Monthly Archives: August 2015

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.




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!


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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.


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