Monthly Archives: March 2015

An Ode to Cricket at Kings School and a couple of Storms!

photo 1

Last week I visited Y5 and 6 students at Kings School. I especially loved the way the very lovely librarian made a display of my books and a poem with my name running down the middle –an inventive form of an acrostic poem. How creative! What a warm welcome!

In our session we played with lines, I read poems and we made up poems together.

The exciting cricket semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa had been on the night before so we finished up by hunting for lines that might go in ‘An Ode to Cricket.’ This is what we came up with. I thought it would be fun to play with the lines and do a second draft which I have posted after our first draft.

photo 2


Ode to Cricket

Pitching the hard ball

the bat swings

the bat whips the ball

the bat sweeps the ball

explodes blasts flashes

the ball out of the park,


lifting over

cries and cheers from the crowd,

ear-splitting screeches.

The bowler sweats with pressure

pitching the ball hard.



After that I did three workshops on the sorts of things I do when I am building up to a poem. We hunted for words and we hunted for lines. I heard some terrific lines from each of the groups. One class used this starting point to come up with their completed storm poems. Their teacher sent me two of her favourites. I really loved the way the students rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into writing poems with imaginations searching and vocabularies soaring. It was a great visit! Thank you.


The Storm
Thrashing rain

Devastating crashes

Wind whipping trees

Dogs howling for mercy

Thunder smashes lightning

Crackles endlessly

Triumphant trees stripped

Through the rages the sun still shines

By Denis Y5



The rain is gushing away

Old newspapers rustling in the sky

No cars to be seen

Leaves running into the sunset

The wind fading up to the gods

By Matthew Y5



Poetry Bonanza Monday; a little pack of popping poetry news and surprises for you



This is the last week of Term One!  Happy holidays dear poetry fans!

1. Last night the NZ cricket team showed they can be gracious winners and gracious losers. For me good cricket can be like poetry which ever side is shining!

2. Yesterday I went to the Storylines Award Ceremony where new writers won awards that will see their very first book published. Exciting!

Storylines also announced the Notable Book Awards for 2014. I was very delighted that The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems and A Treasury of NZ Poems For Children were picked. I got to read three poems there. I read one by me, one by my hero Margaret Mahy and Caleb‘s fabulous poem ‘The Poet’ (he was from Russley School in Christchurch).  Storylines work hard for children and children’s books all year!

Poetry doesn’t know where its home is! Sometimes it is non fiction and sometimes it is junior fiction! I always think it is fiction as so much of poetry is invented but sometimes it records the world and then I think it is non fiction …. so I guess it belongs in both places.


3. This week I am going to post my favourite odes on Thursday.


4. This week  I am also going to post a surprise pack of poems I got from Russley School that I just LOVE!

5. And I will tell you about my fabulous visit to another school.

6. In the first week of term Three I will announce the details of The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition!


7. I have started work on my next collection of poems for children … using the titles you gave me on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour. It is such fun.  It will take me at least a year to write these poems.

8. You still have time to send me an Ode to Cricket!

9. During the holidays you can write me a letter in the form of a poem and tell me something wonderful you saw. Details below.

10. Interview challenge: I am on the hunt for children and classes to interview NZ writers again this year. If you want  to do this you need to tell me the name of the author and why you want to interview them. You need to tell me your name, school, age, year and name of teacher and if you are a whole class. I will pick my favourites and see if I can get the author to do the interview  with you. I will post this challenge again at the beginning of Term 2. If I pick you, I will give your more details. I will have a prize pack of books for my favourite interview.




Ode to Cricket challenge

I visited Kings School last week and in my session with all the Y5 and 6 students we wrote an ode to cricket. It was the morning after NZ’s World-Cup semi final so we were all a wee bit tired having stayed up late. I will do a post on my visit this coming week.

Meanwhile to celebrate all the fabulous cricket we have witnessed in New Zealand and Australia over the past months, I challenge you to write an ode to cricket. I am going to have a go too.

An ode is a way of singing the praises of something.

Find great detail.

Use real detail.

Use good cricket words.

Hunt for excellent verbs.

Listen to every line.

DEADLINE for your Cricket-Poem Challenge: Tuesday 31st March

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 Cricket-Poem challenge.

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

Using your ears: some of my favourite poems

Letterbox Cat

There was a slight mix-up with ‘storm‘ being a topic for two weeks in a row. But they were two different challenges! Thanks for sending in all the poems. I loved reading them.

With this challenge I asked you to use your ears. To listen to what you wrote as you wrote and after you had written it.

It was very easy for me to pick these two favourites as they sing in my ear so beautifully. They sound so very, very good. I love the way the words pop on the lines, the different lengths of lines (poems can have same length lies too!), the way the lines flow. Test them out for yourself!

Because they sound so good they make strong moods in the poems too.

I am sending both young poets a copy of my book The Letterbox Cat. Congratulations!


I Know It’s Raining

Just me and him,
Behind the sofa,
Next to the fire.

He’s purring,
His soft, grey fur is vibrating on my lap,
But I can’t hear him.
Because it’s raining.

I know it’s raining.
The fat drops were endlessly throwing themselves before carelessly splashing the wet window.

He stares out the window, glad to be inside.
It’s dark outside but we can hear it.
Like thunder,
You can just hear the wind,
Howling like an unloved dog.

Torrential rain,
The fire,
And us,
From the storm, that we know is there.

by Beth M, aged 7, Ramarama School



The Storm

Dark, gloomy, cold.

A place of sadness,

A place of wildness,

No life remains.


The sun is hidden

Behind thick rain clouds in the sky.

The world is grey and dull.

The sea washes onto the beach,

The sand disappears under piles of trash.

The once busy pier

Is deserted and crumbling into the sea.


By Maya W Age 7 St Andrews College, Christchurch




When Dad Showed Me the Universe — I lovelovelove this new picture book from Gecko Press


9781927271827  9781927271827  9781927271827   9781927271827

When Dad Showed Me the Universe by Ulf Stark, illustrated by Eva Eriksson,  Gecko Press, 2015

First of all I fell in love with title of this book, then I fell in love with the illustrations, then I fell in love with the story. This book is the complete package. It gave me goose bumps as I read it.

A title like this could take you anywhere!


This is how the book starts:

One day Dad said he thought I was old enough for him to show me the universe.

“Where is it?” I asked.


I want you to hunt down the book and read it for yourself because I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of reading it by telling you how the story unfolds. But sometimes you discover things in surprising places. Sometimes the way there is just as important as the destination.


Ulf Stark is Swedish. He has written many books and won many awards.

Eva Eriksson is also Swedish. She is one of Sweden’s most treasured illustrators and has illustrated a number of books published by Gecko Press.


Now  …..

Imagine putting warm clothes on and walking off with your Mum or Dad to discover something marvellous for the very first time. At the weekend I watched a video clip of a little girl watching a train for the very first time. The awe and gasps on her face were breathtaking.

In a way this book shows us the universe for the very first time, in a new and wonderful light.

That is also what poetry can do. This week you are doing Odes to Things (ordinary things like shoes or toasters or apple trees). So in a way your poem is showing us something in a new light, as if we are seeing it for the first time. As if we were from another country or another planet or another universe.


A mini poetry challenge:

Try writing a poem called When Dad Showed Me the Universe or When Mum Showed Me the Universe 

Real detail will help, little surprises will help!


DEADLINE for your Universe-Poem Challenge: Wednesday April 1st

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 Universe-Poem challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

I will post my favourites and have a book  for a poet (Year 0 to Year 8).





Woohoo! LIANZA Children’s Book Award finalists announced — They include The Letterbox Cat!

Letterbox Cat    Letterbox Cat

I  am so chuffed my poetry book for children,  The Letterbox Cat, has been shorted listed for these awards. That is just lovely! I have no expectation to win the category but I am delighted to see a VERYfavourite book of mine there: Barbara Else’s The Volume of Possible Endings. In fact I just posted a young poet a copy of that this week for last week’s challenge! That is how much I LOVE this book!

9781877579233   9781877579233   9781877579233

I have been a NZ Book Award judge so I know how it is choosing a short list so I was also pleased to see two ultraSTARultra favourite books of mine on the long list. I have sung their prasies highly on Poetry Box: Mary McCallum’s  Dappled Annie and the Tigrish and Melinda Szymanik’s The Song of the Kauri.

Thank you so much LIANZA for picking a poetry book as they so rarely make these kinds of shortlists. This is an honour for me indeed.

I will do now do a little dance for poetry joy! Woohoo. Woohoo.

Go here to see all the other finalists in the other categories.


Esther Glen Junior Fiction Finalists

  • Monkey Boy by Donovan Bixley – Scholastic

  • The Volume of Possible Endings (A Tale of Fontania) by Barbara Else – Gecko

  • Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand by Leonie Agnew – Penguin

  • Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent – Scholastic

  • Letterbox Cat by Paula Green – Scholastic

Poetry Bonanza Monday: Some tips, a challenge and poems about t h i n g s

I really love reading and writing poems about things.

Sometimes poets write poems that sing the praises of things.

They are sometimes called odes.


You might find a poem called Ode to a Couch

or Ode to a Toaster    or Ode to my Shoes.


This week the challenge is to write an ode to      a    t h i n g.


Here are some tips on writing an ode:

Go on the hunt for real detail (words) that makes the thing come alive in the poem.

Show what it looks like, what it does, where it is. You don’t have to do all of it!

Show what is special about it. Funny? Sad? Strange? Fascinating?

Maybe you might show a bit of its history.

Who loves to use it?


In the past there were rules about the form but nowadays the ode can take any shape you like. You can use verses or not use verses. You can use long lines or short lines or a mix.

It doesn’t have to rhyme.

There will be clues as to what the poet thinks of the thing.


DEADLINE for your Ode-Poem Challenge: Wednesday April 1st

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 Ode-Poem challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

I will post my favourites and have a book  for a poet  (Year 1 to Year 8).






Playing with lines; my favourite poems

What a lot of storm poems I got and how I loved seeing how you played with lines. I could tell some of you had read my tips and tried lots of different things.

Thank you for sending them in! Congratulations if I picked your poem. If I didn’t, remember there are lots more challenges to try each week.

Remember,         I post challenges for you not competitions — as a writer the most important thing for me is how I challenge myself, how I enjoy myself, how I discover things when I write.



I love the way you have played with the length of the lines.

I love the way you have thought about the word on the end of the line.

I love the way you have explored how one line shifts onto the next line.


5   5   5


All these poets deserve  a book from me (and many I didn’t post!). Thanks to a very special poetry family in Wellington, The Lovewells, I have decided to send a copy of a book they donated to Poetry Box, Follow the Swallow by Julia Donaldson … to Vesper at Ilam School.  I love the way all the animals in Julia’s story help send a message to Africa. Thank you Lovewells ! I love the sound of the lines in Vesper’s poem.

9781877579233   9781877579233   9781877579233


I am also sending a copy of Barbara Else’s terrific The Queen and the Nobody Boy to Kate at Selwyn House School. Kate’s poem had such a strong image and mood and that was helped by the way she crafted her lines.


The eye of the storm
As I walk along the tides,

The cold breeze tickles my ears making them pink with frost bite.

The rain makes me drip from head to toe.

And the thunder bursts my ears.














By Erica 11 years old Y7 Selwyn House School




Cloudy afternoon
I fly through thrashing

Sonal Year 5 Nine years old Fendalton Open Air School



I take

a stroll

by the river,


the wind

blows me and

my umbrella

into the air,

and now the river.

Gryffin, aged 10, Year 6, Westend School

Storm Horse

A storm is showing
it shouts and screams
there is a light
it’s a horse

The horse is a raindrop
in the storm
the howl of a wolf
is in my shed
a creak and there is silence
the storm disappeared
my storm horse is delivered

Sophia D Age 7, Ilam School, Year 3.

Storm 1

The clouds
glaring darkly,
the wind
howling loudly,
the rain
is blowing,
in many
strange directions.

Storm 2

The clouds are glaring darkly.
The wind is howling loudly.
The rain is blowing strangley.
The storm isn’t playing kindly!

Ewen W aged 12, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch



The Raining Storm

Raining with every raindrop
a mini-lightning.
The people go
inside their houses.

Written by: Ronnie age: 7 Year: 3 Ilam Primary (Christchurch)


Whispering Whispering
In the storm I
heard whispering
echoing across
the valley going wooooooo

The dog
hit his
leg and
howled and

Name:        Vesper W Age: 5 Year: 2 Ilam School



Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 3.36.39 PM

By Lucy J Year 8 Selwyn House


Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 3.42.22 PM

by Reilly 12 years old  Year 8 Selwyn House School




Brew and bubble clouds of ink,
under the mantle of darkness coil and strike!
roar and grind in my cauldron black

Invade the heavens with crooked claws,
and lash like whips upon those below.

Eliza Meekings 12 year 8 Selwyn House


Cruising Storm

The ocean’s waves crashing against the rocky cove,
diving deep below the surface.

There’s a silence,

Kate  aged 9 Selwyn House School


Bravo everyone who wrote a poem!

double storm poems! a swarm of storm poems!

Hello poetry fans,

I realise that I have had two stormy weekends in a row and accidentally made storm the topic for two different challenges. How confusing for you and me!

We lost power for two nights the first weekend and part of a day in the second storm. So storms were on my mind!

I do think you can return to a topic though and find new things to say about it. That’s what I love to try and do in my own writing.

I am hard at work writing every morning which is why I only answer your emails in the afternoon.

I have had SO many storm poems that have played with lines it is going to be SO hard to choose just a few to post in the morning.

Remember this week’s challenge was to write a storm poem and use your EARS and LISTEN to your poem when you have finished writing it.

Happy poetry days!



Poetry Bonanza Monday: a challenge, some tips on using your ears, a storm

I am sitting at my desk.

Yesterday I could hear the cicadas and the radio in the distance and a blowfly storming into my room and someone mowing their lawns and the occasional car. It is quiet where I live, yet the more I listen the more I hear.

This morning, after the rain that pelted our roof all night and the gusting winds it is strangely quiet.

I have been thinking about the people in Vanuatu. I have been thinking about all those wonderful people I met in Gisborne on my tour who are bracing themselves for more storm. My thoughts are with you. Arohanui, Paula


This week the challenge is to use your ears when you write a poem.


When I have written a poem I like to listen to it.

I like to listen to each line and each word.

How does this word sound next to that word?

What happens if I change a word?

How does this line sound flowing on to that line?

Do I need all the words?

How does it sound if I change something about my poem?


This week I challenge you to do  L I S T E N I N G  T E S T  on your poem. Listen to it carefully. Every word!


The topic: There is a huge terrible cyclone in the Pacific and we are getting some of it too with fierce rain and gales.


Write a poem about a storm. Did you experience a bit of Cyclone Pam? Or can you find out about the storm in Vanuata or in New Zealand? Poems can be a way to share our experiences. I am happy to post photos too.

Remember: this is a Listening-to-your-poem challenge!


DEADLINE for your Listening-to-my-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Listening-to-my-Poem challenge.

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