have a friend called Lola and Emma.

I have gold boots.

I have a compass that is bright orange.

And I have a sword that is bright orange.

My ship is called the Caribbean Peach.

It has a big peach on it.

Apples likes to eat apples.

I wear a pirate hat with a crown on it.

My favourite colour is orange.

Guess what my favourite letter is aargh(r). Get it!

By Chloe, Year 3 Joint Winner


Hillary’s ice cracker

I’m Hillary’s ice axe.


I was there hearing the news when Edmond was born on July the 20th 1919.

It was such an exciting moment.


I was there knowing that my one and only owner would soon come.


When Hillary’s interest in climbing came at the school trip to Mt Ruapehu, I was very excited then and always jiggled about.


I was there for the first time when he climbed Mt Oliver in the Southern Alps—It was very cold and frosty.


I was there in his cupboard when he left me for awhile when he applied to join the NZ Air Force in thhe horrible World War 2.


I was there at Everest.


Hillary and Tensing Norgay set out for the summit.


We were at 8,848 metres high from sea level.


We went hard for the last few metres—the last ascent past the Hillary Step was the hardest part to climb. We chipped in the final steps and made the summit.


We felt relieved






and also very amazed.


We knocked it off.

I’m Sir Edmond Hillary’s ice axe.

By Cassie, Year 4 Winner


Suvine My Cat

Sunset fur,

Lawnmower purr,

Coat like dappled sunlight,

Meows so loudly at night!

Piercing eyes, as green as meadows seen,

With her question mark tail

Fluffy and clean.

Suvine my cat

Jumps on the table

While Mom’s head’s low,

Nicks a little broccoli

“No Suvine NO!”

I lift her off the table,

Despite all meows of protest,

Set her on the couch now,

And tell her to “Just rest!”


My kitty eats the strangest things,

Like corn and beans and cheese,

Rice and mice and butter and lice and

Much, much more indeed!

Suvine, Suvine, Suvine.

My wonderful, loving,

Fabulous, fat,




By Vivian, Year 5 Winner


Nature’s autumn

Atumn’s wind is cold on my skin

It howls, in my ear

The trees rustle

They are whispering to me


Sun shines, through the grey clouds

As the dappled light in summer

the sky seems to cry,

as drops of water fall

onto the coloured leaves


Ples of gold, brown, orange and red

scattered everywhere

Everything turns flaky

piles of gold and brown.


Autmn is a season of colour.

By Nieve, Year 6 Winner


If Only

If only all the dead could cry out in a single roar

To say don’t send another son

To give his life to war.

They’d say look at how we lay,

Without life or limb

The bullet that tore our hearts apart

Has caused our eyes to dim.

The orders are the same,

Move forward boys, make haste

Just put your mind to the task

Don’t think of the horror and waste

The war boys, the war is for all!

God is on the side that’s right.

But the devil owns the battlefield

When you hear the cries at night.

If only all the dead could cry out in a single roar

To say don’t send another son

To give his life to war.

By Kristen, Year 7 Winner

Note from Paula: This poem got me thinking as sometimes it is hard to tell where the right is in war. I sometimes wonder if there is right and wrong on all sides.


He’s the deepest

Olive green.

With his smooth,

eggshell white

chest exposed,

he crashes clumsily

through branches adorned

by fresh morning rivulets.

His slow, heavy

Wingbeats break

Through the stark silence.

His eyes,

Droplets of cranberry red wine.

He picks

On the last of the berries,

Then, calling a soft farewell,

‘Coo-coo, coo-coo’

He escapes Winter’s grasp,

A bird of serene hues,

He is the Kereru.


Annie, Year 7 Honour Award



That Snowy December



No-one believed me when I tried to tell

What happened when deep in the snow I fell.

They thought I was lying

And I went home crying.

But I still remember

That snowy December.


I walked to the well with a bucket in hand

Wishing I was on a beach with warm sand.

I looked into the distance

at things non-existent.

I’ll always remember

That snowy December.


I’d reached the small well when I spotted a stream.

I followed the water, I walked in a dream.

Then I started falling

For something was calling.

Oh, how I remember

That snowy December.


The rest of the story you’ll have to work out

You’d think I was mad if I told you, no doubt.

Or think I was lying

And I would start crying

Perhaps you remember

That snowy December.

By Sophia, Year 8 Winner





Poetry Box has 999 followers … whoa

… that is rather special! Lots of things coming up.

… the winners of The Third Fabulous Poetry Competition announced soon

…launching my new book The Letterbox Cat at Storylines Family Day in Auckland with the help of some young poets

…The Hot Spot Poetry Tour with lots of things for you to do


Thanks to everyone who follows this blog,



A visit to a cool library

My visit to Milford School uncovered some cool ideas for Book Week. The lovely librarian showed me some of the Poetry Books classes had made and told me the school is dressing up in their favourite characters from poems for their Book Parade. Two very good ideas. It was a cool school to visit. Thank you!

We had a mass poem-writing session and the children made up some poems in the hall to celebrate the library. Here is one of them:

My Amazing Library

Our school library

Is my free ticket to…


Trees and house keys,

Italy and pizzas,

Antarctica and apples,

Harry Potter and J.K Rowling,

Lord Voldemort and a lion’s roar,

Space and sun,

Disneyland and The Beatles band,

A bread toaster and my mum’s cup coaster,

but the best place I like to be

is in my school library.

Islay, Year 5, Milford School




wobbly words meant I got to meet Phoebe


I was so delighted to meet Phoebe at Balmoral School’s Wobbly Word Week (Book Week).

She sent in an astonishing poem about her Gran for one of my  challenges so I sent her copy of Wonder ( a book I love so much). She told me she has read it and loves it. It is a book for Year 7 or 8 but maybe some Year Sixes might like it too.

If I come to your school and you have sent me poems do come and say hello!

You can read Phoebe’s poem here.



Poems from the two challenges after Reading Stories For Six Year Olds (get ready for giants and flapping tshirts

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Haley, Age 10, Year 6, Mangatangi School

Haley’s poem was for the mixed-up-language poem inspired by Margaret Mahy’s wonderful story about three animals who speak different languages but get on well.

Mangatangi School sent in a bunch of terrific poems for this challenge and the Why The Sky is Blue? challenge so I am going to do something a little different and give a copy of the book to your class (THANK YOU RANDOM HOUSE!). I know you are Year 4, 5 and 6, but the stories are so cool you can take turns to read them to younger children in your school. Anyway, you are never too old for these stories. let me know which one you love the best!

Ewen and Isla also wrote cool poems for the sky question. I loved Isla’s imaginative leaps and Ewen’s idea that blue got there first!


Why is the sky blue?

The sky is blue in the day because

A giant spilled his light-blue paint

He couldn’t clean it up


The sky is dark in the night because

An old navy t-shirt hangs out to dry

with little holes that we call stars


The sky is blue in the day because

The sea has overflowed the land and

a great tsunami sweeps through space


The sky is dark in the night because

A great blue bird stretches out his wings

to shelter us from the sun so we can sleep.


By Isla Year 7, Aged 11, St Mary’s College, Ponsonby


The Sky is Blue

The sky is blue because

the ocean is

the sky is blue because

it likes my pen

the sky is blue because

blue got there first

the sky is blue because

it is

Ewen aged 11, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch


And four poems from Mangatangi School, Pokeno. Imagination is hard at work here!

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Lily, Age 9, Year 5

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Haley, Age 10, Year 6


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Irene, Age 10, Year 6


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Sasha and Alice, Age 8 and 9, Year 4 and 5


The NZ Poet Book Awards was a splendid occasion


Last night I attended the NZ Post Book Awards as neither judge nor nominee which was a very fine thing to do! The Auckland Town Hall was like a children’s wonderland. Everyone oohed and aahed when they walked in. There was even a cake under a glass dome on the table, that looked like it had been plucked out of a fairy story.  There was a little label saying Eat Me! And so we did!

I was delighted to see two of my favourite books do well.  I talked about the Supreme Winner and Winner of the Picture Book category, The Boring Book on Poetry Box here. Vasanti Unka was surprised and delighted that her book won.

I also talked about one of my favourite novels of 2013, Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire here, in my review of The New Zealand Herald. This book won Best Young Adult Fiction.

Here are two things I heard winners say in their speeches that I just loved :

Joy Cowley said, ‘We are a people of children’s books and people associated with children’s books are lovely people.’  Hear! Hear! Joy won Best Junior Fiction Category.

Keri Kaa said, ‘There are many words and images you can use, but only the right combination will do. When you have the right combination the words and images are so much more.’ I totally agree with this and it seems like a very fine recipe for poems. Keri won the Maori Language Award.

NZ Post Book Awards

*The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka. New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of Best Picture Book category.
*The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson. Best Non-Fiction.
*Dunger by Joy Cowley. Best Junior Fiction category winner.
*Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox. Best Young Adult Fiction winner.
*A Necklace of Souls by Rachel Stedman. Best First Book.
*The Three Bears … Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley. Children’s Choice category winner.
*Bugs by Whiti Hereaka. Honour award.
*Taka Ki Ro Wai by Keri Kaa and Martin Page. Maori Language award.

At Balmoral School the words just bubbled and bubbled

Last week I had a great visit to Balmoral School. The students came up with some sizzling lines for poems when I worked with all the Year 5 and 6s in the auditorium. I did a workshop and words bubbled and bubbled. I loved them all, but here are a few of my favourite bird poems. Thanks for a super school visit.


Kiwi As

Active kiwi

hiding his rough camouflage

blending in with the bushes wobberling

through the dark

deep forest, the sharp

beak dragging along the

forest floor, the moon

shning on the kiwi

kiwi as

Ben Year 6


Black-billed Gull

Oil on snow

swoops down

glorious gliding gull

soaring, gliding, landing

pecks a bug


Piddle, paddle, looks up

at the sky

3, 2, 1


Ink-gull flies.

Noah Year 6


Blue Duckie Funny shuffle

Plips nuff

Snuffle scroog

Plip snuff


Flap flap




Splish Splosh

Night Night.

Sadie Year 5


NZ Falcon

Curved dagger beak

waiting for the

sound of tiny feet,

claws like knives

poised to strike,

floats above

watching for movement.

George Year 6


Clumsy Kereru

Shiny green,

slomsly flaps through the

forest, crashes on a



to others,

feathers shining

eyes shining,

wobbling through the air

searching for


then swooping

onto the

Ben Year 6



Ocean blue

neatly perching on the jiggered twig.

Hunting for food

in the crisp autumn leaves.

Its beak as black as

coals on fire.

Flippy flap

tweet chirp

peck pick

rustle rustle

Catrin, Year 6

A challenge to go with Doggy Ditties from A to Z


Scholastic have published a collection of Doggy Ditties From A to Z by Jo van Dam and illustrations by Myles Lawford.

Every letter of the alphabet has a bouncy little poem with lots of rhyme and a rollicking rhythm, so it is fun to read aloud. And every poem is about a dog! That is a lot of doggy ditties!

To celebrate this book I challenge you to:

1. choose a letter of the alphabet

2. write a dog poem that begins with the letter of that alphabet

3. use at least 5 words starting with your chosen letter (or more!)

4. check out your rhythm … does every line sound good?

5. try writing it with NO rhyme and see what happens

6. try using surprising rhyme and see what happens

7. try using Dr Seuss rhyme and see what happens


DEADLINE for your Dog-Alphabet-Poem Challenge: Wednesday July 2nd

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 Dog-Alphabet-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and thanks to Scholastic can give the book to one poet (Year 0 to Year 8).




Deadline for Third Fabulous Poetry Competition is today but don’t panic

Dear Schools,

Don’t worry if your school entry is a day or so late!

If you send them digitally it is much easier if you paste the poems in a single file so I don’t have to click on hundreds of poems individually.


Will let you know early next week when I will post the results.