Monthly Archives: July 2018

July butterfly poems and August challenge





Dear young poetry fans


Thank you so much for all the butterfly poems! Wow!

I will answer all you letters and post some favourites in the next few days but I

am an injury cloud with my writing arm STILL injured so am running late

and SLOW.


The day after I post some July favourites I will post the August challenge.


happy poem days




Poetry Box audio spot – Melinda Szymanik reading Fuzzy Doodle



Fuzzy Cassock.jpg






Fuzzy Doodle was published by Scholastic in 2016.


Note from Paula: I love this book so what a treat to hear Melinda read it.

You can hear other New Zealand children’s authors reading poems in my audio spots: look in the side bar under audio spot or for David Hill, Kyle Mewburn, Apirana Taylor, Fifi Colston, Elena de Roo, Janice Marriot, Bill Nagelkirke, Stephanie Mayne, Renee Liang and James Brown. You can also find Barbara Else reading her piece on Selina Tusitala Marsh, our Poet Laureate.



Find Melinda’s blog

Born in Auckland, Melinda Szymanik still lives there with her family, writing picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults. A science graduate, Melinda initially worked in hospital administration, then went back to university to study literature and began writing seriously when her children were small. Several of her books have been shortlisted or won awards in New Zealand and overseas, and her short stories have appeared in trade and educational publications in New Zealand and Australia.

She is a regular ‘writers in schools’ visitor, was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, and has appeared at writers festivals across New Zealand. She teaches creative writing workshops for adults and children, blogs on writing and is one of ten New Zealand writers who run an innovative online writing experiment for children called FABO Story.


Selected Bibliography

A complete list is available on her blog


Picture Books

The Were-Nana, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic NZ, 2008, (Out of Print).

The House That Went to Sea, illus. Gabriella Klepatski, Duck Creek Press, 2011.

While You Are Sleeping, illus. Greg Straight, Duck Creek Press, 2013.

The Song of Kauri, illus. Dominique Ford, Scholastic NZ, 2014.

Fuzzy Doodle, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ, 2016, Scholastic Asia, 2017.


Junior Novels

Jack the Viking, Scholastic NZ, 2008.

A Winter’s Day in 1939, Scholastic NZ, March 2013.

The July butterfly poem challenge – you still have time





Here is the butterfly challenge I posted at the start of the month:




Let’s brighten up the chilly bite of July with butterfly poems.


I will read them all near the end of the month, post some favourites on July 31st and have a book for at least one poet.


Some writing tips


collect a big bunch of butterfly words before you start writing (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and a bouquet of similes

try writing a poem using no more than 16 words or so

use your senses to bring the butterfly alive

strong detail can shine

use a fascinating fact as a starting point

tell a little poem butterfly story

use a real experience

imagine something

make a butterfly poem that looks or moves like a butterfly

read your poem to someone before you send it to me – what will make it even better?


deadline: July 30th

send to:

include: your name, age, year, school

essential: put butterfly poem in subject line so I don’t miss it


have fun!!!!











Poetry Box audio spot: David Hill reads two poems



Photo credit: Robert Cross and VUW




David Hill has been a full time writer for over thirty years. His novels and stories for children and young adults have been published and won awards in several countries and languages.


my July butterfly poem challenge.



At The Sapling: Poet Emma Neale on the delights of books in family living & a popUp holiday challenge

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 8.39.22 AM.png

This piece from Emma Neale is a joy, a delight, to read.

It took me back to reading to my girls and how much I still love children’s books.


‘From Emma:

What does ‘story time’ look like at your house?

Story time happens wherever you can fit a boy, a parent and a book. Although our youngest reads to himself often, he still likes to be read to while he’s in the bath; or in bed; or in the living-room on the couch; or in the shared adult bed; or lying under the trampoline with the pet rabbit, as the rabbit trains for the Guinness Book of World Records’ Fastest Grass Nibbler 2018. Occasionally, if our eldest, Abe (16), has had a particularly rough day, he’ll quietly sidle up and listen momentarily, too.’

full piece here

a popup holiday challenge: let me know how books and stories work in your family and I will post. You can include photos with parental permission.

my July butterfly poem challenge.




In the hammock: Eirlys Hunter’s sumptuous The Mapmakers’ Race




The Mapmakers’ Race, Eirlys Hunter, Gecko Press, 2018


The Mapmakers’ Race is a glorious read.

If you are looking for a story that ripples with imagination and sings in the ear because it is so beautifully written, this your perfect holiday read. I adore it.

The Santander family is an adventurous family and they are hoping to go on The Great Map Race to win lots of money. But the father is mysteriously not back from exploring and the mother got left behind in a train mishap.

So it is up to the four children to get to the finishing line first (it takes a month) and chart the best train route through treacherous terrain.

Most of the other teams are so greedy to win they will do anything to get there. Villainous!


Once I started reading this book, I didn’t want to stop. I loved the characters and their special skills, especially the way Francie draws the maps for the train routes by seeing everything from above. She doesn’t talk but she has a special sight skill that drains her rather perilously at times.

I also grew very fond of young Beckett who drove them in a horse and trap to the race meeting. He ended up travelling with them because he wanted the train route to go through his neglected village. He turned out to be a godsend because he made their food supplies stretch further in the most delicious ways.


Plus there are the bonus little stories that get told to Humphrey, the youngest sibling, to soothe him. Oh and the mechanical horses that belong to another team!

This book, like Barbara Else’s magnificent Travelling Restaurant series, is set to become a classic because it has all the ingredients that make a story shine: suspense, tricky situations, learning curves, real things shifted a little by an agile imagination, fascinating places and equally fascinating characters.

I was sorry when the book ended but I spotted a launch point for a sequel. Fingers crossed!

Congratulations Eirlys Hunter on this must-read book.


A pop-up challenge: if you read this book and love it, I am happy to post some letters or reviews by children on my blog.


Gecko Press page







Woohoo! A Secret World of Butterflies event at Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop

This is the perfect event to go with our July butterfly challenge.

I used the fabulous Secret World of Butterflies to prompt our challenge.

If you live in Auckland you can meet poet author Courtney Sina Meredith and do butterfly craft at the children’s bookshop.









%d bloggers like this: