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)

Some of my favourite poems from The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition and a hidden challenge for you


c   o   n   g    r   a   t   u   l   a   t   i   o   n   s  !

So many fabulous poems came in for this i want to post a small collection of some of my favourites. It was hard to choose as I had so many.

What I love is the way a poem can surprise you. You know you want to go back and read it again. You know eyes and ears have been hard at work.

Congratulations young poets. You have done a fine job. I do hope you try some of my Monday challenges in term time.

A challenge for you all: If I get 30 comments on this post, I will pick one child to send a copy of A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children. Tell me which poem you love and why. Extra points if you pick one that is not from your school!  Tell me your age, year and name of school and teacher’s email. I have an copy of Dear Heart: 150 NZ Love Poems for an adult who comments on a poem.



I am a cunning panther

Black as pitch black night


I leap quite majestically

I silently stalk my prey


I spring up to scale large trees

I growl like a deadly beast


As I am a cunning black panther

Black as pitch black night

Quin aged 10, Year 6, Hauraki School


Bright Green

Prickly, wet grass

yummy, juicy grapes

wobbly, slimy seaweed

bumpy, hard broccoli

Lincoln, Y2, Age 6, Barton Rural School



Big scary creature of the night

eagle like wings and fur not light

big scary creature of the night

claws like razors teeth like knives.

Big scary creature of the night

howling out my name

big scary creature of the night

please tell me you are tame.

Lucas, Y5, Age 9, Good Shepherd School



The shimmering sun.

The quailing wind smashes me.

The sand is so soft.

Logan, Y5, Age 8, Good Shepherd School


Night is a Fright

All the shadows on the wall make me fall, fall, fall

All the spooky sounds make me scramble

slip and fall

I try to think about my love of ponies

Bur it doesn’t help

I listen to my Mum and dad drink Sprite

oh how fizzy “oooo” what’s that sound? “ahhh”

I think only think night gives me a fright!

Jemima, Y2, Age 6, Good Shepherd School


The Night Sky

the stars glisten like Lake Tekapo

with the sun on it

the stars are shiny like black ice

white, like paper from the Bible


stars shoot through the sky

like rockets

Alex, Y6, age 10, Russley School


My Grandad

My grandad is as tall as a giraffe

My grandad is as friendly as a monkey

He wears blue glasses

like me

He used to sew up shirts in the air force

Now he carefully sews up my teddy bears

Josh, Y4, age 8, Russley School



She is as happy as a beautiful bright fish


She looks interested when she is watching

Chinese news


She helps me when I am scared

of the dark


She is a Chinese teacher

and artist


She draws flowers




and fire-breathing dragons

Sophia Y4, age 8, Russley School


Black Beard Dad

One time my dad caught a leaf

instead of a fish


He runs

a bit like Usain Bolt


He is a geologist

he blows up rocks


He wears a soft checked shirt


and has fillings between his teeth

like silver stars

Fergus Y3, age 7, Russley School



Plink, plonk, plink there is the rain

Plink, plonk, plink there it is again

Rain splashes on the roof of my house

like little girls doing tap

pitter, patter, pitter, patter

like a possum scampering

across our roof.

Meg Y3, Age 7, Carncot School


The Raging Bull

The ocean is an angry bull

Charging to the water’s edge

Pounding the seabed with its powerful horns

As the day goes on, he roars and roars

Carrying away sticks and stones


Licking his greasy hooves

The storm passes through

He sits with his head hung low

Calm and still

Waiting for the wind to blow and for the sky to turn grey

Sophie, Y6, Age 11, Carncot School



There is a giant monster in my house

Searching and perching on my couch

Munching and crunching on my favourite snacks

He hears the floor crack and is tempted to look  back

I run upstairs, knock my head

Only to find another monster in my bed

Antoinette, Y6, age 11, Carncot School


Winter Is Here

Icing sugar is falling from a crying cloud.

White messages are falling from the sky.

White owls in the sky are dropping their feathers.

Angels are losing teeth and are dropping them.

Little girls have frozen wands,

they are making it snow.

Sabina Y3, Age 7 Arrowtown School


Mapua Estuary

Where the shy hermit crabs scutter away from prying hands,

Where the nimble swallows flutter while chirping their careless songs.

Where the old boats gently bob like nodding heads,

Where the flapping flags cast a jittering shadow.

Where moorings fight an endless struggle against the tide,

Where live music drifts around crimson pohutukawa.

Where an army of pines sway in chorus with the rolling breeze,

Where seagulls clutter the skies scaring away the gently peace.

Where mud flats offer a feast to the restless oyster catchers,

Where driftwood quietly slips away, away to another faraway land.

Hamish, Y8, age 12, Arrowtown School


Winter River

Pebbles line the riverbed,

The bare willows lie above,

Riverweed starts to freeze,

Dead leaves rustle in the wind.


The bare willows lie above,

Sparrows fly overhead,

Dead leaves rustle in the wind,

With the crisp smell of the air.


Sparrows fly overhead,

Riverweed starts to freeze,

With the crisp smell of the air,

Pebbles line the riverbed.

Sarah Y8, age 12, Arrowtown school


Chocolate, a musical sensation

I tear open the purple wrapper

with a satisfying rip!

The taste is soothing and mellow

like smooth jazz,

an orchestra of flavours on my tongue.

It fills me with addictive adrenaline,

once I start I cannot stop,

a drum solo in my mouth.

My taste buds explode

all the flavours in harmony,

I give in and admit defeat.

Chocolate is …

the ultimate beat.

Paddy-Kees Y8, age 12, Arrowtown School


Rain Guardian

If I could control the rain

I would be called the Rain Guardian

I would go to places like Egypt, Africa and Iran

And water the crops making them come to life

I would donate water for dying children and people

I can help the Earth become a better place

I can heal the hearts and souls of people in the world


Anna Y6 Age 10, Fairburn School, South Auckland


Lonely Fox

Rain falling

leaves tumbling

fox squeaks

bush rumbling

water leaks

bees buzzing

fox drinks

spots a lynx


best friends

will never end.

Clara age 8, Ilam School



There is a boy waiting on  a fence.

Waiting, just waiting

for his father to come home.

There is a woman looking out a window down a gravel road


Waiting for her lover to come home,

home from the horrible battlefield


There is a mother with wrinkles of age painted on her face

sitting on a porch rocking back and forth, waiting.

Waiting for a child to come home.

She waits for the horror to end.


Waiting just waiting.


For a son,

a husband,

a father,

a man.

Waiting, just waiting

for a loved one to come home.

Jackson, Y8, age 12, Chisnallwood Intermediate, Christchurch















Paptoetoe Intermediate in South Auckland are a whizz at picture poems

I had two days at this school recently working with two groups of children. We explored how to use imagination, how to use ears and eyes and how to write from what you know and what you don’t know.

We started with a two-hour double group workshop that was magnificent. Lots of shared ideas as we made up poems together.

Here are some of the poems that come out of our workshops. There are some terrific picture poems and then some terrific regular poems. I adore the way Jade played with her lines. The words on the ends of her lines are outstanding! The picture poems are so good. Perhaps they will inspire other classes to try doing one. The students worked really hard on these. Fun to read out loud too! Eyes and ears were hard at work in all the poems.



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Cape Reinga

Sun sizzling


rocky cliffs high

waves converging ahead

a light house standing bright

howling winds


paper flies

smells waft toward

mystic hillsides

Artic drinks cold


a new journey



the horizon.





Burning sun

ocean views

palm trees swaying

left and right,

the smell


greasy pork

crunchy skin




America (Los Angeles)

Cabs hooting loud

shopping on 5th Avenue

tourists everywhere

flashing cmaeras

touchdowns, home runs, 3 pointers

skyscrapers taller than normal

celebrities hiding from paparazzi

dangerous drivers

car chases

oversized food, priceless experience

bumpy plane ride

fresh air.



Where My Nana Lies

White crosses everywhere

curvy shaped stones

in thousands of rows

brown pine cones

skinny twigs

flowers coloured like rainbows

solid grey stones

fresh cut grass

wafts into my nose

dark rocky dirt

feelings hurt

butterflies mutter around

speeding cars I see

white and gold embroidery

many rest in peace.



Old Home

Under the speckled trees

the siblings lie

listening to

sparrows fly by.

The smell of

freshly cut grass

fills the air.

While Dad mows the lawn

Mum watches us.

Cousins jumping

on the trampoline

squealing with delight.




saying thank you

There are many ways to say thank you. Sometimes I get cards in the mail and sometimes I get very lovely emails. In this busy busy world I still think it is important and lovely to say thank you.

It is something I try to do.

I really appreciate it when children thank me for a book I sent. But some children thank me for picking their poems or just for giving feedback when I didn’t pick their poems. That is pretty special!


I always feel like thanking teachers and Principals who work so hard in schools trying to make school a fabulous place to be. Such good ideas. Such hard work.

I just wanted to share this card I got by email as it felt very very special. I loved visiting Matarau School and doing Skype sessions. Amy and Brendan gave me permission to post this thank-you poem. It really moved me that they took the time to do this and to do it so creatively! Thank you so very much.