Monthly Archives: May 2015

My favourite cat poems

Lots of lovely cat poems thank you. Sorry  couldn’t post them all!  I loved the detail in your poems and the way the cats have come alive with your choice of words. These poems are all different but great to read. Congratulations if I picked your poem to post.

I like to share books around rather than say I am picking winners of my challenges! I love all the poems I post but this time I am sending the cat book to Imogen.





My cat is scared of everything

My cat is scared of everything

When Dad puts the chainsaw on outside

She runs back indoors like a maniac

Her tail in knots, her paddy paws thumping like a thunderbird

My sister calls her “scatty catty”


My cat is scared of everything

When someone creaks opens the pantry

She scampers up into her cat tower

Her eyes like an owl, her whiskers in a twist

My mum calls her “chicken kitten”


When she sees a scary part in my How to Train Your Dragon dvd

She leaps high in the air

Her fur sticking out like a puffer fish, her tummy vibrating like a wobbly jelly

My dad calls her “wussy pussy”


My cat is scared of everything

When it is really stormy outside

She snuggles right up to my pillow

And she purrs me to sleep like someone telling a bedtime rhyme

I call her “my hot water bottle”

Daniel Age 6, Year 2, Adventure School



Blood red whiskers,

eyes like bubbles,

his ginger fur

skims past lamp posts

Silence falls until…


you’re in trouble!

Poppie-Belle Year 6  10 years old   Fendalton Open Air School


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Gemma Age 9 Year 5, Adventure School


My Cat Crystal
Mattered fur, swishing tail
Goggly eyes, staring at the door
Dancing at the door, meowing endlessly for food,
Every morning & night
Sound asleep in the front yard snoozing
Running because she doesn’t want to be held!

Imogen R, Age 9, Year 5, Kenakena School




fluoro green eyes,

in the dark of night,

ink black,

tail swishing,



claws swiping,


Natalie Age: 10 Year: 6  Fendalton Open-Air School



A flash of white in the middle of the night

A flash of white in the middle of the night,

The clouds, the sun, the moon, the sea, is my little Artie.

He is the sun, he is the moon and he is the one, the single sun,

But most of all, he is my Artie.
My cat is like

My cat is like a phoenix, he rises majestically, to the skies he will rise.

My cat is as ginger as cinnamon, ground in the pot.

My cat is like Queen Nefertiti with his beautiful green-eyed stare.

My cat is like a ballerina as he leaps through the air.

both poems by Imogen 7 years old Year 3 Homeschooled


The Story of Cali

On a wild wet track

Walked past the flax


A strange



Followed the sound

And finally found





Wrapped in a towel

With a tiny meow





Fed the cat

Brushed out the matts





Found a new home

Never alone





Now the Queen of laps

Can just relax




Daniel Age 6, Year 2, Adventure School  (This cat turned up lost at Daniel’s place and now his Nan has it! Wonderful. We ended up with a lost cat too that nobody wanted.)



Tessa (12) interviews Rachael Craw ‘I have a basic idea of where I want to go and feel my way towards the end’

rach photo 1   spark-3d-cover

Rachael Craw, was an English teacher before she had kids, then she was “hijacked” by writing, and Spark was her first novel. Her book was published by Walker Books Australia. Stray (book 2) is set for release in September 2016. She was born and raised in Christchurch and now lives in Nelson. She moved when the earthquake destroyed her neighbourhood. She went to Burnside High School. She was greatly inspired by her  English teacher Ms McColl. Mrs McColl took her creative writing class to the Writer’s Festival in Dunedin (Rachael’s first ever!) where she sat listening to the poetry of David Eggleton.


The Interview

10 years ago, did you want to become a writer?
I think I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life but the idea of getting published seemed far beyond the reach of possibility. So I never attempted to do anything professionally which strikes me now as a very great shame. Imagine how much more experience I would have by now if I had been brave enough to start twenty years ago. Unfortunately I feared I lacked the discipline to attempt writing a book. I thought I was too lazy, too impatient, that I lacked the inner fortitude to follow through and I hated the idea of starting and giving up. All these silly fears kept me from trying. I completely underestimated the power of obsession. When the idea for Spark came to me, I was hooked and couldn’t let it go.

Throughout my whole life I have kept journals and still do. I enjoyed writing plays more than stories when I was a child and teen and was very attracted to dialogue and the spoken word. I also wrote a lot of embarrassing poetry about boys I fancied and boys who broke my heart.

Do you enjoy reading Sci-fi books?
I must confess I have read very little science fiction, though I loved studying William Gibson (famous sci-fi writer) at University. I have always felt like a bit of a fraud seeing Spark labelled as sci-fi because when I think of the genre I naturally think of things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, space, aliens, futuristic technology. Spark is much more of a contemporary drama set in the here and now, a coming of age story that just happens to have the slightly far-fetched premise of genetically engineered DNA.

Here’s a glimpse of my reading habits:
My favourite genre is Magical Realism.
My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood and Kate Atkinson.
I am a huge fan of YA and greatly admire the work of Patrick Ness and Maggie Stiefvater.
Currently, I’m on a fantasy bender.

Did you have other ideas of where Spark would go or did you always know?
The idea came from a dream. The dream became the prologue of the book. The feeling in the dream of running at speed with crazy awesome reflexes, strength and heightened senses “felt” like radio-active spider bite material. I suppose I could have attributed Evie’s abilities to magic but it was more like a comic-book superhero vibe. I knew I wanted to write YA, that I wanted a kick-ass female protagonist but the world of the Affinity Project was a process of discovery, letting my brain have fun coming up with the how and why behind her abilities.

3 things I wanted to explore in Spark:
Freewill. How much of whom we are is a result of our choices and how much is predetermined by what is in our DNA?
The hero archetype. I wanted to play with the ‘chosen-one’ role in story-telling (it’s become very unpopular these days)
A 3-stranded love story exploring the love between a parent figure and child, between friends, and romantic love.
CONFESSION: I’m not much of a plotter. I have a basic idea of where I want to go and feel my way towards the end.

What age did you start devouring books?
I was a very keen reader. I’m not sure how old I was but I can remember devouring Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Books, Roald Dahl and the Narnia books. In fact, I can remember attempting to read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at an age where most of the words were fairly incomprehensible to me but I was determined and ploughed on despite the holes in my understanding.

Have you always had a love of words?
YES! Words are my great love. Shape, sound and texture. I’m a bit obsessed with finding the right word.

What did you think you were going to be when you were at intermediate?
An actor

A few characters in Spark have DNA that gives them superhuman powers. If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?
Telekinesis (moving things with the power of your mind).

What subjects did you take at High School?
English, Drama, Classical Studies, Creative Writing, Photography and Art History

How long did it take you to get published?
From idea to publication it took 5.5years. I had to learn to write along the way. I looked for great, trustworthy criticism to help hone my craft. I had my manuscript professionally assessed several times and a year of mentoring. I still have lots to learn.

What books inspired you as a child?
I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Narnia books, Anne of Green Gables and all of LM Montgomery’s work. I was a huge fan of girl detective Trixie Beldon and chewed through her endless mystery adventures.

The Interviewer: My name is Tessa. I am 12. I love dogs, reading books and discussing new books with my mum. I have never read a sci-fi before Spark but it is my favourite book, of all time. I have grown up in Christchurch and travelled a bit through NZ.


Rachaek’s web site

How to send a poem to Poetry Box; and Charlotte looks under a hat and in a pocket

Sometimes I have trouble reading the poems you send in. Esecially if it is an attachment via Google Docs. And if you send a PDF, I have to take a screen shot and sometimes the poem won’t fit.

Easiest thing for me is if you send a word doc or a jpeg.



Charlotte’s teacher sent in these two cool poems for a poem-inspired-by-another-poem challenge. I had to get them resent so I could read them and in my fuzz forgot to post them.

So here they are. I love the language, the imagination and the sense of humour. Great idea to swap the back of the chair for a pocket!

Congratulations Charlotte. I am going to send you a copy of my book, The Letterbox Cat. Charlotte is in Year 5, aged 9 and goes to Chelsea Primary School.



Jacket Pockets  

Inspired by Margaret  Mahy’s  ‘Down in the Back of the Chair’

What will anyone ought to
find there?
Gran’s old glasses,
50 ticket passes,
Mum’s old sachets
for super strong coffee?
Lola’s mushy toffee?
A roller coaster,
ol’ Jimmy’s toaster,
the Spanish visitor’s
beach ball?
Or the little weirdo roaster?

Although the pockets are only small,
I have before found more than 100
beach balls…

I wear my jacket when I’m cold,
it brings back memories,
when I first
painted the dog gold!
It’s a treasure chest!
From fabric to wire mesh!

It’s not much,
Not such…

From trash to treasure, there is no measure!
This is my jacket,
These are my pockets,
And this is the end of my poem.


A Pizza?
Inspired by Paula Green’s ‘The Hat’

I really don’t want to be rude,
But when Lola last came here she said “Dude!”
“The meatballs have spinach,
and fudge is all water!
I doubt if the spaghetti was a cinch!”

When the old lady next door,
tried your cake,
she fell to the floor!
Her hair was gold,
I think we put fly spray in,
cause now the poor lady’s

Yes the lunches, they are yum,
But quietly my friends squish the spaghetti
with their thumbs…
I do tell them to “STOP”
cause, reluctantly the janitor
dumps it all with the mop.

Dinner is fun,
if we get the quiche done,
BUT if we order by the phone,
and if we never mind the loan…

Dinner is better,
the benches won’t get any wetter,
I Promise, I Promise, I Promise!

It won’t hurt-
The lady next door won’t have to keep
her poor head bald…

It won’t hurt to have a…

Poetry Bonanza Monday: The wind, the wind, the wild wild wind

What a wild weekend we had. The wind was whipping around our house like a ferocious monster. It seemed to rain and pelt the whole time. For a big chunk we had no power so I had to read by candlelight. Luckily we could light our fire and keep warm.

I did manage to get online for a second and tell you about the Squishy Squashy Bird. Daniel was the first to tell his favourite bird (the kiwi) so I am sending him the book.

I think I stayed awake all Saturday night listening to the whipping wind and reading by candlelight.

It put me in the mood to read wind poems and to send you on the hunt for a popping wind simile.

The wind is still whipping about like a monster so no beach run for me this morning.

Your challenge this week is to write a poem about the wind (see below for more things you can do).


Here are some hints:

1. Collect lots of wind verbs.

2. Collect lots of wind sounds.

3. Collect five wind similes then pick your favourite one or two.

4. Now write your poem.

5. Listen to each line.

6. Try a little bit of repetition.

7.  Try writing a little wind poem with no more than 16 word or so.



Here are some MORE things you do:

You can still review a New Zealand book for me. See here.

You can still interview a New Zealand author. I am posting the first interview this week! See here for details.

Schools can still enter The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition. See here.



DEADLINE for your Wind-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 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 Wind-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).

Squishy Squashy Birds by Carl van Wijk and Alicia Munday: I have a copy to give away


Squishy Squashy Birds by Carl van Wijk and Alicia Munday (Potton & Burton, 2015)


Alicia used to love dreaming up stories when she was little. Then when she got to be an adult she worked in advertising. Now her two boys have inspired her to write for children.

Carl used to hang out in New Zealand forests when he was a boy sketching birds. He has also chosen to work in advertising since he has grown up. He now lives in Tokyo, in Japan.

The title is important because the birds are squashed to fit on the page! In a good way! That is pretty much all you see. Big beautiful native New Zealand birds. It is like close-ups of birds so you can really see the feathers, the colours, the beaks, the claws. My favourite page is the kiwi page. Wonderful!

The title is also important because in the story the birds are squashed in the book which is squashed in Sammy’s school bag. The birds don’t like being squashed in a book in the stuffy dark! You get to hear what they would rather be doing!

I love what happens when Sammy opens the book to show all the class. Imagine if your room fills with glorious birds when you open this book!

I adore the imagination and I adore the detail, but the poet in me found the rhymes a bit clunky.

I have one copy of this beautiful book for a child that is six years or under who tells me their favourite New Zealand bird and why they  like it.

Send to Include your name, year, age and name of school.



My favourite poems inspired by other poems



So many poems inspired by other poems. I loved reading them all so a huge thanks for sending them in. I couldn’t post them every onebut that doesn’t mean I didn’t love them all. Congratulations if I picked your poem this time, but if not, do send in more next time. It makes me do a jig you love writing poetry so much.

Daniel was inspired by AA Milne just as I was when I was little. I used to love reciting AA Milne poems when I was young and now I am old I still do! Ah! And I too love James K Baxter’s poems for children  (Sam picked one!).  And of course Margaret Mahy is a constant source of inspiration for me.

Thanks to the very wonderful Helen Parsons I have a copy of Baxter Basics to give to one lucky poet. I have picked Ruby from Lyttelton School. ‘Shake’ is stunning poem. I love each line. The images, the sounds and the flow. Congratulations.


Now I am Ten!

(A poem based on Now We Are Six by AA Milne)


When I was one, I had lots of fun

When I was two, there was lots to do

When I was three, I rode a jet ski

When I was four, I was poor for sure

When I was five, I danced the jive

When I was six, I ate weetbix

When I was seven, my brother was eleven

When I was eight, I was always late

When I was nine, I was right on time

Now I am ten, and I’m having fun again!

 Daniel Age 6, Year 2, Adventure School


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PS  Greg O’Connell wrote the swimming underwater poem and Ruby and Ngaio go to Lyttelton School.



The wind is writing

what it knows

in lines along the water.

the sun is glaring

down with

beady eyes

the trees are shaking

fearful of

the cold temperatures

the land is still

calm in the midst

of  the world’s chaos.

Ewen W aged 12, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch
My poem was inspired by the last paragraph (which I made the first) of Laura Ranger’s ‘The Sea.’


Up in heaven

Up in heaven,

Angels frolic and play.

With dresses of pearly white spiderwebs.

And cream feathered wings.

Golden halos sit on their hair.

They carry golden harps,

And play melodies all day long.

But in a forgotten corner.

There’s an angel who’s lost her wings,

Dented her halo,

And broken her harp.

She sits in her corner,



And sad.

The others have forgotten about her.

Maybe you could help her.

Find her wings,

Straighten her halo,

And fix her harp.

Then you can join her.

Up in heaven.

Inspired by the line ‘There’s an angel who’s lost her wings’ from the poem ‘There’s a Unicorn in the Garden’ by Peter Bland.

Isis 12 years old, Year 7. Selwyn House School


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Olive wrote the Margaret Mahy poem.

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Sam, Alex, Ventia, Bella and Olive go to Lyttelton School. This class sent in a bunch of terrific poems. I loved them all so it was hard picking just a few to post. Congratulations on all the great poetry work class. Great language, great ideas, great imagination!


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Gemma (9) reviews Scarecrow Army by Leon Davidson



Scarecrow Army by Leon Davidson Black Dog Books 2006


This book is about the ANZACs at Gallipoli and the challenges they faced. It contains true stories and diary entries that give you an idea about the harsh reality of soldier’s lives at Galliopli.

I liked that the author included actual diary entries, and put information about the pieces of writing afterwards. It taught me a lot and helped me to understand.

I wish that this mind-pulling book had more intriguing letters and fascinating info, so that it would be both awesome and thick at the same time… because I didn’t want it to end.

One thing I liked was the precise and descriptive language. Another thing readers should know is that it is quite complex to read – but in a good way!

I think that this book is for advanced, confident readers who can cope with sadness and WW1 ideas.

This is a fabulous book and I give it five out of five for greatness. It got into the finals for the New Zealand post book awards, for a good reason. I love this book!


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


Leon Davidson grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand and spent some time in Australia. He has had lots of different jobs: dishwasher, a house painter, in a call centre and in a chicken factory. Scarecrow Army is Leon Davidson’s first book and Red Haze was his second. When he was a boy he dreamed of becoming a soldier but now he is against armed conflict.

You can find an interview with Leon on The Scarecrow Army here.

Poetry Bonanza Tuesday: What I did at the weekend, a challenge and my cat news


Weetbix and Molly (the dog who swims like a concrete mixer!)

This weekend I went to the Auckland Writers Festival which filled me with the joy of words. I heard wonderful stories and breathtaking poems.

What did I love about them? How did some stories and poems catch hold of me while others didn’t? It is a BIG question and there is no one straight answer to it. There are lots of answers!

Some authors said REAL DETAIL helps their writing. I agree. I f you write a poem about a big thing like love (how you love your mum for example) and you go hunting for real detail (about your mum for example) the poem matters so much more.

When I visit school I discover how many of you love cats. So I thought this week the challenge will be to write a cat poem with lots of REAL DETAIL. If you have read my books you will know I have written lots of cat poems because we have three cats.  But sadly one of our cats (Weetbix) has died recently so now we just have two cats. He was the cat that ate everyone’s food! So we have been sad.


Here are some tips on writing a cat poem with good detail:

1. Hunt for words before you start writing.

2. What does the cat look like?

3. What does the cat like to do?

4. What does the cat like to eat?

5. Is there anything unusual about the cat?

6. What moods does the cat have?

7. Where does the cat like to sleep.

8. Try writing the poem with no more than 5 words on a line.

9. Try writing a cat poem with good detail that uses no more than 20 words.

10. Try putting a popping simile in your poem.

11. Make sure you have the best word for the job when you are describing something.

12. Try out three different endings. Which do you like best?

13. Try three different titles.

14. Have fun!


DEADLINE for your Cat-Poem Challenge: Thursday May 28th

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 Cat-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).

PS I have a very cool cat book for one poet!



Poem bonanza Monday: poems sparking poems sparking poems sparking


978-1-877448-18-8  978-1-877448-18-8   978-1-877448-18-8   978-1-877448-18-8   978-1-877448-18-8



Don’t forget I am on the hunt for children and classes  to interview NZ authors and children to write reviews of NZ books.

This week I will share some books I have enjoyed.

And here is a wee poem challenge for you.


Try writing a poem inspired by another poem, especially a poem by a NZ author.

1. You might borrow the title.

2. You might borrow the first line.

3. You might borrow the last line.

4. You might be inspired by a phrase.

5. You might be inspired by the subject of the poem.

6. Or the mood.

7. Or anything else.

8. After the title write: Inspired by and then the name of the poet and their title

for example: Inspired by James K Baxter’s ‘The Tree House’

9. Thanks to the very lovely Helen Parsons, I have a copy of James K Baxter’s poems for children to give to one young poet.


DEADLINE for your ‘Poem inspired by a Poem’ Challenge: Wednesday May 20th

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 ‘Poem inspired by a Poem’ challenge. Put in the subject line of the email please.

I will post my favourites (Year 0 to Year 8) on May 22nd.