Monthly Archives: April 2015

Tuesday Poetry Bonanza: a glorious book and a glorious challenge!

Over the weekend I had fun reading books: an adult novel, an adult poetry collection and a picture book and I loved them all.

The picture book though is the best picture book I have read in ages so if you are going to read ONE picture book this year make it this ONE!

It is another glorious book by the glorious Gecko Press: The King and the Sea.


king-sea   king-sea


The author is Heinz Janisch (he is Austrian and has won lots of international awards) and the illustrator Wolf Erlbruch (he’s German and he did the fabulous Duck, Death and the Tulip also published by Gecko Press).

The illustrations are gorgeous heavenly divine stunning beautiful and uttterly simple. They are like coloured-pencil cutouts on brown paper sitting on the great white stretch of the white page.

This is a collection of 21 very very short stories and they are so very very GOOD! I want to gobble them up and suck them for hours!

The longest story has 11 lines and the shortest story has 2 lines.


The stories have characters, dialogue, settings and a little something happening.

They are NOT stories with BIG FLASHY action.

They are stories that are QUIET so you have to bend in close.

They are stories about paying attention to little things.

They are stories about big questions hiding in little things.

The king is in every story.


In one story the king tells the sea he is king and the sea whooshes back at him so the king gets thoughtful and just listens to the waves.

In another story the cat says the sun is his king so the king takes off his coat and lies down next to the cat to feel the sun on his body.

In another story the king decides there are two sides to everything as he sees his small crown cast a long shadow.

The sentences are simple and not too long. With a great rhythm. Very delicious.    

L  i k e   p o e m s!




This week’s challenge:

Write a very very short story with no more than 11 lines/sentences!  You can do it as a poem or just use very beautiful sentences.

Have one or two characters.

Have some dialogue.

Have a little something happening.


DEADLINE for your Very very short story Challenge: Wednesday May 6th

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 Very very short story challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

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



Final ANZAC poems by children


Thanks for all the poems you sent in over the past few days. It was a real treat to read them all. I couldn’t post them all but I could tell you all loved writing and I look forward to reading more poems from you over the year.

Poems are such a good way to remember, to celebrate, to mourn, to show something about the world we live in, past, present or future. Real or imagined.

Here are the last ANZAC poems I have picked.



I stand in the trench, hidden in mud

Men all around me covered  in blood

The explosions stop

I wait to peek to see who has won

Until I hear the deafening sound of a gun

All hope is lost

My heart stops

We all are shot

Falling down

Now I am lying on the muddy ground

I painfully and slowly rise

But everyone else has a still body

And lifeless eyes

lest we forget the soldiers that gave their lives

This is my ANZAC poem my name is Zoe F.  I am a year seven at St Peters School.


Poppies of remembrance 🌹

Petals like an ember,
They sit in the ground,
They help us remember,
The gunfire sound.

Together the poppies look just  like a fire,
And as the poppies grow, the fire gets higher.
Lest we forget the men who have died.

Jordan H, I’m in year7, I go to St. Peters Cambridge and I’m 11 years old.


Lest We Forget

25th April is a day
where we remember,
a day when many
lost their lives
on the battlefield in Gallipoli.

Though it tore families apart,
it also bonded them closer
as each battalion,
group and contingent
fought collaboratively as one.

Sacrificing anything
and everything,
the recruits
young and old,
fought bravely
representing our country
with pride.

100 years on,
we carry their stories,
in our poppies
pinned tightly
to our hearts.
Lest We Forget.

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

Gemma read her ANZAC poem at Waiouru National Army Museum and brought tears to eyes

Last year I posted a fabulous ANZAC poem by Gemma on Poetry Box, and this year she got to read it on Saturday at the Waiouru National Army Museum. It sounds like she did an amazing job and brought tears to the eyes of those in the audience. I am delighted to hear of an event showcasing a poem by a child.  A swarm of people gathered round her afterwards to talk about the poem. Bravo Gemma. I am so proud of you.



We Will Remember

I wear these medals

I will remember


My Grandad wore these medals

He will remember


His Dad wore these medals

He can’t remember


His Dad earned those medals

He wouldn’t want to remember.


Gemma is in Year 5 and aged 9. She goes to Adventure School in Whitby.

Three more ANZAC poems by children

Some more ANZAC poems with shining detail, great rhythms and strong moods. Thank you!



The sky is black as coal.

My heart is pounding.

As my mind wanders

The unstoppable sound

of ammunition surrounds me

The rats scuttle uncontrollably,

brushing my feet with their wiry fur

This is a living hell

Campbell, Year 7, Age 11, St Peters School



The Battleship

The spearhead of a mighty empire prepared for its doom

Shells and machine gun fire whistle overhead

Unnoticed danger lay ahead undetected

Awaiting its chance to snatch it’s first and last victim

Drifting closer and closer

The call of mine goes up among the ship… but too late

Boom! Molten steel and shrapnel goes flying

The spearhead is gone

Despair is in the air


my name is Samuel, year 7 and am 11 years old and i am at St Peters School.

The Battlefield

In the trenches

The gun shots pound

The soldiers tremble all around

The bombs go off

The shrapnel spread

They take their guard and

Storm the land

where none shall pass

Some will lose

Others will win

But they will always be remembered

My name is Alex K. I am year 7 and 11 years old. I am at St Peters School Cambridge.

Three more ANZAC Day poems by children

Thanks again for all the ANZAC poems. I am reading my way through them, all the moods and different rhythms.

I like the way the questions pound through Monica’s poem like the pound of war. I like the focus and great detail in Ben’s poem and I like the detail, the rhythm and the repetition in Matthew’s. Great job!


Tears traipse down
my face of mud
I bite my lip, it
tastes of defeat

He said, don’t stop,
Carry on, get there,
Stop them

But why?
Why the war?

Nobody asked for this,
Nobody needed this,
Did they?

Guns echo,
each shot
answers my question

by Monica K, Year 8, Russley School



Ode to the dugouts, which saved lives.

The safe haven under the horrors above.

The underground escape from constant shelling.

The muddy homes of soldiers.

The protection from gas attacks.

A quiet place to think of home.

A place to write letters, and receive parcels.

Without dugouts, what would they have done?

Ben H Year 7 St Peters School


ANZAC poem An unlikely hero. From the perspective of a lark.

As the cockerel crows to mark the dawn.

The fire starts it’s in-human roar.

Amidst it all I start to fly, amongst the now death ridden sky.

Down below, they start to crow, but not like I, they start to cry.

For in their holes that man has dug, lay the dead, the wounded, the other ones, for whom                 will never see the sun.

Down below, they start to crow, but not like I, they start to cry.

I look under my wings, I see them screaming, in pain. Two forces of man, but both in vain.

Down below they start to crow, but not like I, they start to cry.

I cannot bear, it anymore, their human tear. I take to dive, to the ground below for to the war, I must go.

Two fighters left, gun in hand, each a truly worthy man.

For one will shoot and the other die, But not if I can, if I can fly.

The metal strikes me, right in the heart, to the ground I fall, a measly lark.

The two men stand, no ammo left, a duel, I wish, could just be left.

Down below, they start to crow, but, like I, they start to cry.

Up above, they start to crow, and just like I, they can fly, in the clouds, absent from war, for they are safe, now and forever.
Lest we forget.

Matthew A, I am a year 7, I am 11 years old and my school name is St Peters Cambridge.

Two outstanding poems by children for ANZAC Day

As you discover following this blog, and reading and writing poems, poems can do anything. These two ANZAC poems are very different from each other, but stand out for me.

Gemma‘s poem starts with an important question. It reminds us that war affects all people, on and off the battlefields. It changes the way lives are lived. I really love the way she has thought about it.

Daniel has taken the poppy and used that to make a terrific picture poem (a shape poem). What makes his poem even better is the way he has thought of good detail for his poem. Strong detail. He has written a poppy poem that we could wear!

Congratulations on all the thought and exploration and creativity you both put into your poems, Gemma and Daniel. I have a surprise book for each of you.

I will post more poems over the next few days … have a lot to read yet!


What About the Women?

Where were the women

In the war?

They did indeed stay home

But their life changed


On the farm

Harvesting crops

Getting thin

Doing the work of men


In the factories

Building bombs

Turning yellow

Sulphur was to blame


Where else were women

In the war?

They didn’t all stay home

And their life changed


On the front line

Hospitals, trains and ships

Nursing wounded soldiers

Burying the dead


In the air and on the sea

Even in disguise

Posing as men

Doing what needed to be done


Where else were women

In the war?


Mothers. Sisters. Daughters. Lovers.


Broken hearted when their men didn’t come home.


Gemma L   Age 9, Year 5   Adventure School, Whitby



Screen shot 2015-04-24 at 10.32.35 AM

Daniel L, Aged 6, Year 2 Adventure School, Whitby

Four ANZAC poems by NZ children


Dear young poets,

Thanks for all the ANZAC poems you have sent in. I especially loved those with strong detail, real detail. That’s what helps make the mood in a poem strong. I will post a few each day until about Tuesday. So there is still time to try my challenge at the weekend. Look back at my post here for tips on how to write your poem.

Best wishes for the holiday weekend,

from Paula x


Forever Lost


remembering the dead,



a red paintbrush,

dropped in the lake,


Barbed wire,

a muddy pile,




in the cupboard,


No longer,

the roar of planes,

no-man’s land.

Natalie H Age:10 Year:6 School: Fendalton Open-Air School, Christchurch



smells like smoke

sounds like the Last Post

looks like a battlefield

tastes like mud

feels like shattered glass


by Phoenix, YR 6, Russley School, Christchurch




smells rotten

sounds like the last post

looks like 18,000 graves

feels broken

by Farren, YR 6, Russley School, Christchurch


Dying soldiers

guns shooting terrifyingly

war planes shockingly firing


smells like smoke

shooting scary guns

killing poor innocent


poppy fields at the

last post


by Kim S, year 6, Russley School, Christchurch


The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition is now launched!

The New Zealand Book Council and Poetry Box

are working together on the Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition.


Please include an Entry Form with your submission & please provide student details on each entry.

This competition is for school entries not individual entries.

All details are on the flyer! This year the entries are being sent to the Book Council not me.



Paula’s tip: A range of ages and poems will be to your advantage!


Catriona Ferguson, the Director of The NZ Book Council, and I will judge the entries.


Warm regards,







ANZAC Day Centenary on Poetry Box: a poem challenge for you


We are remembering:                  1  0  0     H u n d r e d  Y e a r s   A g o


This year is a huge and important remembrance of ANZAC Day.

War is a complicated and tough subject. If we start to think about what happened at Gallipoli, we might think about big things that are beyond our imagination. We can also think about little things.

We can read what men and women wrote about their experience, especially in letters home.

We can look at photographs. We can read the books that have been written in recent times.

Last year I posted about some fabulous ones here.



I invite you to send me an ANZAC Day poem you have written. Even as a class poem.


You might need to do a bit of research to write your poem.


You might explore one small thing in your poem that stands out for you.

You might use a bit of someone’s letter home.

You might try to stand in someone else’s shoes.


Your poem might show what it was like in the trenches.

It might explore the sounds of the trench war.

It might show what it was like for those left at home.


It might be like a photograph.

It might tell a little story.

It might be about a single thing like a pair of shoes or an overcoat.


ANZAC Day is also time to think about all wars and their cost.

It might ask a question.

It might be very short and very simple.


You might write it after you go to an ANZAC ceremony.


I would love to post a few of your poems on Friday 24th, Saturday 25th April. And maybe on the Monday.

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

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



Term 2 on Poetry Box: a movie, a show and three challenges


Welcome back to Poetry Box. I hope your break was as lovely as mine. I went to Australia to go to a family wedding which was a special treat indeed.  Back home, I saw the movie Cinderella which I loved. My favourite line was when the mum told Cinderella that two very important things in life are kindness and courage. I so agree! And I saw Singing in the Rain with my daughter which was spectacular.

Here are a few challenges to kick start the term. Two big ones and one little one.



1. A poem challenge for this week:

Poems can have all kinds of moods just like we can have all kinds of moods.

Try writing a poem where something funny happens in it. It might be a little bit true as lots of mine are. Or totally made up. Use you ears to check the sound on each line. Where will you put the funny bit. At the start,  the middle or at the end as a surprise? All work!

Try three different endings then pick your favourite. Try three titles and pick your favourite.

DEADLINE for your Funny-Poem Challenge: Wednesday April 29th

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 Funny-Poem challenge.

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


2. Interview challenge:

I am on the hunt for children and classes to interview NZ writers again this term. 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  see if I can get the author to do the interview  with you.  I will have a prize pack of books for my favourite interview by a class and a book for my favourite interview by a student (up to Year 8).



3. Review challenge:

I am on the hunt for children and classes to review NZ books this year. If you want  to do this you need to tell me your details then I will tell you what to put in the review. You need to tell me your name, school, age, year and name of teacher and if you are a whole class. I will have a prize pack of books for my favourite interview by a class and a book for my favourite interview by a student (up to Year 8).



The Fourth fabulous Poetry Competition:

I am posting the details of this in the next few days!