Monthly Archives: December 2014

A holiday treasure: The New Zealand Art Activity Book from Te Papa— this is so cool!

The.NZ.Activiy.Book.float     The.NZ.Activiy.Book.float

The New Zealand Art Activity Book: 100+ Ideas for Creative Children from Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

I would so have loved this book when I was young. If you are interested in drawing and art and are aged 5 upwards then this is the book for you. Helen Lloyd designed lots of art activities that are so so cool.

And then some fabulous NZ artists designed some for you too including Sarah Hughes and John Pule.

The book invites you to switch on your imagination, get some coloured pencils, scissors and glue and start filling in the pages. The possibilities are endless. I want to try!


Here are some of my favourite pages:

Cut out the parts to make crazy animals.

Tape two pencils together to do a spaghetti wiggle on the page.

Think up a name for a colour then make that colour.

Hide some words inside a picture.

Make a fast drawing in less than 10 seconds.


This book was first published in 2013, but if you don’t have a copy and you love art, you will love this. it gets you thinking and seeing and making and drawing art sideways and circleways and flipways and crawling ways and skipways.


I       a  d o r e        this    AcTiViTy    b     o     o     k    ! *************************+

Moonman by Ned Barraud — I love every bit and bite of this book

Moonman   Moonman

Moonman, Ned Barraud, Craig Potton Publishing

Ned Barraud is one of those talented people who can tell a story (author) and create pictures (illustrator). He has illustrated lots of books, including the fabulous natural-history series that I flagged on the blog (Under the Ocean is the latest one). And he works as a texture artist for Weta Workshop! I have no idea what that is but it sounds fun.

Craig Potton Publishing is producing some gorgeous picture books for children and this is no exception. This book has lovely paper, a lovely look and a lovely feel to it. This matters in poetry books and picture books.

I love the story. Moonman is the caretaker of the moon. All is good. All is normal.  But one day he catches a ride on a shooting star to a mysterious, blue planet. Then all is strange. All is definitely not normal. Something does not suit him very well at all. I love the way the story unfolds and reaches its end (I am not letting the cat out of the bag on that!).

It is like a story in the age-old tradition of stories (like fables) that has a message. Beware of the grass-is-greener pull. Or ….  travel is wonderful and surprising, new places are wonderful and surprising, but home is home!

I love the sentences: ‘Under twinkling stars he takes his broom and sweeps the moon until its clean and gleaming.’ That’s poetry — simple and clean.

I love the moody blue illustrations that fit the story perfectly. Atmospheric. They make you want to pick up a pen and draw.

Yes, I love every bit and bite of this book, so even though I was tempted to give it away, I am keeping this one to read again!

Barbara Else’s The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania …. magnificent marvellous magical mesmerising

The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania Barbara Else, Gecko Press

I loved the first two books in this series very much indeed (The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy). Both books show a dynamo imagination at work and an ear that knows how to make a good sentence. These novels sing as you read, but more importantly they take you into a world that catches hold of you on every stoney path and in every mysterious corner.

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Barbara’s new book serves music and magic in equal measure. The detail is magnificent. The sentences marvellous. The characters magical. The story mesmerising. Ahh!!

In this story, we meet the only child in Owl Town: twelve-year-old Dorrity. It doesn’t take long to realise there is something special about her, something mysterious. I love her boldness. Her cunning. The way she pays attention to things. Little things. Big things.  Dorrity tumbles headlong into a gritty adventure that hurtles her away from the peace and quiet and routines of Owl Town.

I love Dorrity as a character, but I especially love the extra strange Metalboy. As soon as I met the beginnings of him in the first pages I was hooked. He may be made of metal (at first), but he is a character you really care about. It matters what happens to him. And things do happen to him!

I love the way you can’t see everything in easy-peasy black and white. Good and bad stick to some characters like tufts of hair.

Oh and I love Owl Town. I like the way the people band together and make especially good plans and look out for the town’s only girl.

In this list of loves, I also need to mention the book Dorrity discovers that is all to do with  her — and that has five different endings for her that are very puzzling!

This book comes with a TIPTOP recommendation from me and is one of my favourite reads of the year.

St Kentigern’s peform ‘The Pumperknickle Pirate’

A group of girls from St Kentigern’s School for Girls performed two poems at the Hot Spot Poetry Tour event in Auckland. Thy picked two poems that are are quite challenging to say and performed them as a chorus. There was lots of great feedback. I loved it!

Judy Norton, the Speech and Drama teacher, has sent me a link to one of the poems the girls  performed back at school. You get to see Sarah Aileen’s ‘The Pumperknickle Pirate’ in action and its glorious feast of made-up words.

You can watch the performance here.

Animal angry poems


After reading the very, very, very, very, very, very fabulous The Day No One Was Angry by Toon Telleegen, I decided to post a challenge to write an angry animal poem. These are my favourites.

Gecko Press published the book and very kindly donated a copy to give away. Thanks Gecko Press. I love all of these but I have picked Ewen to send the book. I love both the story in her poem and the way her poem sounds. Glorious! I loved the message (moral) in Gemma‘s tale and all her good detail. And I just loved the zinging words in the poems by Lachie and Isabel. Well done young poets.

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In a Busy Forest

In a busy forest

lived a tiger,

who ruled

the entire place.

Scaring everyone,

roaring and growling,

until one sunny day.

As the tiger strolled

across the land,

a hippo

who was rolling

in a pool of mud

suddenly had

an idea.

Whispering to everyone,

muttering and chuckling,

together all of the

animals devised

a plan.

When the tiger passed

slowly but swiftly,

around the pool

of mud,

all of the animals


In fear

the tiger







the mud.

Furious for the rest

of his life,

never roaring,

never growling,

never scaring anyone.

The tiger,

no longer the ruler

of the busy forest.

Ewen W aged 12, Room 20, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Lessons from A Little Bird

Stones were thrown in the air

By someone who didn’t really care

A little bird was injured

Fell out of the sky, ignored by the stone thrower

He later got discovered

By a kind and caring woman

She nursed him

Until he could fly free again

He repayed her kindness

By dropping magic seeds

The seeds grew magic pumpkins,

Filled with delicious treats

He repayed the stone thrower too

By dropping magic seeds

But these seeds grew not treats

But spiders, ants and termites

The insects drove the stone thrower from her home

And forced her to change her ways

Because kindness inspires kindness

While cruelty never pays.

By Gemma L, aged 8, Year 4, Adventure School, Wellington

Poems that sound good


What a lot of magnificent poems that sound good. It was hard to pick a few to post from such a great response, but here are a few of my favourites.

Thanks to the lovely Lovewell family I am sending Lily a copy of Ted Hughes: Poems for Children. It is a CD! I was going to have a sneak listen before I sent it off but I will get a copy for myself to play in the car. I love the way Lily’s poem is so simple but sounds so good. Scrumptious poem.

Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat

I am also sending a copy of my book, The Letterbox Cat, to Penelope as I love the nifty sounds in her list poem. She has really used her ear to go hunting for words. Gemma‘s poem is fun to sing out loud, Jack‘s poem is a tremendous symphony of sounds, Daniel‘s poem not only sounds good but has a delicious idea about poetry and the writing group at Adventure School came up with some awesome alliteration.


Wind is little dots that circle the Earth.

At first the dots are hot.

When they come back

from circling the Earth

they get colder and

that’s what makes Wind.

So when it’s windy

tie your hair up if it’s long

so it won’t get in your face.

The dots get cold

because the Arctic is cold.

It makes the leaves rustle

on the branches.

There are lots of sorts of wind.

The strongest wind of them all is a hurricane.

A hurricane can damage

nearly everything

in its path.

Lily M, 5 years old, Paekakariki School

Poetry is Like Lego

Poetry is like Lego

You take little pieces

Just ordinary on their own

You build them together

Up, down, across

To turn something plain

Into something fantastical

If you muddle the pieces

You can make something totally new

That belongs to only you

By Daniel L, Year 1, age 5, Adventure School

In my sister’s case…

I was on holiday and in my sister’s case there was

a blood thirsty vampire and the roman empire

rainbow wings and a kea with shiny things

a poisonous green snake and a blood red lake

brown sea kelp and a monster screaming help!

a grass green cat and an orange table mat

popcorn than can pop and a white walled shop

a hand knitted sock and a band that can rock

a really fast car and a full fruit jar

a bear in a cave and a hot, thirsty slave

a child getting the cane and wet pouring rain

a really fast plane and awful, terrible pain

and that was that! ”

Penelope C, Year 4, Arrowtown Primary


This poem sounds like wind howling,

Like water gushing,

Like dogs growling,

Like waves gushing

This poem sounds like sand sticking

Like ice cream licking

Like hot chip dipping

Like drops dripping

This poem sounds like feet tracking

Like castles crumbling

Like toddlers squealing

Like surfers skimming


It’s the Sumner Summer Symphony!

Jack P, Fendalton Open Air School, age 10, Year 6

I Hear A Morepork

(to the tune of under the boardwalk)

Oh, when the sun goes down and goes to hide behind the hill
And you need a warm coat – if you don’t have one on you’ll catch a chill
I hear a morepork, up in the tree, yeah
And I know he is hiding somewhere I can’t see

I hear a morepork – Up in the tree

I hear a morepork – He is looking at me

I hear a morepork – I think he’s glad to be free

I hear a morepork – Make that definitely

I hear a morepork – Morepork!
From the garden you hear the sound of fantails flitting round
You can almost touch the tuis wings as they swoop down
I hear a morepork, up in the tree, yeah
And I know he is hiding somewhere I can’t see

I hear a morepork – Up in the tree

I hear a morepork – He is looking at me

I hear a morepork – I think he’s glad to be free

I hear a morepork – Make that definitely

I hear a morepork – Morepork!
By Gemma L Age 8, year 4 Room 8 Adventure School

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By Matthias, Jorja, Noah, Tianyi, Tiora, Elen, Angus and Luci. Room 8 Adventure School, Whitby, Porirua.


Favourite authors

I invited you to send in your favourite authors.

These three young writers did just that. Thank you so much. I enjoyed reading all of these and couldn’t decide which one to send a book to so I put all the names in the hat and pulled out Gemma.

200px-Basil_E_Frankweiler   200px-Basil_E_Frankweiler


I am sending Gemma  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by e. l. kronigsbug. I love this book. It was published forty years ago, so it is a classic. A girl runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it makes it all the more special to me as I have been there. It is part adventure and part mystery and a whole lot more!



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I love Roald Dahl because he writes about crazy imaginary things. He plays with words like “am I right or am I left” in the BFG and “you have the Wong number” in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. I like the funny words he makes up like scrumdiddlyumptious and fantabulous and frobscottle. And I like it how grown ups get in a tangle when they try to say the crazy words that are easy for kids to say!

By Daniel  Age 6, Year 1  Room 1  Adventure School



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My favourite author is Joy Cowley. She writes interesting books about all kinds of things, and she can write any kind of book: picture books, readers, non fiction, chapter books and poems. She makes her characters interesting and they do and say funny things. The NZ setting makes her stories extra special. I like that you can read fun books like Mrs Wishy-Washy when you are learning to read and then as you get older you can read her early chapter books like the Wild West Gang, right up to older fiction like Speed of Light. Joy Cowley helps grow the reader inside you. She helps young NZ writers. She visits places and meets her fans. She shows you that stories are more than just words on a page. Joy Cowley is one of the reasons I love books, reading, and writing so much.

By Gemma  Age 8, year 4 Room 8 Adventure School



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One of my favourite authors is Derek Landy because he creates really catchy, punchy and humorous dialogue. He also adds a wide range of words, action and reality to his novels. But most uniquely, he appreciates and shows no remorse in killing or seriously harming his characters- the Skulduggery Pleasant series is a MUST-READ!

Ewen W aged 12, Room 20, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch