Monthly Archives: April 2018

A Poetry Box holiday challenge inspired by Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work (Gecko Press)



Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work, Aleksandra & Daniel Mizielinski and Malgorzata Mycielska, Gecko Press, 2018

Find out the book here


I have just read the most AMAZING book from from Gecko Press:


Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work


It gave me an idea for some tricky holiday challenges to get your poetry teeth into!


Inside the book

… you will find glorious illustrations to match magnificent ideas.

Sometimes people have thought of bold ideas that everyone thought were CRAZY and WOULD NEVER WORK.

Some make you laugh, some NEVER worked, some make you think the inventor was a GENIUS!!!!!!

Did you know Heron of Alexandria thought of automatic sliding doors 200 years ago? Everyone thought it was a trick of the gods.

You will discover the Passenger Dragon, the Bubble Messenger, the Bird Ship, a personal Cloud Maker, a Concentration Helmet, Ice Tunes and many more.

This book is RIVETING



I really love it and I think YOU will love it too!


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Three holiday poetry challenges


poems can be simple tricky smooth flowing use hardly any words use lots of words


1. Extraordinary inventions that DID work


Hunt for some extraordinary inventions. You could go to the library or use the internet with the help of someone.

We might not think it is EXTRAORDINARY now but maybe it was then.

Write a poem about the invention.

Test out strong verbs.

Use physical words to describe it.

Play with how many words you put on the line.

Listen to the poem.

Try three different endings then pick your favourite.

Make your poem tell a story.

Make a really short poem that uses the best words to describe the invention (especially verbs).

Travel back in time to when it was invented. Show me that time in your poem. Just a word here, and a word there.


2. Extraordinary inventions that DID NOT work: 

You might find one of these to write a poem about – you could write a poem about one in the book! You will get a MOUNTAIN of inspiration there. I think those 25 inventions are HUNGRY for poems.


3. OOOOOOOH   EXTRA TRICKY challenge: try writing a poem about an imaginary invention.  You imagine it!



Deadline: Saturday 27th April

Send to:

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

Important: Put Invention poem in subject line so I don’t miss it.


I will post some favourites on May 3rd and have a book surprise for at least one poet.


Don’t forget: You have until Friday April 27th to do the APRIL challenge (on the way poems – perfect for the holidays too!!).


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Come set a world record during World Poetry Month! 

I just got invited to invite you to join in this challenge! If you have always wanted to be part of a world record this could be your chance! Check out below where to send your poems – not to me!

The World Poetry Month seems to be a big thing overseas.

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From the organisers:

Come set a world record during World Poetry Month! 

Commaful is hosting a poetry contest that has been approved by the Guinness Book of World Records to attempt the record for the world’s largest poetry contest.

Every entrant will be listed on the contest page after the record is broken and the winning poems will be showcased as well! Your poem could be part of history!

 Submit your poem here.

Lit Hub recommend reading to children and the staff offer picks – plus my read aloud tips

This year on Poetry Box there will be new features!

One is In the Hammock where I share children’s books I am loving at the moment.

But I am also going to go back to old favourites – especially children’s poetry books.


My read aloud tip. We could read to:

people in hospital (old and young)

people in retirement homes

add to story times in public libraries

in schools

in bookshops (readers read aloud!)

at weekend markets (a read aloud stall)



I thought you might like to read this from the amazing  Lit Hub. Their staff sing the praises of reading to children (parents and teachers) and have picked old favourites to share:


‘Almost everyone agrees that it’s a good thing to read books to your children. Sure, it bolsters language skills, concentration, empathy and curiosity, and probably it strengthens the bond between parent and child—but also, children’s books are just fun to read. Well, some of them anyway. And if you’re someone who reads (and writes, and writes about) books for a living, chances are you started out pretty early, and with some pretty good material. To that end, the Literary Hub staff would like to recommend our very favorite children’s books, sourced from our own personal childhoods.’

See the list here.


Here is one example:

I haven’t read this book! I love the sound of it. So I am off hunting! I might read it to my cat.


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Poetry Box April Challenge  is here

Author Chris Gurney writes back to Molly, Hannah and Ari



Hi Hannah and Ari,

Thank you for your letters. I’m so glad you enjoy the Kiwi Corkers stories. Hannah, you did well to read so many books at once! I am guessing you like to read rhyming stories. Have you ever written any rhyming stories yourself? I love to write in rhyme and rhythm. It’s a bit like music, isn’t it.

Ari, you are so right – ‘The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff’ is a good story about bullying. I agree, Myles Lawford did an awesome job with the illustrations. Have you noticed the little fantail on a lot of the pages? Have a look next time you read the book!

Keep enjoying reading and writing your own unique stories.

Best wishes, Chris


Hi Molly,

Thanks for your letter. I love hearing that you are inspired to write your own stories. It was a lot of fun writing the Kiwi Corkers stories and using NZ creatures and icons. I bet you could write your own Kiwi Corker based on one of your favourite fairy tales?

I love that reading makes you happy!

Best wishes,



Poetry Box April Challenge  is here

In the hammock: Gecko Press’s The Yark by Bertrand Sartini






This is a new feature on both my blogs where I share thoughts on books I have enjoyed reading – whatever takes my fancy.

I do like the idea of lying back in a hammock with the sounds of birds and insects in the background and losing myself in a book.

I have just read The Yark by Bertrand Santini

with illustrations by Laurent Gapaillard

and translated by Antony Shugaar

published by Gecko Press, 2018



My Case History of the Yark


The Yark’s badness: The Yark is a monster who eats children

The Yark’s weak spot: The Yark only eats good children

The even weaker spot: good children are hard to come by

The stupid move: the Yark tries to trick Santa

The smart move: Charlotte knows exactly what to do in a Yark attack

The biggest mistake: Jack

The best location: the lighthouse

The turning point: Madeleine

The shiny light of the story: the power of kindness and love

The supreme delight: the illustrations

Scare rating: I didn’t hide under the couch

Eating recommendation: I gobbled this in a nanosecond it is so good


Gecko Press page

read the first chapter here



A flash challenge: you have two days to send me a poem entitle The Yark. Use my case history to imagine this monster.


Deadline: Thursday at noon   (you have 48 hours!!)

Send to:

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

Please put: The Yark in the subject line so I don’t miss your poem

I will post my favourite poem and send it to Gecko Press to read.



Poetry Box April Challenge  is here









Late arrival! A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Author, librarian, Desna Wallace writes back to Zian




Dear Zian

Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Just keep writing something every day and I know one day I will see your name on a book.

All the best, Zian.

From Desna




Poetry Box April Challenge  is here



April Poetry Challenge: on the way






writing a poem is like riding a bicycle into places you know well, places you are seeing for the first time and places you have to imagine – on the way is the best part of writing a poem!




This is our first poetry challenge of the year. I will also post bits and pieces between now and April 30th when I post some favourite poems.

If you follow my blog you will get an email when I post something new. See sidebar below.

My poetry challenges are open to New Zealand students from Y0 to Y8. Make sure you include the details I ask for below.

This is not a competition but I will send at least one poetry book to someone.



The challenge:         o n    t h e    w a y     poetry


The most important thing for me as a poet is writing the poem.

When I write a poem I am on the way somewhere as I write and I often don’t know where.

I surprise myself every time!



For this challenge I want you to pay attention when you are on the way somewhere and see what you discover.

It might a be a long or a short journey: to the school hall or the shops or the beach or your grandparent’s place or on holiday or another country or to the kitchen or the back fence.



We are often so busy racing to get to our DESTINATION we miss surprising wonderful things on the way.

I keep hearing things that surprise me.

Sometimes I like to stop and stand still and use all my senses to discover something I have never noticed.


Collect sights and sounds and smells and things that happen and use something as the starting point for a poem.

Try writing your poem as though you don’t know how it is going to turn out – so you are writing to discover something.

You might write your poem outside somewhere – half way to your destination.



It might be a list poem

or a short short poem like a haiku or made-up tiny tiny poem

or a poem that tells a story

or a poem that has rhyme on the end of the line

or a poem that showcases magnificent similies

or have strong detail. 


You might use your imagination

and invent what you discover on the way

to somewhere you have never been.


When you try writing have fun, it’s the best thing ever – which is why I am still doing it! Check out my poem below.


HOT TIP: wait a few days before you send your poem so you can listen to it one more time!


Deadline: Friday 27th April

Send to:

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

Important: put on the way poem in the email subject line please so I don’t miss it!!!

I will post some favourites on Monday 30th April.



I got the Northern Explorer from Auckland to Wellington last year and saw the North Island in new ways from the train window!



Northern Explorer


The cloud is a grey clump

above the grey hill

They are whispering secrets

I can’t hear what they are saying

The hill sees herself in the clouds

The clouds see themselves in the hill


Paula Green