Monthly Archives: August 2015

My Favourite busy busy busy busy poems and a challenge for you hidden in the post

I was so busy reading all your busy poems it took AGES!

Some of my favourite poems didn’t use rhyme but used strong detail to make a busy picture grow in my head as I read.

I especially loved the poems that surprised me with a line or an ending or the subject chosen. I loved going into the busy-ness of bees and ants. Some poems are funny and some are thoughtful. Some are so imaginative!

A poem tip: Lots of poems used rhyme for this challenge and when you use rhyme unless you are writing a nonsense poem make sure your rhyme fits the meaning. Sometimes it is like the rhyme is in charge of the poem and not the poet.

But sometimes rhyme is a shining star in a poem. It might be hiding on lines and it might be tricky nearly-sounding rhyme. It might be Dr Seussy rhyme that fits the topic and the meaning of the poem.


Here are just some of my favourites out of the huge truckload that arrived! Just becuase i didn’t choose your poem did not mean I didn’t like it as my letter will have shown.

It was really tough choosing a poet to send a book to but the ant poem really stuck with me. So I am sending Vivien a copy of The Letterbox Cat. Check out her poem.

Message for Finn: Did you know my partner Michael Hight does beehive paintings? He is famous for them!

A  c h a l l e n g e:  One way to get to be a better poet is to read poems others write! That’s what I do. I never stop reading poems by other adults and children. Tell me which your favourite poem is here and why and  add a comment to this post. If I get at least ten comments, I have one copy of The Letterbox Cat for my favourite comment. Please add your age, year and school. Email me if you have trouble posting it.


Our Busy Family
Our busy family
Bizz bizz bizz
Busy like
A bizzerator family
My family
Has 800 bizzerators

 Jamie F 6 years old. Year 2. Ilam School


Busy Bees

Bees making honeycomb
At rapid fire speed


Bees hurriedly warding off a bear


Queen bee giving orders

Busy artist paints them

Finn P Ilam School, Christchurch, Year 4



The cornfield
is as gold as the sun
it waves
like they are
saying goodbye
I lie down
in the sunlight
with birds singing
around me
the birds are busy
the soldiers are busy
except me
Vesper W Age: 6  Year 2  Ilam School, Christchurch


Busy Busy Busy

Busy Busy Busy
As busy as bees
Working till the house shimmers like diamonds
Splish splash splosh
Goes the mop on the floor
It’s spick and span
But soon it will get dirty
So we will have to clean again.
Oskar R aged 7, Year 2, Ilam School



Busy / ysub

Busy, the bees,
working in the busy tree,
Ysub, the busy ants work in the busy hole.
Busy, the busy birds work to make a nest.
Ysub, the busy knights are getting ready for war.
Busy, the busy penguins are searching for food.
Ysub, the busy builders are making buildings, busy.

Ronnie L, year 3, age 8, Ilam Primary School



The ant hill

Citizens hurry to bring their
queen winter supplies.
Back and forth, back and forth.

Their world is extremely
different from our own.
it builds up faster and
more efficiently.

Adapting to the
ever-changing environment.
A fast world inside a slow one.

This society will
survive longer much
longer than ours.

Vivien Silver- Hessey age 10 Paparoa Street School


Busy gets very busy and often very clumsy
She bumps and stubs her toe
And scavengers for food very like a slowpoke.
Scurrying the street and bumping into folks
Jumps in her grey car
Causing a traffic jam
And drives into a dam.
A crowd of fluffy lambs
Come to the scene
At least she’s just a friend
My crazy friend BUSY!
By Alice Aged 11, Paparoa Street School


Hermoine being busy

Hermoine was busy

because she got a time turner first term that’s why she went two places at once. Professor McGonagall gave it to her because she signed up for all the lessons last year. At the end of the year she

needed it for a very important task. To save Sirius, Harry’s godfather from the dementers’ kiss. They managed to save him on Buckbeak, Hagrid’s hippogriff. They had to save him too because his head was going to be chopped off. Sirius flew away on Buckbeak to a cave.

Lily  Y2, Age 6, Paekakariki School
School time

Shining bright into my eyes the sun rises.

Yawning I get out of bed.

The switch flicks on then suddenly my brain starts working.  School.

Throwing on my uniform I glance at my watch 7:10am.

Multi tasking, scoffing down Weet-bix and putting on my shoes.

Rushing the toothbrush along my molars scraping them clean.

My body finds the warmth of my jacket as I sling on my school bag and shout my goodbyes.

Thud! thud! Clanking, heavy shoes on the new footpath.

Running for the bus, skidding to a stop.

The bus slows and the well oiled doors slide open.

Jasper, St Peter’s School, Cambridge


Busy Me

Busy Busy me waiting by the oven

checking the time again and again

Busy Busy me making a pie

no time to taste it, put it up high

Busy Busy me time to make a pie

shoo away the pesky fly

Lara Lamont Y7, Age 11, St Peters School


The Ocean Of People

Bang! Whack! You trip, and you fall,

You’re lost in a crowd, as you aren’t very tall,

You’re late, and you’re lost, and it’s not going well,

You’re in need of a map but there’s no time to dwell,

Your lace is untied, you can’t find the train station,

You stand squished in queue in terrible frustration,

When you finally get to the front of the line,

You look at the clock and it’s quarter past nine,

It’s all too much, you need to go home,

You tired, you’ve had too much of a roam,

So off you slope through the bustling crowd,

Off to a place, you know won’t be loud.

Mimi, St Peter’s School, Cambridge



The hurry,
The rush,
You walk,
Not noticing what is going on,

You suddenly stop,
You see what you are missing,
Yet you start to walk fast again,
You rush,
You hustle,
You stay what you always are,

Caitlin M 10 years old St Andrew’s College, Preparatory

Gemma loves Dappled Annie and her local library


Gemma has tried two challenges I have had on the go.  I love her book review and her library poem so I am sending her a copy of A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children.

I had asked you all to write a poem about your favourite library and to write book reviews of NZ books. I am still happy for you to review NZ books (any genre) or to write poems about your favourite library.

Gemma has written a review of one of my favourite Junior Fiction books of 2014: Mary McCallum’s Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press).

Coincidentally another of my favourites was Barbara Else‘s The Volume of Possible Endings (Gecko Press) and Gemma reviewed the first book in the series here.  I love both of these authors because they have extraordinary imaginations and can write really really well.

Gemma goes to Adventure School In Whitby and is in Y5 and aged 9.




I really like the way Gemma’s Poirirua Library poem is like a song. The commas in the middle of the lines help show how it is to be sung. I think Porirua Library is very cool too.  I did an event there last year and enjoyed meeting the fabulous librarian, Bee. Gemma and her brother Daniel are reading in the photos below.


Porirua Library

(To the tune of Count on Me by Bruno Mars)

Oh uh-huh…
If you ever find yourself near Porirua Library
Come on in they’d love, to see you
If you ever find yourself lost for a book just like me
The librarians there, will guide you

Find all the best stories
‘Coz Bee is there to help you when you choose

At Porirua Library, all the kids like me
Will be there
And every holidays
There’s a challenge to do that is so cool
Must be there
‘Cause that’s what library friends love to do
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

If you’re clapping and you’re cheering
On a cushion with your ukulele

We’ll sing the songs beside you
And if you ever get the chance to come and hear Sally read
I know she will, inspire you

Find out what’s exciting
When we go to our favourite library

At Porirua Library, you’ll see kids like me
On comfy chairs
And I know in the summer
There’s a festival that is so cool
Must be there
‘Cause that’s what Porirua kids all do
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

Look at the story telling chair

And you will see it’s awesome and so cool
You know…

At Porirua Library, if you’re someone like me
You’ll be there
And whatever you are into
Puzzles, books, movies, or shows to please
It’s free there
‘Coz that’s what our librarians do for you
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

Porirua Library is always there for you


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Here is the fabulous Bee Trudgeon!


… and Sally Warburton



t h a n k y o u      G e m m a !



Poetry Bonanza Monday: a glow, a list, a challenge challenge

Letterbox Cat    Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat

Yes I am still glowing with my Children’s Choice win. I don’t know if a poetry book has ever won this before so it is very special. It shows NZ that children love poetry! Yeah!


t     h     a     n     k     y     o     u          x    x     x     x     o     x     x     x     x


This week is a big catch-up week before I get back to writing next week on new projects. So exciting! My list of jobs to do is SO long. I wasn’t going to post a challenge for you this week but came up with an idea for one anyway! See below.

This week I will post some of my favourite poems from The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition. I need to type them out so will take me a few days.

I will show you some new Gecko books.

I will post some cool poems from Papatoetoe Intermediate.

I will give a copy of the Treasury to one young poet today.


Here is a challenge for you: 

Make up the poetry challenge for me to post on Monday that is suitable for children from Y1 to Y8.


DEADLINE for your Make Up a Challenge: Friday August 21st

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 make up a challenge.

I will choose one to post on Monday August 24th as my Monday challenge and have a book for the poet I pick.



The Gallipoli Exhibition at Te Papa is so very good – and here’s why

Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War    (on at Te Papa)

This was on my must-do list when I was in Wellington but I didn’t realise the queue-wait would be SO long.  I came back later but didn’t have as long as I would have liked because i had to catch my plane home, so now I want to go back. I had NO idea what was in this show. It took me by surprise. I didn’t make any notes. I didn’t have so much time. But I experienced something very deep. I do hope I get to go back, so I can write more. On the web site it suggests it is suitable for Y4 upwards


This is part of what I have loved about visiting the show:

It is free – what a gift to New Zealand.

You walk into the first room and you meet an huge, life-like soldier. You can see the hairs on his arm. It makes the hairs on your arm stand on end. He is larger than life but he is life. But he is also death. He is the scale of war. The poor excuse of war. You can’t miss him. It is not like peering at a tiny old photo or facts and figures. War is immense how ever you look at it.

Looking at this towering soldier (he almost reaches the roof),  I began to think of a mother’s love and a father’s love (on both sides, on all sides of war). That’s what I thought of to at the start.

I was drawn to the uniform on a stand. It was like a soldier (normal size) was standing in the room but there was no body in it. I found this so very powerful. Sad. Moving. It was like every soldier that had ever been, that is, and that will be, was stepping into those clothes. Inside the uniform were hopes and dreams and regret. Fear and trembling. Incomprehension. All these things.

I saw weapons. Again it is as though stories clung to each one.

I saw film clips. I heard words as I looked at the next towering solder and then the next and then next. Six rooms in total.

What caught me. What stopped me. Was the look on the faces of the giant soldiers. I was pulled in to something that felt real. In its made-up-ness by the skill of Weta Workshop. Yes I have read numerous books on Gallipoli that have made me feel so much. But just to stand by this immense soldier – I couldn’t look away. These were men. Like pawns on the battlefield. I could feel the hunger and the loss and the fear as never before. The waste.

I listened to the last letter home by a soldier in the little dug out.

I walked down the tunnel with the ground swaying and the pound of gunfire.

I stood by the weeping nurse and I looked into the little rooms of the hospital ship. Each person and each thing a story.


This show isn’t just for your eyes and ears. It is for every bit of you. It takes you into war and it does that by taking you to the soldier. The man with the beating heart and the lice and the homesickness and the heat and disease and wounds and despair. On both sides. On any side.

These men wanted to make the world a better place fort their children. There are still people who want this. No hunger no war no pollution no greed.

I sat waiting for my daughter to come out and I saw a different show. The show of looks on faces as people left through the exit door.  This exhibtion affects you. It gives you something to think about and take away with you. Not everything does this.

Thank you Te Papa, Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson and all those who worked on this, who contributed to it. This is a gift.


photo 3 photo 1 photo 2

photo 4






Photos from the Awards

Thanks for all the lovely messages. 

I hardly slept a wink as I am not used to the city noises. It’s true! The city never sleeps. Always someone doing something. Cars buses rubbish bins laughter sirens chat chat chatting. I can’t wait to get out and go roaming. A day roaming with my daughter. 

Here are a few photos from last night. I am still smiling that children voted for poetry! Thank you so much. Everyone was saying how wonderful it was that children love poetry!  Yeah!

Here I am with Myles Lawford the illustrator and Lynette Evans, the Publisher (Scholastic). 

The winners. I am standing next to the extraordinary Jenny Cooper. She did the Treasury but last night she deservedly won Best Picture Book with Glyn Harper for Jim’s Letters. Can’t see supreme winner Mandy Hager!?!


That’s Lynette  with winner Donovan Bixley.  
Government House sparkles


Letterbox Cat wins Children Choice


Thank you so much all of you voted for our book. 

Thanks lovely Scholastic. Thanks Penny Lynette Frith Sofia. Thanks Myles for the sparkling illustrations. 

Thanks Dana Brown for the Dr Seussy design.

I was gobsmacked that you voted it in as a finalist. It’s the bee’s knees it’s won. 

So thank you

And to all the children teachers parents and librarians who sage and love this book. 

Wow. I am doing a poetry dance

Xxxxxxxxc from Paula

dear young poetry fans

Tomorrow I am off to the Children’s Book Awards in Wellington so I have just realised it will be too hard to post the busy poems on Friday. i will do that one day next week.

I have also decided not to post a challenge on Monday as I need to have a wee break. I have worked nonstop since day one of Term 4 in schools and doing heaps of Skype sessions as well as everything else.

I will post some favourite poems from the Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition next week!



I need to recharge my poetry batteries!

So I am going to switch off my computer and find a nice cosy corner and have a rest! Read a book. Dream a little.

But I will let you know what happens at the awards tomorrow.


Thought you might like to see our cats (Check out my ‘Cat Nap’ poem in The Letterbox Cat!)

Meet Charlie:


Meet Agile:






The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition (2015): The results

The NZ Book Council has supported this competition for the past two years (I am so grateful for their generosity – they do admin, fly me to the school, get me a hire car and accommodation!), so it was only fitting the CEO, Catriona Ferguson, helped me judge it.  In fact this time I decided the final choice was up to her. But we were in complete agreement when it came to the winners and a handful of Highly Recommended schools because they really stood out in terms of variety and quality.

Catriona came out to my house in the country and we buried our noses in fabulous poems. Every school’s selection had a standout poem or two, a poem that crept in your pockets and under your skin because it was so good you knew it was going to stay with you. That blew me away! So bravo New Zealand schools.

We loved schools that surprised us, that used language that made us laugh or gasp or just say ‘wow!’. There were a lot of ANZAC poems, weather poems and family poems. The best of these used great detail, sounded good, mattered to us. These poems took us right into the heart of  war, or family or the weather. Sometimes a poem can create a strong mood with just a few words. That is what words can do!

We loved the way poems can do and be anything. You can tell when a child has really enjoyed doing a piece of writing and feels proud of it. It shows.

Some schools just sent in one poem so even though that poem might have been great, we were after a submission of 12 poems.


Thank you so much teachers and students for sending in the poems. I know it is hard when you do so much work and you don’t get picked. But just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean your writing wasn’t liked and valued. For me the most important, the most wonderful thing, is the writing of the poem.

I am going to post a few of my favourite poems from ALL the entries this week. Watch this space! Keep writing poems! Do keep trying my challenges every Monday. I posted one this morning.


And a HUGE thank you the NZ Book Council Council, especially Catriona and Lynette. You are poetry stars!

Teachers, let me know if you have done an exciting poetry project in your class. I might be able to share it with the rest of New Zealand!




The Results   (C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s ! )



The Winner:  St Cuthbert’s School

Highly Recommended: Good Shepherd School and Hauraki School


North island

Ormond School, Gisborne

Highly Recommended: West End School and Carnot School in Palmerston North


South Island

The Winner:  Port Chalmers School, Dunedin

Highly Recommended: Arrowtown Primary School and Russley School, Christchurch



Here are a few poems from the winning schools:


My Seed Pod Poem

Steep hills create a canoe

Wide dips form a slide

Brown curves build a roller coaster

The dark mahogany ladder

leads to the head of a hissing snake

Sara, Age 11, Year 6, St Cuthbert’s School


Rock ‘n’ Roll

Bam! The wheels hit the ground,

I jump onto my aqua-blue skateboard.

Careful I say to myself,

Just go straightforward.

I roll down the pathway,

With great speed.

My wheels roll on,

In the boiling heat.

I wake with excitement the next morning,

Draped mist in the sky.

A curtain of cold cloud won’t stop me,

My wheels roll on by.

I am speeding like a jet,

That’s what I have been told.

People watch in amazement,

As they see me rock ‘n’ roll.

Georgia, Y5, Age 9, St Cuthbert’s College





am a leafy, lovely tree


am a beautiful tree

staying on the grass


am brownish, yellowish

reddish and greenish


am a smooth tree


can feel the puffy clouds

lying on me


want to see

the marshmallowy clouds.

Ashlynne, Year 2, Age 6 Ormond School


The Christmas Tree


felt the cold breeze


felt like it was

a huge person


it blew on me


am a Christmas tree


am shiny

like gold

Noah Y3 Age 7 Ormond School



Autumn Leaves

Like little raindrops

falling off the trees,

floating to the ground.


When you walk in the leaves

the brown leaves crunch

beneath your feet.

Ashieka Brasell-Jagger Y2, Age 6, Port Chalmers School


Autumn Discovery

The leaf swishes and sways down to the

ground trying to be the first one.

It’s warm to the touch and red like fire.

The veins fade as the sun burns.

The spiny edges protect it from predators.

It lies dead as other leaves fall.

It rustles in the wind.

The bent stalk is like an umbrella handle.

Autumn has changed the weather to a dark

and cool place.

One sweep and a huge pile is gone.

One more sweep and all signs of life

have vanished.

Only the old and rugged branches of the tree

stand by.

Louie Y4, Age 8 Port Chalmers School






Poetry Bonanza Monday: Thanks to two Nelson girls a new challenge, and countdown for the Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition results!

I am off to Wellington this week for the Children’s Book Awards. So exciting! I don’t mind about winning and losing. I enjoy meeting other authors and sharing a celebration of great writing and publishing. So a big thanks to Scholastic for publishing The Letterbox Cat.

I spent last week reading the poems sent in for The Fourth Fabulous Poetry Competition. I am about to post the results this morning!


* * * * * *           * * * * *        * * * * *


Two Nelson girls, Isabelle and Evie, were so taken with The Letterbox Cat, (their Mum, the very talented Rachael Craw tweeted about it!) I gave them a weekend challenge to make their own fabulous picture poems. They were inspired by the ones I did for the book. It made my weekend to get these back. I call them picture poems but you can call them shape poems or concrete poetry. I now feel inspired to do a dog one and more food ones! Thank you.

A picture poem is when you use words to make a picture on the page.

I am going to post what they did and two of mine from the book because I am challenging you to do your own picture poem.

(I am busy doing this with schools in different ways as I am hard at work making new picture poems myself.)


Three top tips:

* You can use words to make an outline of something. Put the words close together so you can rub out the pencil outline and see the shape just with the words.

*You can use words to fill the pencil outline. Make sure you go right to the line so when you rub out the outline you can see the shape. The words can go in any direction.

*Picture poems should sound good too as it is the perfect time and place to play with words.


SCAN your poem and send to me. Check out some of mine in The Letterbox Cat.


DEADLINE for your Picture-Poem Challenge: Wednesday August 19th

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 Picture-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).




photo 1 photo 2


One very fabulous home poem

After posting so many poems to celebrate Gecko Press’s birthday, I set myself a challenge to pick just one HOME poem that hooked me.

Ben‘s stuck with me all week. I love the detail. I also love the way it becomes a quake story. I love the dog barking. This home is a family home. It is precious and it is fragile and it is loved.

I adored reading it. Thank you Ben. I will pop a book in the post for you and send to your school.




What I See

My dog barking, everyone loves

it. My house built in

1918. My windows, some old

and the other ones new.

My house, my family and

everyone in it. They love

the dog, Abby barking. They

built the house in 19-

something. They sometimes crack, but

the new ones do not.

I’d love to save my

dog. I’d love my house

to be new. But the

windows will crack, and the

house will crack in quakes.

I’d fix my dog, make

the house new. I’d fix

my windows. I’d make sure

it did not break.


by Ben, Fendalton School Open Air School, Christchurch