Monthly Archives: October 2014

Help! I have lost all your titles I have collected on tour

Some of you know now I have been collecting titles of poems from you at every event and school visit. I decided I would like to try and write a collection of children’s poems using your titles.

Fun! Challenging. Takes me to new places.

I had collected over 60 on Notes on my iPhone. Usually I write with a pen in my notebook.

Last night at the Remarkables event I accidentally deleted the lot.

I am gutted.

Maybe a whizz can find them. I can’t.

Meanwhile if you remember any titles I picked and short listed can you let me know please?

I need title, name of child and name of their school or email address.

If you can share this with anyone who can help …. Thanks

I am heartbroken. The children will be disappointed.


When I get home will email everyone I can think of and try and rebuild the list. With a pen in my paper notebook.


The Treasury Interviews: Max S interviews Doc Drumheller

The Interviewer: My name is Max Sinclair. I am a Year 6 student who lives in Queenstown, New Zealand and I like soccer. I go to Remarkables Primary School.

The Interviewed:


Doc Drumheller (2)

Doc Drumhelller (Jason Clements) was born in South Carolina but now lives in NZ as an author. He teaches in the School for Young Writers and has won numerous awards. He edits a literary magazine called Catalyst.


The Interview:

What inspired you to become an author?

I have always enjoyed writing, as a young boy I enjoyed writing stories, funny rap songs, and parody lyrics of popular songs. One of my first loves in the arts is music and as a teenager I became obsessed with the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan. His songs are like musical poems and I love how he expands awareness. I carried my harmonica with me everywhere and made up songs while I went for walks, then I began reading poetry that influenced Bob Dylan, and have been writing poetry ever since.


What were you feeling when your first book came out? Why?

The first time you see your work in print is very exciting, it’s a bit like Christmas time and birthdays rolled into one. I still feel a sense of joy when a journal arrives in the mail, not only because I like to see my poems in print, but because I love to read other writer’s work. I believe you never stop learning, and keeping that excitement alive makes all the hard work feel like fun.


Are you an illustrator as well?

I love art, and enjoy drawing, but wouldn’t call myself an illustrator. I have worked with many artists, and have had one of my poetry books illustrated.


What poem of yours is your favourite?

My favourite at the moment is: ‘The Republic of Oma Rāpeti’ (see below). I am a very keen gardener and was annoyed when GST was increased, especially the tax on food. Instead of staying grumpy, I worked harder in the garden and wrote a poem about it.


When you were young, what did you want to be?

My father died when I was seven years old and I wanted to become a medical researcher and find a cure for cancer. This experience is what made me become a writer, because at an early age I asked questions about the world around me, and now that I am older I still ask questions, and my poems are often attempts at finding an answer.


What was your first book?

My first book was called: Blueprint for Resurrection or Destruction and it was inspired by the mapping of the human genome. Science is still one of my interests and this book was the first part in a ten-year, ten-book project I have just completed called: 10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0. My first book of haiku is called Snake Songs and it was illustrated by my friend Rua Pick.


Note from Paula: What a great interview Doc and Max!  Thank you. Doc has a poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children that has such delicious detail and it sounds good in the ear.


The Republic of Oma Rāpeti


I planted a fruit and vegetable garden

out of protest against the rise in GST.


The finance minister disguised as a rat

hides in the corn row counting my kernels.


The opposition leader is a bumblebee

passed out drunk from the marigold’s nectar.


The minister of education is a caterpillar

growing fat off the cabbage patch kids.


But I refuse to use sprays or lay poison

because all are welcome in my garden.


To all the urban hippies waging invisible wars

go and plant a cucumber in your combat boots.


Sow a field of carrots to fuel your rebellion

like a roving republic of running rabbits.







The Treasury Interviews: Giselle interviews Fifi Colston

Fifi Head shot 2014   Wearable-Wonders-pages-and-cover

Fifi Colston Fifi Colston was born in Yorkshire, U.K and came to New Zealand in 1968. She left to go to England for two years, then came back and settled in Wellington. Fifi writes and illustrates books and has illustrated over 33 books and her illustrations can be seen in NZ School Journals, as well as on book jackets for publishers including: Scholastic, Learning Media, Shortlands, MacMillan and Longman Paul. Fifi’s book, Wearbale Wonders, won the LIANZA Elsie Locke Medal for Non Fiction this year. She has a blog called Fifi Verses the World.

About Me My name is Giselle. I’m a 10 year old, in Year 5 and I love to read and write. I live in Queenstown, New Zealand. I have a great imagination which can come in handy in writing.

The Interview

Who was your inspiration, that made you want to become a writer ?

If I look back a long, long way, it was the first book I can remember being able to read ‘all by myself’. I was 5 and the book was The Silver Thimble Storybook by Rie Cramer who was a Dutch illustrator and writer and the book was her retelling of fairytales like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Cinderella.’ I loved her pictures and I wrote and illustrated my own stories when I was a kid.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry for a magazine called Next after I went to a flash dress up ball and wrote a funny poem about making the dress. The magazine liked it and I ended up writing and illustrating a poem once a month for 8 years for the magazine. That’s 96 poems! After that I thought it would be fun to write a novel, so I did and it got published. Then two more after that and two non-fiction books too.

Do you use family experiences in your books? And if so, could you give me some examples?

The first book, Verity’s Truth, used lots of experiences of family camping holidays, from the house-bus fairs we’d go and visit, to the adventure playground in the camping park. The second book, Janie Olive, drew lots of inspiration from my son’s experimentation with fireworks!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m always busy with something; wearable art, running workshops, doing school visits, drawing, painting and making things. My work is also what I choose to do in my spare time, I love it so much. I also make myself go for long walks because if you don’t exercise your body even just a little bit your mind gets flabby. I hate sports so walking is great for me- and you see so many interesting things to write about on the way.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It’s how many people are involved. It’s not just me- there’s a publishing manager, an editor, a book designer, sometimes a photographer, printers, the sales team, bookshops…when I think I’m working by myself, I’m actually working with a lot of people to create a book.

What does your family think of you being a writer, illustrator, poet, Wearable-Art designer, film costumer, television presenter and occasional columnist?

They are really proud of my work and they have learned to live with a LOT of mess! They also make me feel better when I’m feeling my hard work isn’t noticed for some reason. They believe in me and that’s about the best thing your family can do.

Do you tend to read your published books over again? And if so, which books do you do it most to?

Not really, but every so often I need to go through one to pull out examples of things to talk to a school about and I’m always surprised that I still like what I’ve written. And quite often I think ‘Hey, that’s actually pretty good!’ which it probably should be if it’s been published!

We are doing a wearable art show at the end of the year, do you have any tips for us?        

Don’t just try and make a pretty dress. Wearable Art isn’t a fashion show, it’s about you trying to tell the world a story, but instead of writing, you tell your story through a piece of art that is worn. It doesn’t have to be really complex, sometimes simple ideas and shapes look the best. But make it a really, really good story…and hold it together with sewing or cable ties, not a hot glue gun!


Thanks for a great interview Giselle and Fifi. Fifi has a longish poem in A Treasury Of NZ Poems for Children called ‘The Schoolbag.’ It is a funny poem that tells a story.

The Treasury Interviews: Linus interviews John Malone

John Malone: John is an Adelaide poet, who recently wrote his 100th poem for children in just over 4 years. He is in ‘Friendly Street Poets’ (a volunteer poetry group) and he is a ‘Kiwi’ living in Australia.

I’m Linus Ritchie and I’m 11 years old. I live in Queenstown, New Zealand, and I like to read. I go to Remarkbales Primary School.


The Interview:

Do you prefer to write children or adults poems?    Both.

What hobbies do you have, do they inspire your poetry?  Swimming, walking, reading, cinema, eating with friends, seeing the grandchildren, being in love. All these things inspire me.

Did you always want to be a writer, if not what did you want to be?  I’ve always written. Only in the last 15 years have I wanted to be published.

What are the steps of writing a poem? That’s a hard one. When I feel the lines come into my head I write them down and as I write them down other lines come into my head. It’s all rather magical.

How old were you when you started writing and what inspired you to start poetry?  I wrote my first poem when I was 10. I loved reading poetry. I loved the musicality of language. 

If you have written 100 poems in just over 4 years, how many poems/stories have you written altogether since you started poetry?  No idea. Hundreds of poems, scores of stories. 

What is one of your favourite poems that you wrote?  ‘The Red Pencil Sharpener’ is still one of my fave poems. (This poem is in The Treasury of NZ Poems for Children and I love it too!  —  Paula)

Thanks John and Linus for a great interview!

The Treasury Interviews: Maddie, Benji, Tasman and Ella interview David Hill

Bio of Writing Group

The group is a Year 7 and 8 Extension Literacy class at Remarkables Primary School, consisting of four students: three Year 8 girls (Maddie, Tasman and Ella) and one Year 7 boy (Benji). All are avid readers, devouring a range of literature from classic to contemporary novels. The group are the Southern Kids Lit champions and came ninth at the National Championships earlier in the year ({Paula- Congratulations!). They meet once a week to discuss literature, looking at the thematic nature of books, the motive and nature of characters; and to swap ideas about new authors and quality books they have read (Paula — I am looking forward to meeting you all!).


Bio of David Hill

David Hill (born Napier 1942) currently resides in New Plymouth and is a popular and versatile New Zealand author, who writes juvenile and adult fiction, poetry, plays, textbooks and who makes frequent contributions to radio, newspaper and NZ journals. Graduating from Victoria University with an MA (Honours) in English Literature, David went on to teach English in secondary schools for 14 years, before leaving to write full-time. His books have won numerous awards and he won the much-coveted Margaret Mahy Award in 2005. His books include See Ya Simon, My Brother’s War, Running Hot, No Safe Harbour, Duet, Coming Back and Right Where It Hurts. In his spare time, David likes reading, tramping, astronomy, supporting the All Blacks and playing with his grandkids.


The Interview:

Hello, you remarkable Remarkables,

Thanks for the excellent and thoughtful questions. Here are some confused replies.

You are obviously a very versatile writer, able to produce quality novels, plays, poems and articles. How does your mindset or approach differ, when writing in these different genres?

Not very much, actually. For everything (except poems, possibly), I take heaps of notes, usually scribbled in my untidy handwriting in a notebook that I carry with me almost everywhere. Then I cluster other ideas/incidents/lines around these notes, and something starts to build, very slowly, like a whole lot of cells slowly linking up. Poetry – and I write very few poems – is the only genre in which I try to build the whole thing in my head before I write it down. Everything else, including plays, articles, reviews, are stories in one way or another, and I guess my approach is the same for them all.

If you could have been the writer of any book of all time, what would it be and why?

Very difficult. Animal Farm by George Orwell: one of the saddest, most honest books I know, because it’s the story of a noble, glorious idea gone wrong. The Road, by US writer Cormac McCarthy, a disturbing adult novel of a man and his son crossing America after some terrible holocaust. Very grim, yet full of love and hope. Or almost anything by Maurice Gee.

Which character in your books do you most closely identify with and how/why?

Actually, there are bits of me in most of my main male characters – and bits of my son Pete and my grandsons. Maybe Peter Cotterill in Journey to Tangiwai. He and I both grew up in Napier, went to Scouts, had a paper round. He’s named after my son; and “Cotterill” is a family name. And yes, there was a girl like Barbara Mason whom I was a bit sweet on….

If you could rewrite the ending to any of your books, which would it be and why?

No, none of them, sorry. I like to end my books with the main character starting on a new phase in their life, and I guess I’m happy to leave them like that.

How do you overcome writer’s block? I make sure I keep sitting there for at least 10 minutes. I’ll re-read ALOUD the last few sentences I’ve written. I’ll make the characters talk, or ask questions, or I’ll jump in time and place to a new scene. These don’t necessarily solve things completely, but they help.

 See Ya Simon is an all time favourite of our group. What inspired the story?

One of my daughter Helen’s best friends did die from Duchenne MD when they were in Year 10. His real name was Nick – you might notice the book is dedicated to NJB. Helen is in the book; the pretty little dark-haired Nelita with her terrible jokes is very like my daughter as a teenager. I wanted to write something to acknowledge how brave she was when Nick died. It was meant to be a short story, but it grew into a novel. Nathan has bits of me and my son. Other characters are often based on kids I taught when I was a high-school teacher.

Can you tell us how you go from an initial idea to writing the novel?

As I said above, I take heaps of notes. That includes research. I’m trying to write a novel just now, set in a POW camp for Japanese prisoners in NZ during WW2, and that’s needed lots of research. I also build up character profiles – what they look like, names, favourite sayings /food / music, etc. When I’m ready, I write the first draft in hand-writing for 3 hours a day, stopping EXACTLY after the three hours are finished. When it’s finished, I transfer it to the computer (which means lots of changes), then I revise and revise. I probably go over it about 12 – 15 times. I’m lucky; I’ve got time. Please don’t think that everything I write gets published. I have heaps of rejections.

Hope that helps, folks. Best of luck with your reading and YOUR writing.

David Hill


Thanks for a great interview David and the Remarkables! David has three poems in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. David’s poems often have an infectious sense of humour but sometimes they offer a striking image, such as in ‘Seasons.’

9780143305910 9781742532653 9780143308584 693056 9780143308157

The Treasury Interviews: Arrowtown School extension writing group interviews Wendy Clarke

Extension writing year 7

Extension Writing Group  Year 7 Arrowtown School
Here we are under our favourite tree, with the mountains of the Wakatipu
Basin in the background. The tree is a Pin Oak and we have used it as
motivation for our writing a number of times. We are from left to right,
Dom, Hamish, Lukas, Paddy, Sarah, Georgie, Greta and Lily. (Absent is Ben.)
We are all twelve years old and we love to write, we especially love to
write poetry. On National Poetry Day we tied our poems to the branches of
the oak tree. It was a ‘Poetree.’

Wendy Clarke bio


My name is Wendy Clarke and I live in the little gold town of Arrowtown. I do lots of other things other than write. I am a school teacher at Arrowtown School. Fortunately I get to teach writing to a gifted and talented class of year 7 and 8 students. These are the students who have a passion for writing, how lucky am I? I am also a historical educator at the Lakes District Museum (in Arrowtown.) I particularly enjoy this because the history of Arrowtown is so interesting and I get to show kids around our town and tell them stories about the gold rush. I also give historical tours to American tour groups. They often want to hear more about my life in Arrowtown rather than the history.

I guess you want to know how I became a writer. When I was a child I loved to read and read and read!! I lived in the country but my mother took me to the library every Saturday so I always had lots of books to read. I am still a very keen reader, but I can’t read all day and all night the way I used to. (I had a torch to help me read under the bed covers.)

I began to notice things about the books I read, that is, which books I thought had been well written. I wrote my first poem when I was 11. My teacher thought it was very good and awarded me a prize, so I began to read poetry too. Poems back then all rhymed, I didn’t find out that poems didn’t need to rhyme until I was at high school.

There is now a big gap when I didn’t write at all. I went to Teachers College, became a teacher, went overseas for three years, came back and became a teacher again, had two children, but kept teaching. I was very busy. But a little voice in my head kept saying ‘something is missing.’ Of course it was writing. I decided to study writing at Massey University, I did this for six years until I had completed my degree. Suddenly I was doing lots of writing.

Since then I have had poems published, won a short story competition and have written a whole lot of books that help teachers to teach writing well. I would really like to publish more poems and I would love to publish a children’s book.

I thought that I might finish with a little check list that might help you become a writer.

How to become a writer.

  • Read all sorts of books. Don’t stick to just one type.
  • Find friends who like to write.
  • Carry a notebook to write down good ideas or put it by your bed, you have good ideas at night.
  • Tell people you want to be a writer, they might help you.
  • Listen carefully to the way people speak, it helps you when you are trying to write dialogue.
  • Be interested in words, I love looking up words in the dictionary or reading famous quotations.
  • Read and follow writing blogs, there are lots of people like you out there.
  • And remember, write, write, write and keep it, never throw ideas away or cross them out.
  • And don’t forget to show your writing to people or to enter competitions.


Good luck.


The Interview:

What inspires you?

I often have ideas rattling around in my head for ages. The idea may have been inspired by a conversation, an observation or even a news item. I live in Arrowtown, which is an old gold mining town, so historical incidents often give me ideas. I enjoy imagining characters and getting to know them in my head, even having imaginary conversations with them.

What genre do you prefer?

I love to write poetry, followed by short stories. I think that I am an observant person, and poetry is often about details and framing those details within interesting words, so it is perfect for someone like me.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I live in a very beautiful place, so sometimes I take inspiration from my surroundings. I am a big reader so good writing excites me and makes me want to write well too.

How do you fit writing into your life?

This is difficult. I can see why some writers lead very solitary lives. It is so difficult to find some quiet time. I need to be able to write without interruptions. I have a job and a family so my life is far from quiet. I find that going walking by myself is a very good time to think. I live near a lake so this is a good place to go and think.

Where do you write your ideas down?

I usually carry around a little notebook in my bag, I might slip little things inside this book or write down ideas in it. Strangely I like writing in red pen, I have no idea why.

Would you like to write a book?

I would love to write a book, but I don’t think I am ready to do that yet. It is a big time commitment, time that I don’t really have. One day I hope to.

How old were you when you were first published?

I was in my early forties, I started writing quite late in life, I wish that I had started sooner, but university study, travel and children kept me pretty busy.

How did you feel when you were first published?

Oh boy it was great. I won a short story competition, I won $500 which was a large amount of money to me. My story was published in a newspaper. Recently someone told me that they had cut the story out and still had it even though it was over ten years ago. I spent the money on an amazing pair of black boots!!

What is your favourite piece of writing?

I am very proud of some of my adult poems, a tremendous amount of work went into them. I wrote most of them when I was doing university study. I am very delighted to have a poem in the A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, especially as the treasury has some wonderful New Zealand poets contributing to it.

Who published your work?

I have had work published in the School Journals but most of my writing is for an educational publishing company called Essential Resources. I have written a series called We Love Poetry and another series called Make Poetry Come Alive. These books are to help teachers teach poetry in an interesting way. Essential Resources sell my books all over the world, which feels very cool.

Which writers do you admire?

Gosh there are so many to choose from, but my favourite, favourite author is Margaret Mahy. I met her once and she signed a book for me. It is still one of my favourite possessions.



What a wonderful interview Wendy and the Extension Writing Group. Some great tips for writing too. Thank you!

5580s 5405s   Wendy’s Essential Resources page





The Treasury Interviews: Jasmine interviews Pauline Cartwright


Pauline Cartwright lives in Alexandra, Central Otago in New Zealand. Scholastic has published her books and poems for children. She loves to come and see Intermediate students to talk about writing.

About Me: My name is Jasmine. I’m a Year 5, nine-year-old girl that goes to Remarkables Primary School. I love to read books.


The Interview

Are any of your books in a National library and if they are which are most popular?
I’m sure I do have books in the National Library but I can’t list them all. I will list a few that I know you would be likely to enjoy.
GOLD!     Also published as FINDING MY FATHER

Do you have any new books?
I haven’t any new books out in the shops lately but you might come across some in your classroom eg AWESOME ANIMAL ADVENTURE! which is about very large creatures – dinosaurs to blue whales. And I have put a few titles online with Amazon Kindle. One of them I AM SOMEONE ELSE is my newest story but it is for older teenagers. You might need to wait a few years before you would find it enjoyable.

What schools have you been to to share your writing?
Over a lot of years I have been to many schools in the North and South Island (and one or two in Australia). There have been times when I have spoken to so many classes in one day that I have started to forget whether it was this class that I said that to, or whether it was the class I had just left! Sometimes I have just talked about writing and shared my stories and poems. Sometimes I have taken workshops. Sometimes I have been entertained by the children I have visited and that is a very nice thing to have happen. I have met a lot of wonderful children and wonderful teachers.

What books have you written in the past year?
In the last year I have written only articles and no books at all.

Do you speak to all years about your writing?
Yes I do speak about writing to children of all ages – and sometimes to adults.

What is your favourite book you have written?
I have written a lot of books. If I count every one, including all the small books that help children learn to become readers, I have written over 300. (I feel quite surprised by that!!) I don’t have a favourite from that list. A new story in my head always feels exciting and important and so my favourite is always the one I am writing!


Thanks for a great interview Jasmine and Pauline. Pauline has three poems in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children including an old favourite of mine, ‘The Same Old Mum.’ I have seen children write versions of this which are really cool. They have sent them to me at Poetry Box.

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Hot Spot Poetry Event in Dunedin

Otago University Bookshop has a very lovely children’s space. A perfect place to share poetry. It was great to hear Adam read his poem in the treasury plus he picked Rachel McAlpine’s poem about computers that don’t scoot and Greg O’Connell’s poem about what you feed a dragon (or dinosaur). A few local children read cool poems which was a bonus. I haven’t tried reading David Eggleton’s bats poem myself out loud, but now I have heard him do such a good job, I want to give it a go. He also read another favourite poem of mine in the book, Baxter’s whale poem. Add the delicious poems of Sue Wootton in the mix and Elizabeth Pulford’s beautiful poem sonata …. and you get one lovely occasion.

I know I picked the poems for the Treasury, but I keep discovering new faves and I still haven’t shared all the Letterbox poems yet.

Thanks Dunedin. I loved my few days with you.