Monthly Archives: September 2018

A popUP Poetry Box challenge for the HOLIDAYS with an EXCEPTIONALLY good Gecko Press book





Sunday afternoon and I have just got lost in the most extraordinary picture book

Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin (Gecko Press)

aimed at 5 to 8 year olds but I am WAY older than that!


This is a BIG FORMAT book that will just BLOW your cotton socks off it is so GOOD!

Open the book and you get inside three fairy tales villains:






For each villain you get fascinating facts.

For the wolf: strengths, weaknesses, top food, fears, favourite games, distinguishing features, physical attributes, favourite books


For each villain you get a beautifully written story.

For the wolf: The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats


For each villain you get a giant illustration that is utterly gorgeous and utterly special because you open up layers and layers with flaps.

For the wolf: open the wolf and you see their underwear, underneath that you pull a string and see what is in the wolf’s gut, open the head and you discover several layers of awesome ideas, lift the mouth and discover what they are eating!


Pull the springs

Pull the levers

Open stomachs

Open mouths

Open heads


This felt like the perfect book to set a holiday poem challenge.


write a poem that gets inside a fairy tale villain



we all have secrets inside us!



Villains might be a little bit bad and a little bit good.

Inside the villain you might find things they



surprised them

delighted them

love to do in spare time

their favourite place

their favourite adventure

their least favourite adventure

their favourite books

their best friend (do they have one?)

their strengthes

their weak spots

their horribleness

their secret dreams


Let your imaginations go roaming

Let your ears work hard listening to the words you pick

Let your eyes hunt for surprising things

Will your poem by short or long?

How many words will you play with on the line?

Read it aloud to someone before you send it to me


You might like to do a drawing or painting to go with your poem that you can scan and send to me too.

I LOVE this book so much I will buy a copy for one young poet and I will post some favourite poems.


Send to:

Deadline: Thursday October 11th

Please include: your name, age, year and name of school

So I don’t miss it: Put VILLAIN poem in subject line

I will post some favourites on Friday October 12th


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Clotilde Perrin is an illustrator who lives in Strasbourg in France. Inside the Villains was first published in France.  She has illustrated numerous books including At the Same Moment Around the World.   [Paula: I want to track that book down it looks amazing!!!]

Gecko page here

Some favourite poems from the talking-with-whanau challenge





For September I asked you to talk to members of your family and use some of their memories to write a poem.

I suggested you get their permission to use the memory and perhaps even show them the poem when you had finished it.

I wondered what would happen when you used a memory instead of reading about the past in a book or online or using your imagination to write of long ago times or events.

I am sending a book to Tom.


First up is a poem album from Tom  (age 10, Year 5, Hoon Hay School / Te Kura Koaka). I loved the way he talked with his family to get these memories. Imagine – you could make a little poem album and give it to your mum or day as a present!


Grand-mum mistakes

She was making hot dogs.
The saveloys were boiling.
Their skins soft and red
like paper.
The batter so bubbly
it nearly exploded.
She drained the saveloys
and slid an ice-block stick
inside each one.
She dipped them into the batter
until they wore yellow crunchy, crispy coats.

She had forgotten
the claws of heat
reaching through
the steel circles
of stove-top elements.
She had forgotten
the plastic
tomato-sauce bottle
resting there.

By the time she snatched
the bottle the bottom
had melted and stuck
to the stove.
The handle hot in her hand.
The sauce a free red river.

Dad the ice-cream thief

One winter night,
Uncle Craig woke to hear
the fridge door creak open.
He tip-toed to the kitchen
with his detective torch,
to find his older brother Glenn
sitting at the table
with a bowl
full of vanilla ice-cream,
eating as fast as the wind.

Dolphin surprise

Dad was in Akaroa harbour
helping his brother
get set up to water ski.
Just as the launch
pulled away from the wharf,
a Hectors dolphin
rose out of the water,
as if to say “hello” to dad,
and disappeared again,
as quickly as thunder.

Aunty Michelle’s water crash

At Tekapo, Aunty Michelle
was in the water biscuit
with her feet hanging
over the front side.
Dad was driving the boat.
Aunty Michelle wanted to go slow,
Uncle Craig wanted to go faster.
Dad drove faster.
Aunty Michelle flew like
she was on a trampoline
into the sea.
Uncle Craig jumped in to save her.



and now more poems from young New Zealand poets:



My Dad’s Pet Ram

My Dad’s lamb
It grew into a big ram.
Whenever somebody came
Into his paddock
He rushed and bashed them over.
When it was pet day
He bent the fence.

Lucy Age: 7  St Andrews College, Christchurch


My Grandad in the Olden Days

Hopscotch and hide and seek
Try not to take a peek
Oh and climbing trees
Please don’t break your knees
Jump rope oh jump rope
Don’t do it on any slope
Now back to hopscotch
Try it while eating butterscotch
Georgie, 9, Selwyn House School, Christchurch



Were the good old days really the good old days?

Once my grandfather got the cane.
The way he got it was insane,
He put a cat in his desk, which ended up with pain.
My great great uncle was in World War 2.
Above the skies was where he flew.
His plane got shot and fell to the ground
But landed in the water and he drowned.
My grandmother said the worst bit was bath time.
She said it was like lying in dirty slime.
When she went in she went in she tried to grin,
But you came out dirtier than when you went in.
So are the good old days really that good?
If they are, look back at your grandparents’ childhood.

Mahe  Age 10 Westmere school LS8


My dad, his friends
Looking for a seat outside.
The seat was wet,
they decided to move to a different spot.
Shaking started. Loud cracks.
Big boom. The building crumbled.
Bricks fell on the wet table. My dad,
His friends fell off
Their seats. My dad,
His friends saved
By the rain.

Aurora, 9 years old, Selwyn House School


My Dad’s Memories

My dad was born during the 6 days war in a bomb shelter (which makes sense). Guns fired,
bombs dropped,
cannons reloading –
it was a horrible war.

Ameer,  7 years old, Year 3, Ilam School in Christchurch


The School Run

White clouds softly rise above the sodden paddock

In two paces my shoes shine as my toes inside them freeze

Toby looks up

It’s my job to catch him as no one else can

Toby knows my secret

Snaffling through my warm, soggy, porridge pockets


I launch myself onto his back

Whistling for the others

Scraping the mud and hair off my satchel

One brother, two brother, one sister, three brother

All aboard

And off to school.


Gemma, Year 8, age 12, Adventure School



Grandma and The Go-cart

Getting in the go-cart,

Go grandma go!

Big brothers pushing,

Go grandma go!

Looking down the steep street,

Go grandma go!

Rolling slowly,

Gaining speed,                            Now a zooming blur,

No brakes… bad mistake,

Go grandma go!

Neighbours fence coming closer, NO GRANDMA




Daniel, Age 10, Year 5, Adventure School


My Dad as a Boy Waiter

Slowly stepping
Placing plates
Piling dishes high
Bringing napkins.

By Estelle, age 7, St Andrews College Prep School


The Peacemaker

Standing with no fear.
Guns all around.
Speaking his thoughts
to save the innocent
and save the soldiers.
Travelling the world,
just to save lives.
Risking his own
to save many more.
Flying his own planes
to the smaller wars of the world.
This is my father’s life
as a peacemaker.

Laura Age: 10 Selwyn House School



Maybe there was German blood running through his veins,
Maybe his horse didn’t stop when he pulled the reins.
Maybe there was a fight between him and his friend,
Maybe my great grandfather’s friendship was too hard to mend.
Maybe it was all too hard, as hard as trying to hide from war
Maybe this story says much, much more.
Maybe it is more than what meets the eye,
Maybe his friend was a good, good guy.

Sophie Age: 11 Year 7 School: Selwyn House School



Cracking good owl poem by Te Ringa Tu Graham (Y6)






Wake my adorable owl,

As day falls and night awakes,

People drown in their sleep,

 and you arise to see the darkness of night.



Floating through the calm air,

The warm pressure of the summer breeze,

 jumbles under the fury wings of the owl.

The air tickles the feathers,

As it listens to the natives snoring in their huts,

 under its slick body.



Listen to the familiar everyday noises,

The howling, the hooting,the big z sounds

Climbing out the windows of houses,

The trees and rivers flow through waves of air.



Swooping down on its curious victims,

The tough magnificent owl,

rips its prey from the wavy grass,

Its victims slashed,

kept in its talons until it reaches its nest.



Striking fiercely through the prey,

 on the dirty muddy ground,

The mighty owl keeps its grip on lock,

until the rays of the sun hit the blue sky.



Eat the scrumptious prey,

As the screams silenced, the prey is dying,

You don’t feel bad instead you feel happy.

For you have something to feed your family.



Sleep peacefully,

As darkness drops to its knees,

and the sun angers towards the earth,

You slowly drift to sleep.


Te Ringa Tu Graham Rm30


Fairburn School, South Auckland



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drawing by Kashira Rainey, Year 5, Room 30, Fairburn School 









In the hammock: Bren MacDibble’s glorious How to Bee

My September poetry challenge




Bren MacDibble grew up on farms all over New Zealand. She now lives in Melbourne with her family and a ‘cheeky dog’.

I have just discovered her award-winning children’s novel, How to Bee, and I just adore it.  It was published last year by Allen & Unwin.

Peony knows a lot about living in the country. She loves living in the country but the world has changed after a terrible famine. Bees are almost extinct so children have to pollinate the flowers in the orchards and get rid of pests.

Peony’s job is to get rid of pests but she so longs to be a bee, climbing fruit trees to pollinate with her feather stick.


Peony lives with her Gramps and sister in a shed and she loves her life.

Her ma lives in the ugly city to earn hard cash where life is tough for the poor.  Her ma drags Peonie to work with her in a big rich city house but Peonie hates it. She just wants to get back to the life she loves.

I adore so much about this story. Especially fierce brave daring Peonie!

I love the way she wants to keep her promise to Gramps and stay with him.

I love the way she makes friends with rich Esmeralda and helps her to be brave and go outside and dance under the moon.

I love the way Peonie’s boss on the farm treats all the workers so well.

Reading this novel is like going up in a hot air balloon because it is one gigantic UPLIFT that makes you think about the world and being alive and caring for others and being a little bit daring and knowing what you love and what is important.


Beautifully written, beautifully imagined treasure of a book.


Allen & Unwin page

Bren’s website


WINNER: CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers, 2018
WINNER: 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature
WINNER: 2018 New Zealand Book Awards, Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction










St Francis School is inspired by Margaret Mahy

Hot tip: Try my September poetry challenge


Ti Kouka’s Year 5 and Year 6 students at St Francis School  really enjoyed learning about poetry and nursery rhythms for my August challenge. They looked at Margaret Mahy’s A Summery Saturday Morning poem and changed the words but kept the four-line stanza.

I love Margaret’s book! I read it a thousand times to my girls when they were young.

I really loved reading all the poems the class sent in; such energy, such bouncing imaginations. I have picked four poems to share with you.





A Windy, Winter Wednesday

I wake when the wind started to blow
Started to blow, started to blow
All I hear is a crow
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a big, fat fly,
A big fat fly, a big fat fly
It soared up in the enormous, blue sky
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a wriggly spider,
A wriggly spider, a wriggly spider
It looked like it was a super glider
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a wee white mouse,
A wee white mouse, a wee white mouse
It crawled out of its tiny little house
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw a colourful bird,
A colourful bird, a colourful bird
It started to get really absurd
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw an agile, brisk, furry cat,
Furry cat, furry cat
It was wearing a large, plain, brown hat
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw my teeny, grey dogs,
Teeny, grey dogs, teeny, grey dogs
At least I still had my slimy, green frogs
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then I saw my little brother,
My little brother, my little brother
He was out all alone with no other
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then they all started chasing each other,
Chasing each other, chasing each other
One by one they ducked for cover
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

Then my brother caught the dogs,
Caught the dogs, caught the dogs
Before they could leap over the logs
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

We rush inside and eat some tasty stew,
Tasty stew, tasty stew
We see icy snowflakes that flew
On a windy, winter Wednesday.

By Tommaso Year 5


A Mystic, Magic Morning
We meander outside with full hearts
With full hearts, with full hearts
Holding a shiny sword and our wrinkled cart
On a mystic, magic morning.

The wind howled and the snowflakes flew
Snowflakes flew, snowflakes flew
This world is cold but looks all new
On a mystic, magic morning.

My pig’s feet sloshed in the snow white path
Snow white path, snow white path
I was scared but I started to laugh
On a mystic, magic morning.

A roar shook a hanging sleet
A hanging sleet, a hanging sleet
My pig started to dramatically bleet
On a mystic, magic morning.

A lion jumped out of the hidden bush
The hidden bush, the hidden bush
Me and my pig squealed like a cow that’s been pushed
On a mystic, magic morning.

He landed with a giant thud
A giant thud, a giant thud
After that he splashed me with mud
On a mystic, magic morning.

We ran as fast as our feet could take us
Feet could take us, feet could take us
When I looked back I wished for a bus
On a mystic magic morning.

In the distance we saw our small house
Saw our small house, saw our small house
As we ran we saw a louse
On a mystic, magic morning.

We slammed the door hard behind us
Hard behind us, hard behind us
We ate our food without any fuss
On a mystic, magic morning.

By Oliver Year 5


On a Sandy Sunday Morning

Dashing into the waves with the surfboard under my arm
under my arm, under my arm,
The water is clear and mostly calm
On a sandy Sunday morning.

I stab into the calm blue crystal water riding my board
Riding my board, riding my board
I feel like I’m a Knight in shining armour holding my sword
on a sandy Sunday morning.

As I’m furiously paddling, I get stung by a jellyfish bobbing
Stung by a jellyfish bobbing, stung by a jellyfish bobbing
Feeling tough but my left arm is throbbing.
on sandy Sunday morning.

I turned my surfboard around and bolt back into shore
bolt back into shore, bolt back into shore,
Spotting a lifeguard, I let him know my arm is sore
on a sandy Sunday morning.

The man points me up the club rooms stairs for a shower
for a shower, for a shower
Feeling relieved, I stayed under for an hour
On a sandy Sunday morning.

by Quinn Year 6 Student
On a Mystic Monday Morning

I can’t wait to go to Spain,
go to Spain, go to Spain.
We are departing on our plane.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

We just saw a huge fly,
Saw a huge fly, saw a huge fly.
It took all my brother’s pie.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The baby began to cry, cry, cry
cry, cry, cry,
The parents began to sigh, sigh, sigh.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The stranger began to drink his coke,
drink his coke, drink his coke.
I think he might even choke.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

We are starting to descend,
To descend, to descend.
I have made a new friend .
On a Mystic Monday morning.

The seatbelts began to click, click, click,
To click, click, click
Pablo is feeling very sick.
On a Mystic Monday morning.

By Dani


Poet Renee Liang gets Y1 and 2 writing poetry

Hot tip: Try my September poetry challenge


Meanwhile this is a delightful set of poems from a class that poet and playwright Renee Liang worked with.


My Toys

Sisters arguing.
Blocks smashing.
Everything so loud.
Plastic spinning wheels.
Squeaky wheels and little sounds.
Smelling the hard plastic.
Feel metal screws.
Feel the cold.



When I Jump

I fly through the sky
I smell Mum cooking while I fly
It feels like a bouncy marshmellow on the moon
I see Mum jumping next to me
I touch the net and remember I’m on the tramp
Then I smell a yucky thing
So I fly away again.



Dragon toy

I can hear in my dragon toy the flapping of the wings.
I can smell the smoke and fire from my dragon’s mouth.
I can feel the bumpy skin.
I can taste the blood from a man that the dragon ate.




When I stand on the trampoline I sink through bubble gum.




When I taste the clear breeze it’s often on the trampoline.
I hear the squeak of the trampoline.
I see the top of the trees.
After jumping on the trampoline my feet feel fuzzy.
I feel the metal springs on my feet,
The birds tweet at me for hours.
I get tired of jumping.



My sandpit

I fly when I hear the wind whistling through the sky
And I smell the salty sand.
The birds are tweeting in the sky.
That makes me fly.



from Room One (Y1/2) at Gladstone School in Mt Albert, Auckland, taught by Mrs Hubert.

We did a brainstorm on ‘Things That Make Me Fly’ and then came up with some words to describe these things, making sure to focus on each of the five senses. We talked about using a real thing to describe a feeling.

Then we used these ideas to write a poem.

The children are used to writing narrative stories describing their weekends, but handled the switch to poetry and more focussed word use really well!! Lots of enthusiasm too with the evidence on their faces as we talked that they were really feeling the words when we discussed ‘exploding bubblegum’ or ‘tasting the breeze’.