Monthly Archives: December 2018

Poetry Box is taking a summer holiday



Thank you so much young poetry fans for reading my blog and trying my challenges in 2018. What a lot of emails I got from you ALL! I have such fun doing this blog -and I love it when I get to meet some of you in schools. I am hoping I can do more school visits in 2019 than I did this year.

I am putting Poetry Box to sleep until February while I finish editing my book, swim at the beach and read a big stack of novels.

You might like to keep a poem notebook and then send me your favourite one at the start of February.

I will have more time for my blogs next year so will have a little part of my brain thinking about what I can do to make them better and to involve you more.


Keep safe, have fun, read poetry, write poetry and enjoy your weeks and weeks of free time – summer is a time to play!


warm regards

Paula Green


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Haere rā! An interview and poems from Gemma (12) – a foundation Poetry Box fan


Skimming Stones




Skip plop!


Skip    skip    plop!


Skip    plop

Skip    skip     skip     plop!

Skip    skip     skip     skip     skip     skip     PLOP!

Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap!\


Gemma Lovewell written at the age of 10


Gemma has joined in poetry challenges since I started Poetry Box. She is in Y8 at Adventure School in Wellington and will be graduating from the blog this year. I have loved reading Gemma’s poems – especially her playful use of words, her agile imagination and her attentiveness to the world about her. And I have seen how she works with other children. A few years ago I visited her school when I was on my Hot Spot Tour of New Zealand. She, her mum Robyn, and brother Daniel, had baked poetry biscuits and we ended up making poems with them (see photos below).

It has been such a pleasure getting to know Gemma through poetry. I will miss her – but I wish her all the best for her writing, reading and space adventures as a teenager and as an a adult. May her days gleam with poems! I am sending her a copy of 99 Ways into NZ Poetry to dip into over the coming years. Thank you so much for joining in and inspiring other children!

We have done an interview, we have hunted out some photos and she has picked some favourite poems that she has written – old and new. And I have added a surprise poem at the end.





Paula: You have been following Poetry Box for a long time. What did you like most about it?

Gemma: That there were so many different kinds of poems I got introduced to, and so many different ideas to write about.  It really broadened my writing into a new genre that we didn’t used to do much at school.


Paula: Why do you like writing poems?

Gemma: They are so efficient!  You can express yourself in less words.  It’s less complicated than writing a story…but you are still kind of writing a story.  Also my brother and I have fun making up poems together  – we do it when we walk to school, or in the car, and we can usually remember them pretty well.


Paula: What were a couple of your favourite poetry challenges?

Gemma: I honestly can’t choose.  I like them all because every challenge is different and makes you think just a little bit more.  I have discovered I love writing Haiku though J


Paula: What was the hardest?

Gemma: Definitely the picture poems.  It is so hard to get the words placed exactly right, and sometimes you have to change the words to fill the gaps.  It takes ages to get it right!




Paula: Name some of your favourite poetry books.

Gemma: Macaroni Moon was my first favourite poetry book and so I think it will always be my favourite.  I also like Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse for Kids and Animals because when mum reads the poems from that we all get the giggles. Another amazing one is Kwame Aleander’s  The Crossover – it is a novel about basketball, but the whole thing is written in verse.


Paula: Oh cool, Crossover is my pile of books to read over summer. There is another one too – Rebound. What else do you like to read?

Gemma: Anything!  Everything?  I read A LOT – usually one book every night.  I like fantasy best, and my favourite series is the Inheritance Series.  I love reading any series because you get to know the characters.  I also like to sneak my brother’s library books into my room and read whatever he is reading…


Paula: Do you have a top tip for young poets?

Gemma: My advice is always the same:  Don’t think, just write!  Because if you relax and just let the words fall out, you poems will be more genuine.  You can do the thinking (fixing up) once you have the words on the page.


Paula: What else do you like to do in your spare time?

Gemma: Spare time?  What’s that!  I have a busy life.  I am very in to sport – I play rep cricket and basketball, so there is a lot of training. I do scouts as well, and have lots of badges.

I also like horse riding and travelling with my family.


Paula: What sort of things do you hope to write in the future?

Gemma: I hope to write a diary, written from somewhere off earth (I plan to be an astronaut!).  I would love to publish something “out of this world” J


Paula: I can  see why! You had the amazing trip to NASA. What were some of your favourite poems you wrote for a challenge?

Gemma: I loved loads of my poems.  Two of my favourites are ‘Skimming Stones’ – because it is so simple but I think it captures the moment exactly.  The other is ‘Concrete Cat’ –  this poem has become quite famous and been used as an example poem around the internet!  Teachers in my school and other schools use it to teach picture poems, and that makes me proud.


Concrete Cat.png

(written aged 8)



Some poems from Gemma I have not seen before written aged 12 (unless I say)


The Lovewell Family

My Dad is the chief chippie eater, the terrible

Takeaway fiend and the private snack thief

He is the relentless singer of repetitive songs

He has more hair in his ears than on his head


My Mum is the famous family taxi driver, the maker of

Nutricious deliciousness and the unbelievable lover of veggies

She is the bossy one always making sure all hands are on deck

Our captain of the great ship LOVEWELL


My brother is the  unstoppable behind your back fighter and

the sneaky puncher, the follower-rounder and snitch

He is the unfathomable mixer of foods and drinks

His favourite name involves maths


My cat is the unrelenting food beggar, queen of the couch

and the only creature chased by butterflies

She is the killer of vets and her eyes are just as big as her stomach

Her belly moves more than she does


My family works together and sails together through the storms


A Spaced out Sonnet

I was born to be an astronaut girl

Going to galaxies far far away

To do so I must let my wings unfurl

Not wasting life picking pieces of hay


I won’t laze around on couches all night

Instead I must study my science and math

I shall work hard to keep my goal in sight

If I don’t get there you will face my wrath


When I look down from my home up in space

I’ll think of the loved ones I left behind

I’ll see the earth’s stunning beautiful face

That is the journey I’ve set out to find


As I’m part of the Mars Generation

I think I’ll thrive on earth separation




Rain Falls over the snow covered Mountains

And flows to the fresh water stream below


War is happening below

Death comes

Every second


If you survive your family cries out with love


Birds catch and search for worms below the trees

In the sea below, sea creatures roam free.


(written in workshop with Apirana Taylor at the age of 7)


Lunar Musings

The moon is a silver marble

Rolled out trying to catch the earth

But not quite reaching


It is a boy’s silver coin

Dropped into the drain’s

Deep cloak of darkness


Moon is the forgotten marvel

An untouched dusty surface

Except by a dozen men

Who dared to disturb the peace


It is the friendly face

That you see every night

The calloused face

Humans have


Trusted for centuries




Drop of water falls

Followed by a raging flood

Bitter taste of salt


Gemma at NASA Space Camp






The biscuit poem project at Adventure School


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When I went on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour I visited so many schools and did events in so many places collecting titles for a new book of poems for children. I have finihed the poems and have almost finished the drawings (yes! drawings!) This is the title Gemma gave me at Porirua Library  – she can have a sneak preview of my poem.


Eat Your Words

for Gemma


Verbs are salty

nouns are sour

adjectives are crunchy

adverbs are crisp


The alphabet tastes like pumpkin soup

the letter p tastes like passionfruit

the letter d tastes like donuts

the letter c tastes like pie crusts


You can roast s

you can toast b

you can butter f

you can bake t


Flip sentences like pancakes

dress with cinnamon and sugar

then gobble in a flash


©Paula Green 2018






Two river poems




Thanks for joining in my popUP 48-hour river challenge. I am sending Daniel a copy of the book thanks to Gecko Press. I loved reading your poems.



On The Whanganui River

The untouched paradise of the Whanganui RIver

Gives a glimpse of the Aotearoa of long ago

A Jurassic wilderness where the moody sky changes

From dark obsidian, to shining sapphire

The river, stirred up by the torrents flowing from Mount Ruapehu,

Is the colour of caramel fudge

The trees lining the canyon are as green as dewy grass

All we hear is the sound of the keruru’s heavy wingbeats

Echoing down the valley

And the roar of hidden waterfalls cascading down

As a cacophony of nature’s teardrops

I have found my peaceful connection


Daniel aged 10 Adventure School




In our river

There are stepping stones

Placed by families

To help us

Cross to the other side

And balance

To play pooh sticks

With our friends


In our river

There is a water hole

Where all the kids go

To cool off

And splash about

Until the eels arrive

And we all make

A mad dash for the shore


In our river

Everyone can have fun.


Gemma written age 9 Adventure School

Had fun writing this update on the boy from Margaret Mahy’s Lion in the Meadow



To celebrate the 50th anniversary edition of Margaret Mahy’s The Lion in the Meadow Elizabeth Knox and I got to write an update on the boy in the story.



Check out Elizabeth’s story and mine in the Herald (Saturday 8 December).

I once picked The Lion and the Meadow as one of 5 books I wish I had written for the paper!


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From Gecko Press – a spectacular book on rivers for children with a 48 hour popUP poetry challenge and giveaway





Rivers are such fascinating things. I used to swim in Nelson rivers in my summer holidays. Nowadays I find the braided rivers of the South Island so so beautiful.

Gecko Press have published a magnificent book about rivers by Peter Goes:

Rivers: A visual history from river to sea

It is a big beautiful entrancing glorious book. Each page is filled to the brim with facts and drawings that you can dip and dive into for weeks on end.

You will discover what lives beside a river, what you get to do on rivers and what state rivers are in. Plus the geography and history of rivers.

A fascinating fact: Hardly any water from the Colorado River in the United States makes the sea as most is used for drinking water.

Anothering fascinating fact: Lantern fish in the South Pacific Ocean make light.

A third fascinating fact: The Yakutian horse in Kazakhstan can find grass even under thick snow.

If you like facts and other places and very curious things – and like going to museums or visiting foreign countries or travelling back in time – then this is just the book for you!!


 P o e t r y   B o x    HIGHLY RECOMMENDS   this book



A popUP poem challenge for you

I  really love the things people build to get over rivers. This book has inspired me to write a poem about it.

I challenge you to write a poem about a river – any way you like!


Deadline 5pm on Sunday 9th December.  You have 48 hours!

Send to

Include: your name age year and name of school.

Don’t forget to put RIVER POEM in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will post some poems on Monday 10th of December if I get any and have a copy of the book to give to one lucky poet (Y0 – Y8).

Please share this with a friend!












Wow! Some favourite poems from the Margaret Mahy challenge



What a special treat to have my email box fill to the brim with poems inspired by Margaret Mahy books. It was extra hard picking poems to post as this is the LAST challenge of the year. There were so many TREMENDOUS poems!


I loved the way Gemma used titles of Margaret’s books to make a poem.

I loved the way Daniel made an acrostic poem to sing the praises of Margaret.

I loved the way you all got your imaginations bouncing and your words leaping.


And I loved the Tom was so inspired he wrote 5 poems- I can tell he loves playing with words and making poems.

Because I love sharing poetry books around, I am sending Chloe a copy of The Treasury of NZ Poems for Children.

It was a treat to read all the poems you sent – thank you so much! I will do a few more posts this year before I put Poetry Box to sleep for the holidays.


It  was a big LOVELY coincidence but The NZ Herald is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Margaret Mahy’s The Lion in the Meadow and invited me to write a wee story about what the boy was doing now he had grown up. It will be in the Herald’s Christmas Books feature on Saturday 8th December.


 t h e     p o e m s


Margaret Mahy

M aster of writing, you were

A lways entertaining us with such

R idiculous words from a remarkably

G ifted author

A ll ages adored your books and

R aucous rumbustifications as you

E encouraged us all

T o keep reading


M agical imaginator, you were

A ddicted to creating, and it will always be

H ard not to love your stories, as

Y ou were one of the greatest writers of all time

Daniel L Age 10, Year 5, Adventure School




Aunt Nasty…

There’s a King in the Cupboard

And a Lion in the Meadow!


Dashing Dogs!

It sounds like a Villain’s Night out…

The Tricksters!


The Seven Chinese Brothers

Can take the Underrunners

To the Green Bath


But what about the Witch in The Cherry Tree

The Three Legged cat

And the Great White Man Eating Shark?


The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate

Can take them to the Door in the Air

So they can start Making Friends


I think they are planning The Great Millionaire Kidnap

With the Pirate Uncle

And the Word witch!


Then we shall hide Down the Back of the Chair

And listen for Footsteps in the Fog

Until A Summery Saturday morning


And we will use the Dragon’s Telephone

To call the Good Fortunes Gang

To rescue us from this Horrendous Hullabaloo!

Gemma, Y8  Adventure School



Saturday Morning

On a Saturday morning I lay in bed, not wanting to get up
On a Saturday morning I read a book in bed, not wanting to get up
On a Saturday morning my Mum comes in, telling me to get up
On a Saturday morning I have Weetbix and toast, wishing that I hadn’t got up
On a Saturday morning I get dressed in my rugby clothes, reminding me why I got up
On a Saturday morning I get in the car with my Dad, who also had to get up
On a Saturday morning I arrive at my rugby game and see my friends, which is one of the reasons I got up
On a Saturday morning I score a try in rugby
I’m really happy I got up.

William F, age 11, Year 6, Ilam School, Christchurch.
Mother Pirate

My mother pirate
sleeps all day
wearing black boots
I call her queenfisher
She doesn’t like it
so she says to me
“you quacky duck”
and that’s my mum

Chloe W Age: 7  Ilam School



My Mother was a wonderful baker
She could bake all sorts of stuff
Biscuits, cakes, breads, slices
She was a master
But my favourite was her jam
Blackberry Jam
Sweet, syrupy stuff
Bread’s best friend.

Lachlan F age 11, Year 6, Ilam School, Christchurch.


Down the Back of the Chair

The chair, the chair,

Held riches and wealth

For many a year,

Without a person finding out.

He let them suffer,

He let them weep

He let them have nights with no sleep.

The poor family were at their end,

The father was driven round the bend.

Just as they were about to give up,

The chair erupted with all sorts of stuff.

Finally, the family could breathe again.

The chair had saved their lives.

By Eva M Karaka Room Royal Oak Primary School


The Bubble in the Wind
The bubble in the wind
flies gently by.
Over the trees
and into the sky.
Inside the clouds
the bubbles flies.
Into the wind
the bubble cries.
Next to a bird
who nips it flat,
and flies to the ground
with a great big SPLAT!

Christina S Age 6  Ilam School


Fruit Salad Flying
(After Margaret Mahy’s Down the Dragon’s Tongue)

Swizz, swoosh
Higher and higher
Whizz, whoosh
Warm and slippery
Fruit salad flying

Olivia L Age: 12 Year: 7 Selwyn House School


The Boy With Two Shadows
Footsteps rattling the sides of the concrete
Cracks splitting in the light
The delicate patter of a toddler’s step
A little boy’s walking alone

Swollen misshapen, two shadow swerve
Extraterrestrial shape
Two shadows based exactly the same
Sucked in by a little boy’s foot

The boy’s shadows dance and sway in the light
Both ugly, dark and small
The boy’s timid expression remains frozen
But the shadows duck and hide with a grin

The boy causes a stir as he walks down the lane,
Avoiding cracks at all costs
His two followers melt behind him softly,
Until all is left is a boy who once had two shadows

Sylvie King Age: 12 Selwyn House School


My Nan Sells Jam
Every morning she walks outside to smell the country air, she feeds the chickens then the horses and the spring lambs
Then she walks to her most treasured living creature
Her plum tree
She walks over and studies the condition of the plums then picks them
And puts then in her best woven basket
She walks back inside and mashes them together
and puts them in a jars.
Nan then will walk out onto the road with a table her jam and a country mag and set up a stand with her jam
Sometimes her stand with jam is busy sometimes it’s not
But my nan will always tell you one thing “I will never lose my love for plum jam”

Phoebe James 10 years old Year 5  Selwyn House School
The Santa Snail – After Margaret Mahy
Santa Snail walking running, you never know
Santa Snail curled up tight in his shell
Warm and cosy in his shell buried in the snow
A Santa Snail works all night long
Pulling his sleigh
With presents for other snails.

Mia D Age: 10 Year: 5 Selwyn House School


Mother Pirate

The woman who was a pirate,

Was fussy as can be.

Randomly, she sailed to sea,

Just to see the queen bee.

As greedy as a honey bear,

She then turned into the mountain deer!

Don’t look her in the eye,

Or you’ll be sorry!

Reham Y, Age 9, Year 5, Fendalton School


A Lion in the meadow
aahhh aahhh aahhh
The lion is stuck in tar.
Good, first I put a cage
over him.
His age is 7!
Oh no get the hose
Good, the tar is gone.
Let’s let him go
Wait! Let’s name him
Ahh um aha
Great idea.
Now let’s let him go
Ok bye Patrick!

Jonny A, age 6, from Ilam School
Milk In The Library

A cow walked into the library
To read a book on grass
She had a little accident and
Flooded the library with milk
Drenching books
Smudging ink
Wrecking leather
Milky mayhem in the library
Don’t open the door!

Finlay T  Age 8, Year 3   Ilam Primary


The lion in the meadow

The lion in the meadow gives a mighty roar

And then the mice run all along the floor

The lion jumps and I start to flee

While the lion laughs at me in glee

The lion makes a terrible sound

And I drop in fright to the ground

The lion runs

And I get stunned

Bye, lion!

By Josie P, age 7, Year 2, Ilam School, Christchurch


The Witch in the Cherry Tree
The noise echoed through the silent house,

I walked to the window,

Somebody was there,

In the tree,

I rushed to the other bedroom,

I joined my parents to gaze at the witch in the cherry tree.

Ruby T Age 10, Year 6 Ilam School


And to finish up FIVE magnificent poems by TOM

Lion in the Light
Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(scratchy-meaty ever so beefy)
out in the shed.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(purry-furry ever so roary)
out in the garden.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(shocking-rocking ever so coughing)
out on the deck.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
(breaky-achy ever so wakey)
out in the kitchen.

Father father what was that?
Hush my son only the lion
Lighty-bitey ever so mighty)
down in your bedroom.

Corn Trouble
There is trouble in the corn field.
The magpies crunch for brunch
crunchy and brunchy til the dawn
opens the mouth of corn
and pop-pop-pop, the corn does drop.

There is trouble in the corn field.
There is popcorn on the road.
There is popcorn in the garden
and pop-pop-pop, the corn does drop.

There’s no trouble in the corn field.
All the corn is on the ground.
The magpies have sailed
in a river of popcorn.
There’s no more corn to drop.

The Boy with Two Shadows
I am here
but cannot be seen.
You will never know
where I take steps
or strike. You will
never know, where I’ve been.

I am there
but not here.
You will never know
where I am.
You can touch me
and I’ll disappear.

The boy looks at his shadow
In the sun
And realises he has two!
What will he do?

The Margaret Mahy Jelly Playground
There was a green can
of jelly in the supermarket.
Every customer walked past
and never bought him.
This left him lonely.
So one night he dropped
off his shelf.
His can burst open.
All at once the supermarket
was a green jelly playground,
With slides, swings
and a water factory.
This became known
as the Margaret Mahy Jelly playground,
where the children of New Zealand
could play safely for ever,
ever, ever and ever.

The Burger Burglar
The Burglar could never
resist stealing burgers.
Cheese and sour cream,
bacon, beef and onion,
pineapple and corn.

At night he broke
into houses to steal
only burger stuff.

He only left sauce trails.

A detective followed
the trail of sauce,
and caught him.

It turned out
he only stole burger stuff,
because he wanted
to make friends.

Tom N Age 10  Year 5  Hoon Hay School/Te Kura Koaka