Monthly Archives: November 2014

Poetry at Te Papa



Daniel read with me at Te Papa as part of my Hot Spot Poetry Tour. He was nervous before he started, but he was really, really glad he did, at the end. He read very well indeed. He sent this new poem in for my highlight-of-the-year challenge but I wanted to post it now because I think it is tremendous. It was a great occasion. And Daniel catches it beautifully.


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thank you New Zealand Book Council for such lovely words

The New Zealand Book Council have done a very lovely piece on me and my blogs and my new books and have included Gemma‘s fabulous word-biscuit poem. I felt utterly chuffed to read all the good things they said about Poetry Box.

Poetry Box, remember, is nothing without    y    o    u !

Here is the link.

Final Treasury Challenge Favourites: Using titles from The Treasury to make tremendous new poems


I had such fun reading all the poems that took a Treasury title as their starting point. Many of you know I collected titles for my next collection at all my events and school visits on my tour so I can’t wait to start writing those  .. but it won’t be until next year. Lots of writing projects for next year which I am very excited about.

I loved the way your poems took the title and then went off in all directions. Just what poems and poets like to do! Some played with how they looked and all sounded good! Lots of sizzling imagination too!

I LOVED all the poems you sent me, but I couldn’t post them all.  If you missed out this time do try again. I have picked Noah from Adventure School to send a copy of A Treasury of NZ Poems. Noah was inspired by Margaret Mahy’s poem, ‘The Dictionary Bird.’  His poem is full of delicious sounds and scrumptious words just as her poem is.  Congratulations to all the young poets.

Inspired by Harry Ricketts:

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Inspired by Greg O’Connell:

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Inspired by Stephanie Mayne:

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By Ollie, Year 6 aged 11, Gladstone Primary School, Auckland

Inspired by Bill Nagelkerke:

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Inspired by Pauline Cartwright:


Sloppy curly spaghetti

Very good for lunch

Yummy slurpy spaghetti

My brother goes munch

Toasty cheesy spaghetti

I love it in my tum

Messy messy spaghetti

Tum tum spaghetti yum yum

Ruby T age 6, Year 2, Ilam School


Slippy spaghetti slides down my chin

Slimy spaghetti makes me grin

By Gemma and Daniel, Adventure School

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Russley School sent in a bunch of terrific poems. Here are a few of my favourites:

Inspired by Roger Hall:

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Inspired by Joy Cowley:

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Inspired by Greg O’Connell:

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Inspired by James K Baxter:

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One Breath Poems (inspired by Greg O’Connell – to be recited in one breath!):

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I also received a tremendous bunch of poems from Room 8 at Adventure School. Again it was very hard to pick just a few to post.

Inspired by Pauline Cartwright:

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Inspired by Bill Nagelkerke:

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Inspired by Peter Bland:

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Inspired by Stephanie Mayne:

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Inspired by Paula Green:

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Inspired by Margaret Mahy:

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Inspired by Greg O’Connell:

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Inspired by David Hill:

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The Day No One Was Angry is very good indeed: So good I am giving you an extra challenge!


I posted this a few months back way before the book was out but now that it IS out you have a chance to do the challenge.

The Day No One Was Angry is written by Toon Tellegen and has gorgeous illustrations by Marc Boutavant. Toon is from The Netherlands, and like Glen Colquhoun, was a doctor before he began to write books. He is a well loved children’s author in his home country. Marc lives in Paris and has illustrated lots of children’s books.

The book is made up of twelve short chapters that feature animals and different kinds of anger. It reminds me of reading Joy Cowley’s Just One More and Kyle Mewburn’s Melu. There is folk-tale-ish-ness about the tales. I love the way you see an emotion in so many different ways. Sometimes you laugh and sometimes you frown. Stories can be like poetry and poetry can be like stories.There is a hyrax, and elephant, a lobster, a hedgehog, a toad, a cricket, a squirrel an aardvark and many more.


Try writing a poem about an animal or two that have to cope with something that makes them angry. Your story might make the reader laugh or sad or think. Just like in this book.

How will it end? Test out three endings and then pick your favourite.

Thanks to Gecko Press I have a copy of the book for one young poet.

If you have already sent a poem for this, send it again!


DEADLINE for your Animal-Anger Poem Challenge: WEDNESDAY December 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 Animal-Anger Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a copy of the book for a poet thanks to Gecko Press (Year 0 to Year 8).

Teddy One-Eye: Gavin Bishop’s autobiography of a teddy bear is such a treat

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Teddy One-Eye: The autobiography of a teddy bear by Gavin Bishop, Random House, 2014

Gavin Bishop is one of our most beloved authors and illustrators and he has a new book out. It feels like a brother or sister to his fabulous memoir Piano Rock. I met a number of teachers on my tour who have used Piano Rock a lot with their classes. I can see why.

Like Piano Rock, the new book is gorgeously produced by Random House (it is hard cover) and has equally beautiful illustrations. Illustrations that belong in the time of the teddy (the 1950s)!

The book is an autobiography of a teddy, but it is also an autobiography of a boy (partly Gavin) as well as being a time machine as you get to go back to another time. I loved that! Boy gets to read Janet and John books (just like I got to read Janet and John when I was little). He gets to go the diary with his pocket money when he was 6. He loves doing spelling (just like I did!). He gets to eat homemade (not shop bought!!!!) Louise cake, beetroot chutney (well it got made in the kitchen even if he didn’t eat it himself), and roast mutton.

You even get bits of history in this back-in-time travel. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing reach Mt Everest’s peak and Yvette William’s is New Zealand’s first woman to get an Olympic medal. There is even teddy-bear history to be discovered too! 2002 was marked as the 100th anniversary of the first teddy bear made.

Teddy One-eye is special because there is a special story story about him (this may or may not be true!). I love the way the Grandmother reminds everyone that Teddy One-eye is special and he needs to be looked after well. The teddy certainly knows what is going on in the world around him and he gets to be very good at reading. Boy loves him, then little baby brother loves him —  but he gets to spend days or years or months in all kinds of surprising places (the pot cupboard, a plastic bag).

Reading this book means you get to do all kinds of wonderful things: fall in love with a raggety (at times) teddy bear, go on adventures and go back in time. I loved the way this book made me think about my own toys and my own childhood and what I loved to do and what was important. It has scary bits, funny bits and even slightly sad bits.

Bravo Gavin Bishop! This book is a treasure trove. I loved it very much indeed.

Under the Ocean: Explore and discover New Zealand’s sea life: terrific book for fact finders

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Under the Ocean: Explore and discover New Zealand’s sea life Gillian Candler with illustrations by Ned Barraud Craig Potton Publishing

Ned: ‘Ned is a talented illustrator with a passion for sea creatures. His work has been published frequently in the School Journal, and he illustrated Moonman (Nov 2014). He works at Weta Digital as a texture artist and lives in Wellington, spending lots of time exploring the seashore with his three young children.’

Gillian: ‘Gillian was a secondary-school teacher before moving into educational publishing with Learning Media in Wellington, where she worked on a wide range of publications for children, including books about science and the environment. She currently works as a writer and an educational publishing consultant from her home in Pukerua Bay. Gillian is passionate about understanding and appreciating New Zealand’s wild places, however close to home they might be.’


For fans of the sea, this is a great book to discover things about our oceans from rays and sharks to tubeworms and sea cucumbers.

Like all good nonfiction books, it has lots of very interesting facts. Here are some of my favourites:

‘Common dolphins work together to herd fish so that is easier to catch them.’

‘Sea cucumbers find food in the mud on the sea floor.’

‘Blue cod can rest on the sea floor by standing on their fins.’

‘Whales need to come up to the surface to breathe, but unlike humans they can choose when to breathe.’

The book also has tips on what we can do. How we can behave near sea creatures. How we can care for the sea environment.


Ned’s illustrations for the book are exquisite. The coral and seals and seahorses come to life on the page so beautifully.

I recommend this book highly for classrooms and any children who love discovering facts about things. Wonderful!


Ned and Gillian have also written these books:

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Visiting Seba’s class at Richmond Road School

Some of Seba Dilaimi’s class performed two poems at my event at the National Library but she missed seeing them as she was sick. So I popped into her class to meet her, read a few poems, answer some questions and check out the ones they had written. (we wrote a cool bird poem too!)

Inspired by my picture poems (shape poems or concrete poetry) in The Letter Box the class had done a whole batch of their own and they were magnificent! Just magnificent!

I am posting them here for you to see because you might be inspired to try some too. I loved them all. Looking at them and reading them made me want to get cracking and do some more of my own.

Thanks … I really loved visiting your class. Happy poetry days!

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