Monthly Archives: August 2015

Poetry Bonanza Monday: a funny challenge and my Spike Milligan story

You can see from my last post I had a fabulous time at Storylines Family Day.

This week I am challenging you to write a poem that is funny. I love writing poems that make me laugh and make children laugh as you will know from my books Macaroni Moon and The Letterbox Cat.


1.Listen to your poem and make sure it sounds good.

2. It might be funny in the last line – a wee surprise.

3. You can write poems that are funny without using bottom humour (poo and so on!)

4. Some funny poems tell a story.

5. Some funny poems play with words like Dr Seuss did.

6. Some funny poems are about something that happened to you.

7. Some funny poems are made up.




DEADLINE for your Funny-Poem Challenge: Wednesday September 9th

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. 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).


Thanks to the fabulously generous, poetry-loving Lovewell Family, I have a really really really awesome funny poem book to give away: Silly Verse for Kids by Spike Milligan.  Thank you so much!


My Spike Milligan story: I used to live in London a long time ago. One day I was walking down the road and who should come cycling towards me – Spike Milligan. I started laughing, so he started laughing, so we were both laughing really hard. So hard he nearly fell off his bike. He gave me a wave and a big HAHAHAW! and cycled off wobbling and teetering but never quite hitting the ground. Phew!



Thank you Storylines — and a few favourite poems from today

I had a hairy drive from the west into the city in the driving rain. It was worth it!

But what a lovely day I had talking about poetry with individual children in the poetry zone, signing the odd book or two and doing a book talk with the fabulous Leonie Agnew and Sacha Cotter on becoming an author.

Storylines works so hard to bring events like this to families. Bravo and thank you for all your hard work and dedication. I salute you.

Here are a couple of poems I loved from the Poetry Zone. I loved these poems because they sounded really good when I read them aloud. They are often quite simple. I loved some of the repeating words which helped the sound of the poems. These poems are all quite simple. I love the way squid shimmers in the middle of Maren’s poem. Ah poetry bliss!

I just got to breeze in and read what they had written. Lucky me!

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Wet Auckland morning -perfect weather for a sizzling Storylines Family Day

A day of activities, authors and illustrators with masses of children and parents!

If you want to hear me read poems you will have to get there early as I am on at 10 am in the Limelight Room. Will have a few giveaways. 

Otherwise come and say hello when I am signing books and sign my poem diary. 

Or come to the book talk panel I am on. 

Or go on the hunt for a favourite author. 

Or check out someone you have never heard of. 

Make a Storylines discovery!

Have fun and keep dry!
Warm regards


Wardini Books Great Big Poetry Competition 2015

Wardini Books Great Big Poetry Competition 2015

Judge’s Report (Paula Green)

It was great pleasure to get a bundle of fabulous poems, to read my way through them and to read them again. When you read lots of poems side by side, and your task is to pick a winner (always so very hard!), you are looking for the poem that stands out. For me it has to sound good and then it might do any of a thousand things. It might have terrific detail, it might build a shimmering picture in my mind or it might tell a tiny story that hooks. There will be words that pop on the line and images that catch and grow. Some of the very best poems take me by surprise and I just say ‘wow!’

Thank you for the opportunity to share in the poetry bubbling away in your schools and families.


Years 5 to 7

There were lots of wonderful poems about the seasons, lots of poems using senses, and lots of eye-catching words. The winner jumped out at me in this section, but I found it much harder to pick the Highly Recommended poems as it was very close.


Winner: Amelia B, age 6, ‘The Fairytale’

I loved this poem because it surprised me and every line sung in my ear so beautifully. I especially loved ‘soft dandelion sings.’ It sounded gorgeous when I read it aloud and I especially loved the ending. Congratulations Amelia.


The Fairytale

Have you heard the fairytale

about the petal fairy wings?

Glitter in the moonlight

soft dandelion sings,

magic and fun

live inside of you.


Highly Recommended: Pete A age 5, ‘My Dog Jess’

This poem made such a fabulous picture of a dog I could almost touch it. I love the way the poem explores being warm and dressed up (both Pete and the dog, genius!)

Highly Recommended: Abbie C, age 7, Abbie made such a fascinating, topsy-turvy pattern for a poem it made me want to try one myself. I love this line: ‘The clouds take over the sky and the sky takes over the clouds.’

Highly Recommended: T’Qyn, age 7, ‘The snowy winter’

Lots of poems used this model but this one stood out for because it sounded so good when I read it out loud. Each line had a gorgeous rhythm. I especially loved the third line, ‘I can touch the freezing snow with my gloved hand.’ I love the word ‘gloved’ in there.



Years 8 to 10

There were lots of colour poems, lots of frosty poems and poems describing things. In this group two young poets stood out for me, Yasmine and Sophie. Their poems were sparklingly original. They managed to capture a place (as though the poem was a shiny photograph) by using great detail, exquisite sounding lines and electric words. Each poem built a gorgeous image in my head that stuck.


Winner: Yasmine Tiedemann, age 8, ‘Sea’

I adored the music of each line in this poem and the way each line added to the sea picture, with simplicity and playfulness. The poem showed me the sea in a new light because the poet hunted for fresh detail that would surprise me. For example ‘Washing waves and swirling seaweed.’ The word ‘washing’ lifts the line up several notches. Congratulations Yasmine.



Washing waves and swirling seaweed

Little fish busy for escape

Turtles king of the reefs


Astonishing lion fish

Pumping with poison


Little blues quacking their tunes

Starfish clinging to rocks like glue.



Extremely Highly Recommended Sophie Tiedemann, age 10, ‘Piwakawaka’

I loved all Sophie’s poems but this one stood out because it is so original and has such a fine rhythm and choice of words. I also loved the feeling that the choice of words built. You have to read the whole poem to see how it works together so beautifully. Wonderful!


I will carve you a fantail

flitting and free

from the precious dark wood

of a Kauri tree.


He will flitter and flutter

and shout


from his perch in the Kauri tree.


Highly Recommended Oskar Norman ‘Blue’

There were lots of colour poems following this pattern but this one stood out for because the rhythm of the lines is spectacular. Oskar has a great ear. “Blue is the feeling of cold a shivering.’


Highly Recommended Hunter Brownrigg, age 8, ‘What is frost?’

My pick from all the wintry poems because it had standout similies (‘The frost is a ghost haunting the grass) and words that sounded so good together (frost/sloth). I loved the different sounding lines too as it added to the music of the poem.




Year 11 to 13

In this bunch there was a clear winner, but it was much harder to choose the Highly Recommended poems as they were so close. War was a common theme, along with poems that explored different feelings.


Winner Jack Winiana, age 12, ‘Storm’

I adore this poem and it felt like the poet has a real feel for the way words make magic on the page and in the ear. When you listen to it read aloud you hear the words that surprise and pop. Words make lightning connections with other words and fizz and spark in your ear (carve, dark, canvas, night, smoke, moon, punctures, pummels, rolls forward). It is also a feast for the eye as the image of the storm builds so beautifully. Congratulations Jack.



Flashes of lightning carve

glowing patterns into the dark

canvas of the night sky.


Dark clouds rise like smoke to

consume the light of the stars

and moon.


And as rain punctuates the clouds

and pummels the ground, the storm

rolls forward across the land.


Highly Recommended Josh Tomlinson, age 12, ‘A Deafening Silence’

This poem stood out for me in the group of war-poem entries because it has created a small but perfect moment that moves you. Words make striking chords for the ear (death/left; freezes/screeching). It doesn’t overstate feeling but the feeling is so powerful in that gap between silence and sound. Remarkable.


Highly Recommended Amber-Rose, age 13, ‘On My Birthday’

This poem deals with a strong feeling of exclusion and isolation but it does it in a way that is playful and poetic. The poem sounds good, the line are tight and the similes fresh and inventive. It is very easy for a poem about a feeling to drown in that feeling. This poem shows how strong detail gives clues to a feeling without overstating it. Great rhythm too!



Happy NZ Poetry Day from Poetry Box – ten cool things to do


Dear young poetry fans,

Today is National Poetry Day in NZ. A perfect time to celebrate poetry.

Here some ideas of what you might like to do:

  1. write a poem for someone you love and give it to them (Mum, Dad, a friend, a sibling, a grandparent)
  2. get a NZ poetry book out of the library, read it and write a letter to the author (send c/- publisher)
  3. buy a NZ poetry book, read it and write a letter to the author
  4. chalk a poem on the pavement at school
  5. make a poem tree in your school library
  6. make a poem tree at home and send me a photo
  7. make a poem poster of your favourite poem you have written
  8. make poem biscuits with words on (thanks the Lovewells!)
  9. video yourself reading a poem
  10. write a poem just for yourself. Put it an envelope and open it next year on Poetry Day!


warm regards


Poetry bonanza Monday: Niamh’s challenge for you and an invite from me!

On Sunday it is Storylines Family Day in Auckland.

Come and say hello and sign my poem notebook. I want to get heaps of signatures from poetry fans. This is where you will find me:


10 am Limelight Room Reading some of my poems  (do come and help make an audience at this EARLY start! I plan to have some giveaways.)

10.30 am Dorothy Butler Stand signing books

11.00 am in the Poetry Zone Limelight Room reading the poems you make up/ giving tips

11.30 Paper Plus Stand  Owens Foyer   signing books

noon until 12.30      in the Poetry Zone  Limelight Room reading the poems you make up/ giving tips

1 until 1.30  LImelight Room  Doing a book talk with Leonie Agnew and Sacha Cotter on becoming an author

1.30 until 2pm  Paper Plus Stand Owens Foyer  signing books

2 until 2.30 I am busy being a Judge

2.30 until 3pm  Lower NZI At the prize giving for the competitions



y o u r       c h a l l e n g e:

Last week I invited you to come up with a challenge. Thanks for sending in so many good ideas.

I have picked challenges that Niamh sent in. She is aged 11 and goes to Selwyn House School in Christchurch. She sent in four challenges and I picked two to share. I loved these and want to try them too! I will send Niamh a copy of The Letterbox Cat as a thank you. I also especially loved Maddie’s challenge and might use her’s another time.

One: write your favourite word in a poem
rule —  it has to appear at least 3 times

Two: create a tree or flower of your own invention
rule – describe what it looks like or what it does in a poem

Paula’s tip: give your poem a sound check before you send it.


DEADLINE for your Niamh’s-Poem Challenge: Wednesday September 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 Niamh’s-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).

My favourite picture poems

Picture poems (ah yes, shape poems, concrete poetry!) are fun to do and it looks like you had fun with these. It was really hard choosing just a few to post. I was after a poem that looked good but that also offered something as you read it.

So I love the ones that sounded good or surprised me.

I am sending Ewen a notebook to write her poems in.

I am sending William a copy of my book the Letterbox Cat.




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Ella W, Year 7 aged 12  St. Peters School, Cambridge. (Paula: I love the slant of words like the wings)



Poppy R Aged 10 Year 6 Ilam school (Paula: I love the swirl of words!)



Madeline T  9 years old Year 5  Ilam Primary School (Paula: I love the words like apple peel!)




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Ben, I am an 11 year old Year seven at Saint Peter’s School (Paula: this poem flows just like a ball skimming through the air!)



Hayden P, age 10, year 6, and go to Ilam Primary School (Paula: I especially love the words that wrap the leaf up)


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Tessa A I am 13 years old, I go to Selwyn House School, Christchurch. (Paula: I love the way words make the shape and are like the bees inside!)


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By Ewen W aged 13, Year 8, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch (Paula: I had such fun reading this – it is a little hard to read with the squiggles like the mysterious house)


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William, Y3 St Andrew’s College (Paula: I love the windy trail of words on the page!)

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Harry, Y3 age 7, St Andrew’s College, Christchurch (Paula: I love the way the words make the shape and the poem is surprising)