Monthly Archives: October 2018

Poetry Box October challenge: some final tree poems



The deadline muddle is still a deadline muddle and I feel like writing a time muddle poem with an owl hooting in the day (sometimes they do) and the moon shining and a hedgehog prowling –  but instead I will post Tom’s poems because they are really inventive. I like the way they tell three different stories. And Daniel’s poem that is full of tree wonder.


It’s Christmas.
On Waiheke Island
the pohutukawa
dreams Santa will arrive,
pick her up
roots and all
and replant her in snow,
so she can shine
so bright, everyone
in the North Pole
can see, even Santa.

Ti Whanake
Pīwakawaka flutters around
Ti Whanake, telling him
the woodcutter wants
to make room
for an enormous fire
to sweep the forest floor.

Ti Whanake begs Pīwakawaka to take
his cabbage leaves
and build a giant fan
to put out the fire.

The woodcutter gets angry
and cannot see
to cut anything,
with all that smoke.

NZ Native Beech
In a storm
our native Beech tree
fell to the ground.

We wrapped her
in star-light.

We carried her
back to the forest
and buried her roots.

Tom N Age 10 Hoon Hay School/Te Kura Koaka


Amazing poem

When I see a tree, I wonder what I would be?

If they weren’t to be, no tūīs would sing the morning song,

and no pigeons would ring the lunch gong.

When I wake up in the morning, all the smells snore steam through the air

warm and nice.

If trees weren’t to be, we wouldn’t have oxygen.

Trees bring love to my heart and now trees play their part.


Daniel Year 3 Aged 7 St Francis, Pt Chevalier



October challenge: a few more tree poems



Oh dear I got my deadline date muddled for the tree poems because Sunday (today) is the 28th not Friday!


So I am delighted to post a few more TREE poems that arrived in the nick of time. Gemma played with poetry forms, Daniel played with humour and Michelle made a warm-glow poem.


A poem from Michelle Z, Y2, Ilam School


Yellow flowers upon this tree,

Flying around the sky.

Playing hide and seek,

all together.

Holding the golden flowers,

eating lunch together.

Finding sweet new friends,

Friends found by you,

best friends,

always there for you.

Kōwhai flowers.


Three poems from Gemma Y8, Adventure School


He rakau ātaahua koe

(You are a beautiful tree)


he rakau ātaahua koe Kōwhai

he rakau ātaahua koe Nīkau

he rakau ātaahua koe Rimu

he rakau ātaahua koe Tōtara

he rakau ātaahua koe Kauri

he rakau ātaahua koe

rakau ātaahua o nga atua




The golden kōwhai

In spring a tūī café

A treat for us all



Shall I compare thee to a tōtara tree?

You are as upstanding and as solid

And while parts of you may seem tough to me

My life without you would be just horrid


At times you help me reach up to the sky

Using your branches to find great new height

Yet you also shelter me when I cry

And offer me safety when I take fright


Like the tree, our bond took much time to grow

But our roots run deep giving strength to last

And while lofty heights mean I’m ready to go

I’m glad you saved me from growing too fast


So while I may roam, beyond what you see

You’ll always remain, my tōtara tree.



Three poems from Daniel Y5, Adventure School


I wonder…

I wonder how the first tree began?

Did some matter clump together, til suddenly…



Or was it a mutant

Plant from the sea

That somehow evolved to the might we now see?


Or did god use all his power

To create something great

Nature’s own tower?


I guess that we will never know

But still I am glad

That trees came to grow



If a tree could grow

In zero gravity

Its roots might stretch

In crazy directions

Like a dancing octopus

And in autumn

The leaves would float

Like a shower of confetti

That never stopped raining


Daniel L, Adventure School



The Beech Tree

I sit under the beech tree lying there doing nothing.
I hear the wind going through the leaves,
Making the most wonderful noise.
The birds whistling their lovely melodies.
Blossoms falling all over the place.
I ask myself “what would life be without trees?”

William F (11, Year 6), Ilam School, Christchurch

Poetry Box Challenge: some favourite October tree poems



Queen Charlotte track – the trees are magnificent!


I was really excited to post a tree poem challenge because I love trees and look at trees everyday. Thank you for all the tree poems – you made it  so hard picking.

I was especially delighted to get the poems from Royal Oak Primary School because they had gone outside to sit by trees to write their poems. Hunting for tree detail was an excellent plan.

I was also very moved by Ethan‘s memory of a tree (it is the last poem here).


This is always a poetry challenge not a competition – but I am sending Quentin a copy of my book The Letterbox cat. I loved the way his poem went full circle.

On November 1st I am posting my last challenge of the year!





He stands proud.

He stands tall.

He holds a shelter for the birds, bees and tiny insects.

His arms grow out, reaching out to greet the other trees.

His leaves dance gracefully to the ground in the gentle breeze.

He shelters all from the rain, the wind and the sun.

He stands proud.

He stands tall.

By Quentin – Year 6,  Royal Oak Primary School


Cabbage Tree

Pointy, spiky. Poking my arm
Big green pom-poms
like bright fireworks in the air
sprouting up from the ground,
pointy spikes all around.

Penelope S  Age 8 Year 4 Selwyn School

pohutukawa tree

look at me I make you happy when you see me.
my trunk is huge and green green  grass lies under me.
my silk flowers are as bright as can be.
look at me, look at me, look at me.

Jacob Age: 10  Year 5,  Fendalton Primary


Pohutukawa Tree

Pohutukawa tree,

the favorite tree for me.


Blooming Christmas red,

warming my covers for me in bed.


Kingfisher’s favorite

their flower kit.


So go sit under a pohutukawa tree,

and look at the red brushes making you the happiest you can be!


Jasmine R Age 7 St Francis, Pt Chevalier




I remember the day
I bought you
you were small
and weak
you had no leaves or flowers
I slowly ripped the plastic
from your roots
and popped you in a pot
Now you are strong
with leave and flowers
you have survived
all 4 seasons
I am proud of you

By Thea, age 9, Ilam School


My Tree

The trunk is as rough as sandpaper on my hand.

As dry as an African desert.

The sawn off branches look like arms ready to tackle you to the ground.

The branches tangle together like noodles.

The tiny leaves are as green as a rich lady’s purse.

Reaching for the dense leaves creating alien shadows.

The dried our leaves brown and rusty.

Bruce – Year 4 Royal Oak Primary School


I Am the Oldest

My skin is rough and torn.

My leaves cascade down to the ground and glimmer in the dappled light.

My giant branches reach out like hands

Many elaborate animals find themselves building homes in my safe arms.

My dagger like leaves are for my protection

My sturdy trunk houses millions of roots that snake throughout the undergrowth.

I am the oldest tree.

Paige – Year 6 Royal Oak Primary School


Still Growing

Trees expand their little skinny hands with a greedy group of leaves.

The buds of the impatient flower are ready to explode into a mountain of colour.

The old leaves sadly sway down as the strong solid tree is singing “Let it go.”

I am one with the tree.

Tika – Year 5 Royal Oak Primary School



In the morning
when the sun is rising,
the rimu tree
sways in the wind
like it is fighting.
In the day the cat
sleeps peacefully
under the rimu tree
And the sparrow chicks wait
for food in the rimu tree branches.
When the sun goes down
the cat walks down the road
back home. The sparrows sleep
safely in their nest.

Tilly O  Age: 9  Year 5 Selwyn House

The Old Blossom Tree

There’s a kowhai tree,
In the centre of my garden.
Its flowers are always the prettiest,
Dew drops cling to the curvy bark,
Sunlight dances on the clear, yellow bell petals.
A young lizard delicately crawls up its lovely trunk.

Paige L  8 years old Fendalton Open Air Primary School


The kowhai tree in summer

Winter had crushed the colour out of
the flowers and trees.
In the next few weeks came summer.
Beautiful colours sprang.
There was not one tree or bush without a bloom
But over the golden horizon one tree stood out
and it belonged to New Zealand.
It was the vibrant yellow kowhai tree.

By Alice, 9 years old. Year 4 Selwyn House School


The cabbage tree

Sharp and pointy.
More leaves falling down.
Sparrows flying above on a sparkling day.
Collecting and building making a nest.
Hoping no one will hurt their nest.
Then at night they come to rest.
Alice G, age 9, Year 4, Selwyn House School



The New Zealand Christmas tree
hangs over the golden sand,
like people looking into a tank.
With its bright red flowers,
soft green leaves,
and it’s extraordinary size,
this tree is is the best for climbing.
From there you can see the horizon,
along the sea.

Xanthe W age 10, Year 5, Selwyn House


Bamboo rap song

Bamboo is green. Bamboo is smooth. Bamboo is cool. It’s gonna rule.

Bamboo is thick. Bamboo is slick. Bamboo can be chopped into tiny bits.

Bamboo is strong,stronger than anyone.

Bamboo is fun.

when it’s in the sun.

George Age 9, St Francis Pt Chevalier



The gift of pohutukawa tree

Red flowers spreading on the tree
like mould on an old tomato.
The heavenly flowers are the natural perfume of the earth.
The gift of joy they bring to everyone.
Is the gift of the pohutukawa tree.

Rebecca H Age: 10  Selwyn House



The kowhai tree

The kowhai tree
outside my window
sways and shivers.
It twinkles in the moonlight,
humming in the gentle breeze.
Whispers “it’s a glorious sight”.
What would your tree say?

Charlotte K, Ilam School, age 7, year 2


The pohutukawa’s life

Standing strong and old
in its little known forest
ready to have a peaceful death.
Awaiting for the right moment.
As he sees the big machines
he closes his eyes and waits.
Then he opens his eyes
and can see his brothers
dead on the ground.
The cutting pain in his side is finally over.
He topples over,
holding onto his last shred of life.
He and his dead relatives
are thrown onto a truck
and are taken to be carved.
The last one of them all
is the old pohutukawa.
The man on his rocking chair
does not know
that his chair was once the tree
that he climbed when he was little,
The old pohutukawa.

Laura M  Age:11  Selwyn House




My first memory was under a pohutukawa tree. Its red flowers, as red
as a ruby, were glittering and shining in the morning sun. I was going
for a stroll in the park as it was the first day of spring. The first
flowers were blooming and all the plants were like a tornado of

But my favorite tree of all was the native pohutukawa. I
liked the way the flowers looked among the shiny green leaves. It
really worried me that some people were cutting these trees
thoughtlessly down. If this went on, there would be none left; so my
family and I planted some seedlings that spring. And that was my first

Ethan, Year 4, Fendalton School





A poem and drawing from Toitoi: and an invitation to submit new work



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I have been reading my way through the gorgeous new issue of Toitoi – a magazine that publishes writing and illustrations by children aged 13 and under.

Charlotte kindly gave me permission to publish this terrific poem by Lani (5) and equally terrific drawing by Lucy (9). The poetry is all so good – but so is everything else.  See if you can find a copy for your self and get inspired!

It is now time to send in more submissions so check out the details below.



Submit to Toitoi

Toitoi celebrates the ideas, imaginations and creative spirit of our young writers and artists. We publish material with an original and authentic voice that other young people can connect to and be inspired by and that reflects the cultures and experiences of life in New Zealand.

If you are a young New Zealand writer or artist and you are 5-13 years old, we would love to hear from you.

All submissions must be your own original work and be previously unpublished. If you would like to illustrate a story or poem, please photograph or scan two examples of your very best work and send them to us. You are welcome to submit your writing and art together and to make multiple submissions.

All submissions should be emailed to with your contact details.

For submission guidelines see here


Deadline: November 30th






The Sapling’s Sarah Foster talks to the editors of two excellent journals for school-age writers

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Sarah Foster talks to Charlotte Gibbs, editor of Toitoi, and Melanie Dixon,the new editor of Write On. These journals accept submissions from young writers – primary school age!

They are a terrific boost for young writers and illustrators – such huge benefits for our writing communities.

You can read the interview and find essential links here.



Poetry Box October tree poem challenge


Tāne Mahuta, the giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest, Northland


I love reading poems with trees in them. I love looking at the trees out side and we have a lot because we live in a big clearing in the bush in the country. We can see the tail end of the Waitākere Ranges from our place. We don’t go into the ranges now because we want to give the kauri the best possible chance to survive.

I have set a tree poem challenge for October – and you still have time! So here is a refresh for you after the holidays!

I don’t read the poems and your letters until the end of the month and then I always reply!


Some tips

It might be a New Zealand native tree you especially love.

You might go out and take a photo or do a drawing that you send with your poem.

Your poem might bring the tree to life with strong detail

or it might tell a tree story

or a tree memory you have

or a concern you have.

Use your eyes to hunt for fascinating things.

Use your imagination to hunt for fresh similes.

You might like to play with how you set your poem out.


Send to:

Deadline: Friday October 28th

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

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

A poem for Bird of the Year: The Kereru



The Kereru


A soupy mix

of sea blue and river green,

with his plump white pillow chest

the wood pigeon flies

flap shlip flap shlap

from one tree to the next

in his hunt for berries

bright red best,

flap shlip flap shlap.


©Paula Green

from The Letterbox Cat published by Scholastic




Children – if you have a kereru drawing I could post with this

and you have parental permission

send it to me


Some favourite poems inspired by Inside the Villains book



I so loved Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin (Gecko Press, 2018) I created a holiday popUP poem challenge for you.  Gemma and Daniel had friends over so spent a couple of hours coming up with villain poems and ‘rolling round on the floor in hysterics’.

I loved reading these and laughed out loud! These poems step off from fairy-tale villains and have fun. I loved the wit and playfulness.

I am sending a copy of the book to Gemma and Daniel.

You might like to try my October poetry tree challenge



The Stepmonster

So many years

Wasted in front of a mirror

Never seeing what was really there


Her heart is black

A rotten apple

Decay runs through her veins


If rose tinted glasses

Had covered her green eyes

She might have had her own happy ending


Gemma, Age 12 Year 8 Adventure School



The One Big Wolf

There once was a wolf with a cold

Who came to a house made of mould

The smell made him sneeze

And a big sudden breeze

Made the house fall down ‘coz it was old


Daniel Age 10 Year 5 Adventure School



Troll under the bridge

Wants food but there is no fridge

What about a goat?


Layla Age 12 Year 8 Tawa Intermediate


Fairy Tales

I don’t like fairy tales

They don’t have fairies or tails

The villages seem lacking in jails

And the villains are usually males


Ryan Age 12 Adventure School


The Farmer’s Wife

A shining knife

A final polish

A lift to the block

A glimpse

A fright

The knife takes flight

Reflecting sun

Blinds 3-2-1

Mice stop

And the knife?




By Gemma and Daniel


Poor Wolfy

There once was a wolf in the wood

Who found Little Red Riding Hood

He wanted a friend

But alas, in the end

She thought he was up to no good.


By the Fab 5


The Big Bad Wolf

Three little pigs

Build on my land

I tell them to stop

I’ve got something planned


They look at me funny

And say “how ‘bout no?”

They offer me money

I say, “please, just go.”


But they build on and so

It makes me get mad

‘Til I huff and I blow



Well, the rest is history isn’t it

(and I am sad).

Gemma, Age 12 Year 8 Adventure School


Rainbow Six Witch

There once was a witch

Who played Rainbow Six

She mained twitch

And liked to rage quit

On defence she’s a roamer

And shoots mainly droners

Once she mained Ash…

But it made her computer crash.


James Age 13 Year 8 Adventure School


Grovewood Border Patrol report (by Officer Troll)

The Billy Goats Gruff

Known for smuggling stuff

Are attempting to get to the other ridge

I am patrolling the entrance bridge

And if they get through despite it all

I’ll be the one to take the fall


Zane Age 13 Year 8 Adventure School








A poem from Peter Bland’s fabulous new collection for children




Peter Bland is one of my favourite local poets who writes for children. He has new book

The Happy Garden: New & Selected Poems for Children

Steele Roberts 2018

which I think should be in every school library and on every children’s bookshelf.

Peter writes with exactly the right ingredients: a trampoline imagination, a whizzing ear for rhyme, eye for things that surprise, sparkling humour. Peter’s poems are like little chemical reactions where things fizz and change and react and connect. Or little surprise parcels for us to open.

The Happy Garden does all these things and more! Peter has kindly given me permission to post a poem on my blog. Steele Roberts page.



The tiny tiny spider

A tiny tiny spider

is crossing the bathroom floor.

I leave him tiny tiny crumbs

he chooses to ignore.

The bathroom floor’s a desert.

I think the spider’s lost.

I think he thinks he’s a camel

and a desert has to be crossed.

Keep going, tiny spider

until you find a cave

in a crack in the tiles

or a hole in the wall

that’s cosy, warm and safe.


©Peter Bland





You might  like to check out my popUP

holiday poem challenge (deadline from Friday!!)

and my October poetry tree challenge


Excellent holiday reading: Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther

You might also like to check out my popUP

holiday poem challenge and my October

poetry tree challenge








Stories of the Night by Kitty Crowther (Gecko Press, 2018) age 5+


Kitty lives in Belgium – her parents are English and Swedish. She has written and illustrated over 40 books. They have been translated into 20 languages and won many awards. In 2010 she won a major prize for children’s authors: The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Kitty dedicated the book to Sarah who came to stay one night and dreamed Kitty wrote a book called ‘Stories of the Night‘ with a pink cover and a handwritten title! Wonderful!

And now it is in the world!!


Kitty’s new book is an absolute honey of a book – a modern fairy tale – that I want to read and read and read again.

Little Bear wants Mother Bear to tell three bedtime stories to help them go to sleep.

The book is exquisite pink the perfect pink for a book that is dreamy and magical and soothes. A smallish hardback that I have held in my hand for two days before opening because I wanted to save and savour it!!!

The beautiful drawings take me back to all the bear books I have loved – so full of life and delight.


The number 3 is powerful in fairy stories – 3 stories are Little Bear’s way into sleep.

The first story is about the Night Guardian who says when it is time to go to sleep even when it doesn’t feel like time because there is one more thing to do!


Donnnnng Donnnnnnnng

“It’s time to go to bed, little ant.”

“I just need to get this one piece of petal,” called a tiny voice.


The second story is about a little girl with a sword who gets lost. She goes hunting for blackberries and ends up having the snuggliest sleep.


Zhora snuggled under a leaf and fell fast asleep. She felt safe.

At dawn, she heard her brothers and sisters calling her in the distance. She was so excited to tell them about her adventures, but her bed was snuggle and warm so she stayed just a little longer. Right now, being here was perfect.


The third story is about the man in a big coat who never sleeps. I especially love this story because his best friend Otto the otter writes poems on stones and throws them into the sea.


Bo was delighted to be back in his bed.

The moment his head touched the pillow, he sank into a deep sleep. He didn’t ask if this was because of his night swim or because he’d found one of Otto’s stone poems or because he had such a wonderful friend—or even if it was a mixture of everything.


Good books make us feel good but they also shine little lights on the world – on how we fit together in families and friendships. I love this book because it reminded me of my life as a mother, a daughter and a friend, of how stories are gold, and kindness and gentleness and braveness and perseverance are also gold. Sleep well young readers!

this book is a keep-me-forever dreamtime book