Monthly Archives: August 2017

Some of my favourite list poems from a bonanza challenge – wow!

This was a record BREAKING POEM arrival in my email box -the most popular challenge this year.

I loved reading ALL the poems because you showed me that list poems can do anything. You were so inventive and you used your eyes and ears well.

I am sending a copy of The Letter Box Cat to Ameer.




A list to make a treehouse

Wood from the digger
A tree from the other side of town
Some T.L.C.
Carpet of the red and blue
A shelf from Dad
Pillows from Mum

Aine, age 9, Fendalton Open Air School, Christchurch


A List For A Lonely Turtle

Sea lettuce.
Juicy leaves.
Vet checks.
7 safe places.
A scattery pond.
A place to sleep.
Things that cheer her/him up.

Ameer  Ilam Primary School Age : 6


A List for Stationery

Stationery is a wild thing. It does what it wants. If you don’t let it, it scribbles everywhere so I made it a list to calm it down:

A Pencil Case for its home
A couple more pencils for friends
Some paper for keeping them busy

They loved it because they wanted a home and some friends, so they cuddled at night and sung at day.

Maia, age 8, Ilam School, Christchurch


Challenge List for a Tiger

Sharpening my broken claws

Pouncing angrily

Stomping anxiously

Bumpy orange fur

Roaring into darkness

Glaring rudely at a deer

Waiting hungrily

Running ferociously

Lucy  8 Years Old Fendalton Open Air School,


A List for a Wizard’s Sleeve

Weaving forth and back,
stitching, one robe,
swish-swish over arm
patterns of swirling stars,
fabric of flowing satin,
open jar, open sleeve,
things in there,
acrid, bubbling, split on sleeve ,
sleeve waving, wand waving,
sleeve ripping, swords waving,
crackling, burning a on a stake.

Luca Fear-Ross Year 6, age 11, Thorrington School


A List of Endangered Animals and Their Needs

Lost Panda – Bamboo
Bold Eagle – A Mountain
Blind Cat – Love
Grey Elephant – Security
Lonely Dog – Someone Nice
Striped Tiger – Food
Puzzled Penguin – Help
Terrified Seal – Peace
Long Giraffe- To be Shorter

Jamie  8 years ILam School



A list for a Fairy

A bottle of laughter;
A bag of glitter;
A spell for frogs;
The fluttering fairy wings;
The Queen’s command;
The higgity piggity road;
The old witch’s shop;
The slime from a slug;
The burp from a frog;
The dew drop from a spider’s web;
The lollypop from an elf;
A garden full of flowers.

Violetta Age: 8 Fendalton Open Air School




Stormy Days.

Jayashri  Age: 10 Ilam School


A list for a lonely hat

Loud music
Someone to wear him
A floaty feather
A delicate ribbon
Some autumn weather
A strong breeze
Silky fabric
A warm closet

By Maia-Sophia Age:7 School: Ilam



The List of the Universe
The Villages,
The Towns,
The Cities,
The Countries,
The Continents,
The World,
The Moon,
The Sun,
The Solar System,
The Universe.
Who circles who?
We think that we are the centre.
We think,
That the sun revolves around us,
We trust that it will go at night
And we trust that it will be back in the morning.
But no,
We move slowly,
Around them.
It is funny to think
That we aren’t the centre.
We are the smallest
On the list

Sophie  age 10, Selwyn House School


Life without love is barely living






















Marauders map

Moony Wormtail

Padfoot prongs

























Darl arts











By Cale Age 12, Year 8 Rangeview Intermediate School


The Last Dragon

  • Dark Scales
  • Blue Fire
  • Heat of scales
  • Shadowy night
  • Isolated eyes
  • Toasted bananas
  • Thundering wings
  • Ashes swirling above
  • Iridescent claws
  • A fleeting memory
  • Glinting blades honing

Natalie. age11. Year 7. Mindplus School for Gifted Children


Fly’s New Diner

Welcome to Fly’s New Diner

Come in, come in

Here is our menu

Feel free to order

If you can be heard above the din



Cheese and shrew sandwich

Roasted branch with honey fried eel

Scorpion tails and roasted quails

Rat meat sausages

Caramelized snails

Toads’ eggs and turtle brains

Boiled tarantula with hemlock sauce

Ants’ legs, bat’s teeth burger

Mice innards on noodles

Meerkat’s paw in frog’s eye soup

Nightshade and fishbone pie

Elephant ear and duck’s foot gloop

Fly Agaric mushrooms with lentils

Lettuce fries and curdled carrots

Nettles, broccoli and cabbage on noodles

For the vegetarians among you

Purple hyacinth cake

Caramel cheesecake with snakeskin flakes

Marshmellows afloat in curdled milk

Raspberry avocado cream

Guacamole jam

Starshine and sun’s essence

Melted eye of lamb

Aloe vera and spider spit tea

Seaweed sauce

Essence of flea


Come in Come in

Would you like to taste?

“Sorry, sir. I’m late today”


Do come back another time

“No thank you, sir.

I’ll stay away.”


by Sarah-Kate, age 12, Year 8, homeschooled


Riding Out


Catch horse,

Put on halter,


Take off blanket,


Put on:

Saddle blanket,


Do up girth,

Loosely does it,

Bridle on,

Do up:

Throat lash,

Nose band.

Reins over ears,

Lead into arena,

Arm up,

Check stirrups,

Tighten girth,

Lead to mounting block,

Reins back on neck,


Foot in stirrup,


Leg over,

Other foot in stirrup,

Gather reins,


Walk away,


20-meter circle,

On the lunge,

Hold monkey strap,

Sitting trot,

Bounce, bounce,

Posting trot,

Up, down,

Over to gate,

Feet out,

Leg over,


Reins over,

Bridle off,

Take off:

Saddle blanket,


Blanket on,

Halter on,

Put in paddock.

Well done!

You rode a horse!

Nell Age: 9 Year: 4 Homeschool



Squeaky sand
Eggs in secret sand holes
Crashing hatchlings and yoga necks
Jellyfish pie for lunch
Swishing ocean swims
Old wrinkly turtles with sad eyes and slow bones

Amélie Age 7 St Andrew’s College Christchurch


Some AMAZING poems from Room Class 3/4 at Paparoa St School:


Frosty Wind

“chata chata” the frosty wind shivers down my spine.

Children getting sick all winter. Coughing and spewing.

The frosty wind blowing snow down for ages.

Some children have to walk to school in the freezing cold.

Frosty wind is very strong to push you over.

You can get very sick.

By Maddy Age 8


My Cat Chloe

My cat Chloe died from cancer.

My cat Chloe was so fluffy.

My cat Chloe liked to sleep.

My cat Chloe was so fluffy.

My cat Chloe died when I was three.

By Liam  Age 8


My Small Brother


He is as small as a skunk.

He is as small as my cat.

He is as small as out of date milk.

He is small as a fish food packet.

By Toby Age 7


My Dog

My dog is very very fast.

My dog dribbles so much.

My dog does not like cats!

My dog loves the water.

My dog loves me feeding him.

My dog likes to smell everyone.

My dog loves the river so much.

By Benji Age 7


Some MORE AMAZING poems from Room Class 3/4 at Paparoa St School:



Kicked in the face by a rugby boot

Falling off my skateboard

Cracking my head open on the concrete

Deep scratches on my legs thanks to thorny bushes



Billy Year 3, Age 8


Circus School

At Circus School, I hear the call to run

At Circus School, I smell the horrible smell of sweaty feet

At Circus School, I see silks, lycra and trapeze artists hanging from the air

At Circus School, I feel excited and my heart racing

At Circus School, I play and create

Neve Year 4, Age 9


Falling off a scooter

Prickly bushes

Bee stings


Sun burn

Bug bites

Bumping heads

Stove burns

Grazed knees

Staple pokes


William Year 4, Age 9



To be happy is fun

To be happy is life

To be happy is beauty

To be happy is lovely

To be happy is to sing a song


Tempy Year 3, Age 8


Some  AMAZING poems from the Samoan Unit at Richmond Road School:


Yellow is the colour of my chicken noodle soup.
Yellow is the colour of my yellow dog.
Yellow is the colour of the lion that is scared of people.
Yellow is the colour of stretchy cheese.
Yellow is the colour I like best.

Alani Rm 7 Age 9



Green is the colour of a pear.
Green is the colour of the grass.
Green is the colour of an apple.
Green is the colour of a turtle.
Green is the colour of my favourite book.
Green is the colour of an emerald.
Green is the colour that I like the best.

Jada Rm 9 Age 9



Red is the colour of my bed.
My friend Jed always wears red.
Red is the colour of steak.
Red is the colour of lava.
Red is the colour of strawberries.
Red is the colour of rubies.
Red is the colour of my car.
When my cat gets angry, his eyes turn red.
Red is the colour I like best.

Kingston Rm 8 Age 9


Some  AMAZING poems from Westmere School:


The Garbage Bin

I look in the garbage bin and see …
Fleas, fleas, leftover peas, some smelly cheese
banana peels, old old meals
and pies.
Then I fall in

By Jimmy, LS 6, Age 10


Mylo is a cavadoodle,
Mylo is as soft as a panda.
Mylo is a labradoodle,
Mylo is gold like caramel.
Mylo is a scrambledoodle,
Mylo has a shiny, wet black nose.
Mylo is a smackadoodle,
Mylo loves his toy, Drooly.
Mylo is a boodledoodle,
Mylo loves food.
Mylo is a spoodledoodle,
Mylo is a teeny tiny dog.
Mylo is all the kit and kaboodle.
By Timmy, LS6, Age 9


Art Gallery

Abstract lines on a canvas
Lines with an intent
A story
Sculptures with an untold legend
Colour splattered on a canvas
When I go to the Art Gallery
I don’t look at the art.
I see the story behind it.

By Nina, LS7, Age 10



Untold genius
9 million 700 and 94 thousand 352
Maths is not hard
Maths is just a key to solve any problem.

By Nina, LS7, Age 10


The Wonderful World in my Hair.

I pull out a coin but this is no magic trick.
As the comb comes down
I start to frown.
Chewy chewing gum
Bibbitty bobbitty bobby pins
Creepy crawlies
I scream
It was only a dream.

By Boh, LS7, Age 10


The Food I Own

Mum! I’m hungry!
Then have some food…
I look in to the bowl
I can’t see anything nice.
But lice and mice.
And some other things like…
Rotten apples
Blue pears
With some of my brother’s hairs
Bananas, mangoes
That are supposed to be ready for me
When I am on the go.
Grapefruit, orange
Nothing else but citrus.
Everything’s got worms
Wriggling and twiggling.
I grab the bowl and throw the contents in to the garden.
Mum! There’s nothing there!
Only chips, sugar and a cookie.
OK, please don’t eat the lot.
Just gnaw on the pot.

By Lily, LS7, Age 9



Ella reads a TERRIFIC poem at Ranui’s Poetry Day party




On Saturday I went to the poetry party for children in Ranui and my favourite bit was hearing the children at the open mic.

Reading your poems out loud in front of an audience is such a fun thing to do.

I think  I am inspired to plan an occasion to celebrate the reprint of the Treasury in November! Watch this space!

Every word in this poem is pitch perfect.


Here is Ella’s poem. She is from Woodlands Park School, and aged ten:



His eyes are like a green lagoon

His skin is like a midnight tiger

His tail trembles as he hunts in the bush

and afterwards he sleeps in a spiral

his tail curling around him.










Here is a taste of my A to Z of some favourite children’s poetry books at The Sapling – I have a small challenge and a book on offer

For the delight of reading poetry to your children and the delight of your children reading poetry to you, or to themselves as the sun comes up, here is an A to Z of some of my favourite children’s poetry reads (this is merely the start!). Most New Zealand poetry books for children are out-of-print, but you can find them in libraries. Maybe next year we will get some new poetry treats!
And my good news is that Penguin Random House is reprinting A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children as a paperback and it’s out in November.
I really love the way Sarah at The Sapling set out my A to Z. Thank you!
Here is  C  and   I   :
Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 10.44.41 AM.png
Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 10.43.55 AM.png
Go here to find my A to Z!
Let me know your favourite poetry book or books I have missed (I couldn’t say all the books I love on my shelves!!). Say why you like it.
I have a poetry book for my favourite answer. I will post a wee list of your picks.
Include your name, age and school if a child, just your name if you are an adult!
You might like to do this as a class.
Deadline: September 3rd
…. what other alphabets can I do?

My very EXCELLENT Poetry Day news! time to dance and whoop and clap





I am really excited because Penguin Random House

are going to reprint a paperback version of

A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children.

It will be out in November this year!

Yeah! I am so happy, thank you PRH!


H a  p p y     N a t i o n a  l   P o e  t r y     D a y  !


from Paula






A Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day celebration: Gemma wins a NASA space camp & writes poems with her brother Daniel plus a challenge




Kennedy Space Centre


Long time Poetry-Box contributors, Gemma and Daniel, have just finished a great big American adventure.  I invited them to share poems and photos.

It felt like the perfect way to celebrate National Poetry Day.


A challenge: If you have something special coming up and would like to make a poem-photo diary for Poetry Box (with parental permission) let me know what you have planned. I will let you know if I am keen to post it and give you tips. 

Or an idea for a poem feature. Tell me what you would like to do. I can not post ALL but I can post a few.

write about your idea to:

Tell me which school you go to, your age and put POEM FEATURE in the subject line please. I will just choose two or three.


p o e m s    a r e     a    w a y     o f         d  r  e a  m  i  n  g


I loved reading these poems because they set me dreaming about space and beaches and movies and magic and travelling the world – from my kitchen chair. Thank you!


From Gemma:

I was selected from student applicants across the world to receive a full tuition Hall of Fame scholarship to attend a 6 day space camp programme at the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama. I then had to fundraise to pay for my airfare, which I did by completing 6 weeks of sponsored challenges (that was exhausting!).

At space camp I spent the week with 15 other trainees, aged 9-11, and we did all sorts of amazing science and engineering challenges including: building and launching solid fuel rockets, astronaut training on simulators, mars and space shuttle mission simulations (I was flight controller on the space shuttle!) and more. We also did lots of learning about astronomy and the history of space flight, and met astronaut Hoot Gibson.

I was invited to visit Cape Canaveral and the Space Coast as well, so we decided to make this trip as a family, so my science crazy brother could have some amazing experiences too. Then we built a road trip around it, so we got to see some of America while we were there.

Our ages are Gemma – 11 and Daniel – 8.



Gemma at space camp


The poems

(We mostly wrote the poems together, usually when we were driving because we did a lot of that!)


4th of July


Fireworks that disappear in a silvery cloak

Explosions swallowed by the hungry night

Illuminated splashes of colour pierce the air

Sparks rain down from a translucent sky

Loud rumbles echo overhead as the gods battle in the heavens

Colours flood along the seamless sea

Light fades away into the endless wall of nothing

But the magic is everywhere Gulf coast



Universal Studios

There is a place

As big as the universe

Where you walk around and around

And around and around

Until you don’t know where you started or where it ends.

Did you start in Diagon Alley?

Or within the mayhem of the Minions?

Where did you emerge after saving the princess?

And how did you transform into this dark character in a dark world

When just moments ago you were laughing with woody woodpecker

In this universe

You see twinkles in the visitors’ eyes

And you know

Anything is possible



Diagon Alley, Universal Studios


Gulf Coast beaches


Some of the most beautiful in the world

But all I can see

Is a sea of people

Sweeping down the coast

An endless wave of colour

Reaching for the horizon



Hemingway’s Cats


Hidden in sweltering heat

You might find cats

With five toes on their feet


Roaming a tropical paradise

Seeking shade

That is cool and nice


Hemingway is famous as a writer

But for us, seeing his cats

Made our visit brighter



The Florida Keys


A chain of bridges

Joins the island keys

Each one different

Hinting at the personality of the island ahead

Yet each one the same

Crossing the crystal Atlantic

A magic carpet

Connecting people


Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 10.41.58 AM.png
Florida Keys


Alabama Ice Cream

*In Alabama they have really crazy ice cream flavours.  We wonder what a kiwi ice cream poem might be like?


Are you back from the trail?


Alabama pot hole

Deer tracks


Raccoon stripes


At the fair?

I recommend

Candy floss

Play dough

Or perhaps

Rainbow sherbet


Watching a movie?

It must be


Pirates treasure

Or even

Martian rocks dipping dots


And at the end of the day,

Indulge in

A Lemon sorbet

To keep that sweet tooth at bay






B eautiful turquoise water

A bundant sea life

H appy people everywhere

A place to swim with pigs

M uch to do

A tlantis its own Paradise

S unsets stretching in to the morning



New Life for Mum’s Sunglasses


The boat flew across the turquoise

The strong wind whipped the sunglasses

Right off mum’s face

They landed on a stingray

He thought he looked stylish

So he splashed about along the sandy bottom

Showing off

Until a fish swiped the sunnies

And swam away

Through the crystal ocean

The fish didn’t see the shark

His new glasses were too dark

The shark swallowed him whole

But spat out the glasses

When he swum forward

They stuck to his face

And suddenly he was looking super cool

He flaunted his new look

But was so busy looking at himself

In the reflecting water

That he crashed

Into iguana island

The sunglasses flipped off his head

Sailing through the air

Landing on a big ol’ iguana

Who said, “Who turned out the lights”?

The other iguanas wanted those sunnies

So they fought and scrapped

The glasses dropped back into the glassy tide

And floated away

A day later

On a nearby island

A pig called Panda saw something sparkling off the shore

He swam toward it

It could be food

But the sunnies bounced off a wave onto his face

The pig grinned

He turned to his piggy friends

And said

“My future’s so bright,

I gotta wear shades!”





About Huntsville, Alabama


It IS Rocket Science


In the rocket city

There’s a rocket around every corner

People rocket around

Talking about rockets

Rocking it

In The Rocket City





The Mars Generation


Eager young faces

Look to the stars

Searching for the path

To our new destination…





Sweet home Alabama


The locals long to listen to

Our kiwi accent

And dream of coming to

New Zealand

Just as we soak up the southern hospitality

And dream of staying in



Look Out Mountain


In the Appalachian range

Is a mountain they call

Look Out

Because it is so steep

That the train runs almost









And the view from the top is

Astonishing as you


Look Out

Over 5 states

Then descend

Within the heart of the hill

To find the cavern of crystals

The underground waterfall and

Mysterious magic of the mountain


Tornado Terror


Twirling twister

Tearing up trouble

Sending alerts off everywhere

Trees trembling in the vacuum torrent

Will it be ripping things to shreds?

Will there be roofs coming off?

Rocketing rubble everywhere

Causing death and destruction

Tragic and terrifying


(Daniel wrote this while the tornado was happening, then afterwards we used it to make the tornado shape poem J


Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 1.13.40 PM.png



16 States


USA has 50 states

To see them all would be so great

And so the mission has begun

To tick them off and have some fun:


Californ-i-a – a nice place to stay

Arizona – we could phone ya

New York – its all talk

Delaware – just didn’t care

New Jersey – felt so free

Washing DC – that was easy

Nevada – was a little harder

Ohio – had to try so

Texas – tried to hex us

Georgia – have I bored ya?

Alabama – heard strange grammar

Kentucky – we got lucky

Mississippi – not too tricky

Tennessee – done, yippee!

North Carolina – couldn’t be finer


Florida – weather couldn’t be horrider!




Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 1.15.10 PM.png



Thanks Gemma and Daniel – I really enjoyed reading these.




Gulf Coast Beach (clearwater)

Young poets (5 – 13) can submit poems to the excellent Toitoi




This is a very cool journal for young writers and illustrators.

Check it out here.

You can go on their mailing list here and get a free copy of Toitoi.

Here is a taste of Toitoi Quarterly Newsletter:
Submit to Issue 10
Submission Deadline
September 29, 2017
Find out more

From the Editor

We are delighted to bring you Toitoi 8 with 100+ pages of awesome writing and art by Kiwi kids. A special congratulations to 10-year-old Isabella Lee for the spectacular cover artwork. You can see more of her illustrations in the gorgeous story “Can Kiwis Fly?” by 11-year-old Frederieke Beekmans in the pages of the journal.

Over the past few months, Grace and I have been working hard to celebrate New Zealand’s young writers and artists and spread the word about the journal. We have started visiting schools as part of our Toitoi on Tour programme and last month I was thrilled to talk to Kathryn Ryan on RNZ’s Nine to Noon about how Toitoi started and what we are trying to achieve. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the link below. It made me realise how far we have come in such a short time. Thank you so much for supporting us on this incredible journey!

With best wishes,


Toitoi on Tour
Congratulations to Katrina Hsieh from Grey Main School. Katrina won the Teacher Subscription for nominating her school on Facebook to get a visit from Toitoi! We are putting together a schedule of schools to visit and we can’t wait to meet you all.

Thanks to Thames South School, Ngatea Primary, Pillans Point School, Te Kuiti Primary and Goodwood School for having us over the last few weeks. We hope we have inspired your young writers and artists!

I talk about children’s poetry with Lynn Freeman




from Groovy Fish

It was such a pleasure having this chat with Lynn in the studio before my memorable taxi ride.

I can’t believe I forgot my all-time favourite New Zealand children’s poet, Margaret Mahy whose word play and leaping imagination astonishes me more than that of anyone else. I was full to the brim with award-day nerves but still …. A thousand apologies.

The Sapling will post an A to Z of my favourite children’s poetry books on Poetry Day.

I got to read two poems from my new collection based on the titles you gave me: Daniel’s ‘Midnight’ and Lucy’s ‘Lick Lick Riff’. This is not a published book yet as I am still doing the drawings for it.

Listen here.



Three local children’s books make Kate De Goldi happy

Listen to Kate talk with Kim Hill here


Kate De Goldi joins Kim to discuss books for young readers: Two fiction works – Rona by Chris Szekely and Awatea’s Treasure by Fraser Smith; and in non-fiction, See, play, do; a kid’s handbook for everyday creative fun, created by Louise Cuckow. De Goldi is a fiction writer and book reviewer. Her most recent novel, From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, won the Esther Glen Medal at the 2016 NZ Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards. She is co-editor, with Susan Paris, of ANNUAL, a miscellany for 9-to-12 year olds, which was published in 2016. (ANNUAL 2 is due out in September 2017.)

I sung praises of Chris’s book here. I love Rona! I must track down the other two.