Monthly Archives: June 2017

June Poetry Box Challenge: Snake and Lizard poems


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To celebrate the arrival of a new Snake and Lizard book by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop I challenged you to write Snake and Lizard poems. Gecko Press very kindly gave me a copy to give to one young poet.  Thank you!

I loved reading these! I really loved the slumbering mood in Phoebe‘s poem! How sometimes there is not much going on but they still the best of friends.


I really loved the wavy lines in Sina‘s poem and her bright similes that leapt into my eye! This poem sizzles when you read it out loud.


I really liked the little stories in Noor‘s two poems. The way friends might argue and like different things but still be best friends. Noor showed so beautifully how simple can work well in a poem.

Daniel‘s poem took me places because I thought it was going to have sad ending .. but  .. well … read it yourself! So yes  this poem had a bit of tension! I loved it!


Iona‘s poem had a simile that really struck  me – it is to do with cake ingredients. Read it and see how deliciously rich it is!

And Sophie’s poem made me laugh out loud because her imagination leaped and leapt as the snake hisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssed! Genius! Love the playful use of s sounds.

As you can imagine it was too hard to pick which poet to send the book, so I put the names in a hat and picked:  Phoebe


Joy Cowley sent this lovely letter to let you know how much she enjoyed your poems:


Dear poets,

These poems are are full of energy and feeling expressed in delicious words. I wanted to devour them like liquorice all sorts. Thank you for sharing them with me.

love, Joy Cowley




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Phoebe, Year 3, Lyttelton Primary School, 8 years old


Snake and lizard,

Lizard eyes as yellow as wrapping paper,
Through a hidden temple,

Snake eyes as green as lime,
From behind a wavy tower,

Their eyes lock,
A scaly lizard shape scurries,
Over the thick icy snow,

Pathways open,
Fences unlock,

The two worlds of snake and lizards have become one.


Sina A,  age 9, Fendalton Open Air School



Poem 1 Best friends
“No we’re not, no we’re not, no we’re not!”
“Yes we are, yes we are, yes we are!”
‘Let’s break the wall down.”
“No, No, No, No!”
“Let’s have some cake.”

Poem 2
Snake wants to be a centipede
Lizard wants to be a fire dragon
But to stay friends
Stay themselves
forever friends

Written by Noor, almost 6, Raumati School


What Do Friends Do

Snake slithered

So did lizard

Doing things that friends do.


Snake ate

Lizard’s mate

Is that what friends do?


In the end

They were still friends

That is what friends do.


Daniel, age 8, Year 4, Adventure School


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Iona, Year 4, Lyttelton Primary School, 8 years old

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Sophie,  Year 4, Lyttelton Primary School, 8 years old

Poetry Box June challenge: poems on writing poems went wildfire

My challenge to get you to write poems about writing poems went WILDFIRE ! I got so many in my email box. I have loved reading them all and it took ages and ages. If I didn’t write you a letter back I might have missed your email so let me know.

I got fabulous poems from classes – from Westmere School, from the Samoan Unit at Richmond Road School and from Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel.

What you showed me is poems can do anything.  There are no poem rules! Poetry is PLAY!

And when you read a poem you get to think and feel all kinds of things!

Thank you young poets. This is a record post because it was just too hard choosing. I had to leave heaps of poems I loved out because my blog would CRASH with a MOUNTAIN of amazing poems.


I am sending a copy of my book  The Letterbox Cat to Jimmy at Westmere School.



Daniel wrote his poem in the sand! (age 8, Year 4, Adventure School)


Writing Poems

Poems can be as BIG as
an elephant or as small
as a fly. Poems don’t have
to make any sense, they
don’t even need to rhyme.

By Marco age 9, Westmere School


The Poem About a Poem

Poems can erupt out of your mouth
like an exploding volcano.
Poems can make you drift away to sleep
like a cosy blanket.

By Charlie  age 9, Westemere School


The Poem Train

An idea finds the paper

Like a car finds the road.

The pencil

Dances across the page

Like a ballerina

On a stage.

The full stops are like train stops

Ending the ride

But starting a new one.

By: William Sherborne Age: 9 Year: 5, St Andrews College, Christchurch


What Poems Can DO

Poems can go through your head
Like a stampede
at full speed.
Like a worm wriggling
through a muddy hole.
Like a mole



By Jimmy age 10, Westmere School

Catch the Kite

The ideas fly
in the sky
with the Haast eagle.

They twitch and they turn
they tumble and learn.

They fall like blossom
into the arms of a possum.

Who brings them to me
on his bended knee.

and I write
the stretched out

Joshua 12 years old Medbury School




My pencil is going blunt
As I write down my ideas like a hurricane
Where will this poem go?
To a forest,
To a wonderland,
I will never know till I write it.
The word chain is getting started
My poem is making sense.
Finally, it’s coming together
I need to proof-read it
Reading it over and over again
Punctuation check has not been done
Taking my time
Hours have been used
I love the feeling of my tired fingers writing away.
My library chair getting uncomfortable.
My poem digs to my heart as quick as Usain Bolt runs the 100m sprint
But it’s

Sophie, age: 10, Selwyn House School


Poems make me want to…

Poems make me want to dance
And skip and jump and play
Poems make me want to sing
And read them every day

Writing them is like
Unfolding a mystery
And everything about them
Makes me feel free

Poems make me want to dance
And skip and jump and play
Poems make me want to sing
And read them every day

Poems make me want to laugh
And have a lot of fun
And I will always remember them
When the day is done

Nell, Age: 8, Year: Four, Homeschool



Poems can be funny like David walliams.
Poems can be sad like a depressed lad.
A poem could happy like a baby in a clean nappy.
Poems can be mad like your step dad.
Poems can be silly like a fish with arms.
Poems can be hairy like a dairy.
Poems can be evil like a vampire.
Poems can be boring and make you start snoring.
Poems can be annoying like pinata with no candy in it.
Poems can be violent like nine eleven.
Poems can be crazy like a lazy man made run a mile.

By Henry  age 10, Westmere School


Mind Blank

I am currently writing a poem
Well, I am trying to
I don’t think it’s working,
I am trying to write something completely original
Today that’s just not happening,
Hmm, maybe…
Beyond the horizon?
No, too dull
Oh, I know!
Feel the wind blow
Ugh, everyone’s used that
This is useless
I am absolutely, one hundred percent stuck

Megan, Year 6, age 10, St Andrew’s College


Some Poems

Some poems explode like the big bang.
Some poems crack like an egg shell.
Some poems slither out of my mouth like a person sliding down a water slide.
Some poems are as quiet as a library… shhhhhhhhh
Some poems are as tricky and confusing as 15,376 divided by 6.39.
Some poems help you as much as a girl helping an old lady across the road.
All poems are from around the world.
Some poems are as fast as a cheetah
or as slow
as a

By Renee C, age 10, Westmere School



Poems can be long,
Poems can be short.
Poems can be beautiful,
Poems can be bored.
Poems can be mad,
Poems can be glad.

By Layla age 9, Westmere School


The Best Poem

Poems pop playfully through my brain
like popcorn popping out of a plane.
Poems CRASH and MASH in my head
like a racing fire, spreading red.
Poems creep and peep on the page
like a rat sneaking out of its cage.

By Flynn W age 9, Westmere School

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Isabella, age 10, Westmere School


A Poem

A poem … can paint a scene in your head.

It makes you feel you’re in a world of paradise

A poem lights a fire deep inside you.

A poem changes a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Elijah Year 4, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


The Magic of a Poem

A poem can open a magical world for you, it can make you happy or sad.

Poems can rhyme, shock you, even make you say why, some leave you to laugh or cry.

A poem can make you like a snowflake, soft and light, it can make you someone running on the beach, happy and hot.

A poem can do so many things, but it can always do one thing.

It can always make you relax.


By Charlie  Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


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Jackson, age 10, Westmere School



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Ruby, age: 9, Selwyn House School



Poets are agile
in their own way
their hand slides
across the page
or keyboard
as a stream
of ideas
flow through
their heads
the poets work
waiting to be published
on the next website
or poetry magazine

Harry, age 10, St Andrew’s College




Pen glides across the page
Ideas pop in
More words across the page
A rhythm starts going
Rub out a line
Start over new
Read it
Check it
Good enough to get through
Sharpen up the pencil
Get a cup of water
Grip more onto the pencil
As it gets shorter
More words across the page
Add the finishing touches
Shut the book
Close the door
One more poem has been made

Hayden, age 11, St Andrew’s College



A Poem is a Living Thing

A poem is a waterfall
gushing, slushing
forever changing.
It runs
it leaps
it soars
it flies
it laughs
it cries.
A poem is a living thing.

By Isabel  age 10, Westmere School



A Poem Can

A poem can be as vicious as a terrifying tiger
or as beautiful as a butterfly fluttering by.
It can be as fast as a cheetah having a blast
or as slow as a snail sliding past.
A poem can twist
a poem can turn.
A poem can freeze
a poem can burn.
A poem can be anything in the world
as long as you use the right words.

By Jamie C age 10, Westmere School



Rhythm and Rhymes

Words coming out of my brain
goes around and around like a hurricane.
Verbs fly like they rage.
Verbs trapped in a cage
roar like
a lion.
Birds fly
like an
Light shines

By Kingston age 8, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School


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By Philipp, age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School

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By Alani age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School



Poems are tricky and
Poems are hard, but
Poems are nice like
my palm poems.

By Jada L age 9, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School


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Boh, age 10, Westmere School



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Charlie, age 9, Westmere School


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By Dante age 10, Samoan Unit, Richmond Road School



The Life of You and Me

Poems are swirling around my head like a hurricane.
Poems are tricky
Poems are hard,
They sometimes go a little bit fast.
Poems are sometimes scary
or sometimes funny.
They can make you say words that are verbs.
My life is a crime every day.
My poems come out of my mouth the same way.

By Nani age 10, Samoan Unit Westmere School


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Stina, Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


A Poem

A poem can make you feel like a magic dolphin playing and splashing.

It will take you in to wonderland

Or slide you down a rainbow.

A poem can open the door or reality, it will take you into the world of beyond.

It will smile at you when you read it.

It can toss you up into the clouds and draw a pattern in your head.

It can show you your own world and it will tell you your own story.


Julia Year 4, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel


A poem can open a window in your mind that leads you into a new magical new world.

A poem makes you feel as light as a snow white feather, drifting in the wind.

A poem gives you inspiration to do what you want to do.

A poem can remind you of a special memory buried deep down inside of you.

A poem can show you that anything is possible if you try hard enough.

Poems are capable of so many things…

By Ellie  Year 5, Te Rerenga School in The Coromandel

Gecko Press are starting the Curiously Good Book Club – four days left on their Pledge Me campaign to meet the target

I love Gecko Books and think this is such a great idea I am going to support it with a pledge. Time is running out but if you also love the idea (see below) then you might be able to help too. You can give $10 because it all adds up.You can get rewards. Time is running out as they only have four days to reach their target!


Reading books as a young girl shaped me – and set me on a trail of wonderful experiences and discoveries as I grew into adult me.

Reading books matters so very very much. (especially poetry!!)

Go here to pledge me page.

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What is the Curiously Good Book Club?

We want to create a digital and real life community where people can share knowledge about great books for children (not just our books) and find creative ways to encourage children to love to read. The Curiously Good Book Club will include activities for kids, real people events and rich digital experience.

We would love to have storytelling sessions at the beach; workshops on how to be a good reader-alouder; give every child a tiny reading journal and I’m a Curiously Good Reader badge.

We want to collaborate with anyone and everyone, and to be loud about the joy and benefits of being a good reader.

Because one good book can kickstart every child into a lifetime love of reading.


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A sad loss: John McIntyre champion of children’s books in New Zealand RIP



I was shocked and saddened to get this news. All of us in the children’s book world have much to mourn at the news of John’s death. He has flagged New Zealand books (and from across the globe) with such enthusiasm and expertise – in his vibrant and vital bookstore (with is wife Ruth), The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington, and in regular children’s book reviews with Kathryn Ryan on National Radio. His infectious love of books, and his support of New Zealand authors was tremendous. He will be sorely missed.

My thoughts and love go out to Ruth, family, friends and our children’s book communities.


Interview with Kathryn Ryan on National Radio a few weeks ago.

Every second Friday for 15 years, children’s bookseller John McIntyre has discussed the latest releases for children on RNZ.

But don’t call him a reviewer – “I’m a cheerleader”.

Two June Challenges: Poetry parcels and Joy Cowley’s Snake and Lizard

Welcome young poetry fans  – I am so so so so so busy this year I am a day late. I am thinking hard and writing hard about what poetry can do.  So that inspired my first challenge.


Challenge One:


Poems can do and play and puzzle with so many things.

Poems can sound as good as a song.

Poems can build lists and make pictures grow in your head.

Poems can whizz or go slow.

They might surprise or soothe or shock or challenge you. You might laugh

or frown or cry as you read.

They can be short or long like a letter or a huge birthday parcel.


Your challenge is to write a poem about:     Poetry – writing poems or reading poems .


What are poems like to you? What do you love about poems?

What do they remind you of? Where do you read them or write them?

Find some good VERBS for what a poem DOES.

Find some sizzling SIMILES.


Send to by 26th JUNE. I will post some favourites on JUNE 30th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

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

IMPORTANT: Put POEM POETRY challenge in the subject line of the email please.



Challenge Two



I am a HUGE fan of Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop and I especially love their Snake and Lizard books.


So on a very wet Sunday afternoon I gobbled up the new one: Helper and Helper.


Gavin’s illustrations are sheer beauty.

Joy’s stories are warm and wise and witty. Her sentences are like clear shiny streams.


Snake and Lizard are full to the brim with life and show us the power of friendship. Being friends is bumps and hills and new days and arguments and listening and kindness and discoveries.

When I read these stories I fill with warmth and good feelings and just want to write poems or even give stories a go.


a n o t h e r   c h a l l e n g e

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these stories so much I am challenging you to write a ‘Snake and Lizard’ poem (You can do more than one!). Read the book first to get inspired by the characters. Make up what happens. It can be something very small and curious.

I have the book to give to one young poet thanks to GECKO PRESS.


 Send to by 26th JUNE. I will post some favourites on JUNE 30th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

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

IMPORTANT:  Put SNAKE and LIZARD challenge in the subject line of the email please.