Monthly Archives: July 2019

July Poetry Box challenge: Some favourite poems using Groovy Fish titles




Wow! It has taken me a long time to read all the poems you sent using titles from my new book Groovy Fish.

So as you can imagine it was hard choosing.  I do hope you get to read these and hunt for one that inspires you to write a poem.

None of the poems were like my poems in Groovy Fish and I loved that –  if you find my book write me a letter and tell me what you think of it and I will post some on the blog (

I loved all the poems that came in from students at Rātā Street School so I am sending them a copy of Groovy Fish.

This is not a competition but I am giving away three of my original drawings. I put all the names in a hat and I sending Groovy Fish illustrations to Sam (Otari School),  Tom (Hoon Hay School – Te Kura Koaka) and Mady (Rātā Street School).

Do try my August challenge I will post tomorrow.

I loved all the poems and I hope you don’t feel sad you didn’t get picked this time but glad you had such fun writing it. My philosophy when I write books that don’t get picked!!



Lollipops and Chickenpox


The chickens have chickenpox

and big boxes on their heads.


Dr Loudbutton gives the chickens lollipops,

pumpkinseed flavour, boring flavour,


spider flavour, dirt flavour.

The chickens swell up!


‘Those chickens are going crazy

for lollipops,’ says Dr Loudbutton.


Brroock! Brroock! Brroock!


Sam Rastall, 8, year 3, Otari School

The Watermelon

I saw a watermelon going to the Moon on the road yesterday
Now, I see a tiny little resort
With a cool pool
On the Moon.
NASA says “a round green alien lives on the Moon”.

Ben E  Age: 7   St. Andrew’s College


The Biscuit Thief

One day at a house Alyssa baked some
Biscuits! But a thief came he
Was as quiet as a mouse
Dancing past the window
He has two pockets
Ready to steal yummy biscuits!
So be careful.

Olivia Age 8, Y4   Fendalton Open Air School


The seven seagulls


7 hungry seagulls waiting at the beach,

7 hungry seagulls looking at a peach.

7 hungry seagulls need some yummy lunch,

7 hungry seagulls want to munch and crunch.

7 hungry seagulls flying to the food,

7 hungry seagulls are in a good mood.

7 hungry seagulls sitting at the beach,

7 hungry seagulls have eaten up the peach.


Alicia (7) & Rosie (7) – Yr 3 – Rātā Street School



The Biscuit Thief

One midnight
when the moon shines
as bright as the sun,
one little racoon
lifts a kitchen window,
opens the pantry door,
knocks over the biscuit jar,
pushes it down to the floor,
sweeps away the glass,
picks up the vanilla biscuits,
balances them on his back,
and returns to his cubs.

Tom Age 10, Year 6  Hoon Hay School – Te Kura Koaka



I shine on the pier
At New Brighton Beach
Feeling the wind
Whipping my cheeks.
The busy streets of the UK
Beeping cars, Big Ben chiming,
But that wouldn’t be my perfect night
So the next night I go to
Papua New Guinea
I see rainforests and lots of things to do
I see humans alone with the animals disappeared
Although I’m just one moon,
Can’t I reach out and help them?
I have been to a million places.
What place is my favourite?
No one knows the answer.
Not even a fairy,
Or even a dancer…..?

Ameila, Selwyn House School


The Tree House


Soon I am moving to a new house

I’m going to live in a tree house


My tree house will be a serene lookout tower

Accessed by a cauldron pulley

High in the branches of a Kahikatea tree

Looking out over smooth grassy fields

Like American prairies

And a vast swampland

Like the Florida Everglades


My tree house will be made from nature

Living there will feel like being part of the tree

It will be a sanctuary for tired birds

Like a giant nest we can all share

It will be hiding place for cheeky boys

A place to refresh feelings

Like a day spa for ten year olds


Soon I am moving to a new house

I’m going to live in a tree house…


You can visit any time


Daniel L, age 10, Y6, Adventure School


Zip Zap Zang

Zip zap zang I flipped when I ran,
I twisted i wished when i was a sizzle pan.
I saw a dancing potato when I said malaaawaloooo.
I said zang wang when I hooked up a man.
I saw a strawberry eating a pizza,
but I saw a fridge licking a whiteboard pretending to be a duster!!!!

William   Age: 8 yrs  St Andrew’s College


Swimming With An Alien  


I swim across the wide ocean

with my friend the alien,

I feel faint as I look in to his eyes

red like fire

The water fills my lungs with happiness

as we glide through the cheerful water

My body freezes with delight

And now its time

to take flight


Violetta, Age : 10, Y6,  Fendalton School


Tea with Aunty Lee

Today I am having tea with Aunty Lee.
At Aunty Lee’s house I see a mouse.
I smile with glee.
It’s just me with Aunty Lee.
Aunty Lee says I must have cake with my tea.
At Aunty Lee’s I see a tree.
It has a bee looking at me.

Carolyn Age: 8  Year: 4 Fendalton School


The Glass Door


My heart melts as I see the emptiness within

A glass door with no beginning and no end

As I touch the substance it feels icy against my hand

The moon reflects against the surface

During the day there are two suns

If something heavy lands the door will shatter


Johanna Age 10, Year 6, Fendalton School


Dancing Fish

Yesterday I was out swimming and I saw something quite peculiar
There was a group of fish springing out of the water, and I didn’t
Know what they were doing so I swam over and asked what on earth
Are you doing, the leader of the group did this some sort of twirl over to me
And said, “what do you think we are doing we are dancing.” That fish had quite
Attitude. I said well it doesn’t look like dancing to me. So I’ll give you a quick
Lesson on how to dance. I taught them how to turn, leap and plié, it took quite a while for them to get it but when we did we started making up a dance. While they were practising I Raced back home and made some costumes, I made bright coloured sequens tops for the Fish. They loved the costumes. After the rehearsal had finished we went and found an audience. We had Mermaids and dolphins and turtles and even starfishes. I counted them in, 5,6,5,6,7,8. The audience were wordless they had never seen dancing fish before. The fish were blushing with pride.

Samantha Age 12 Y8 Selwyn House


Banana Land


Everyone loves bananas!!

I love bananas and Alex does too.

Bananas are awesome.

They are yellow and they are yummy.


Jonti  (8) & Alex (8) Yr 3 – Rātā Street School

Zip zac zang

Zip zac zang went the tall power line.
Zip zac zang went the electrical car.
Zip zip zac zac zang zang went the tall power line and the electrical car.
Then someone said,zip zac zang.
Then the light went zip zac zang.
Then I said zip zac zang.
Zip zac zang said everyone.
What will come next?
Zip zac zang from everything.
Alex age 8, Y4, Fendalton School



(Acrostic Poem)



In a dream.



Ink eyes.

Good night sleep

Hiccups !!!

Time to wake up.


Kade (8) Yr 3 – Rātā Street School




The six rainbow rabbits

The six rainbow Rabbits have
Lots of bad habits.
They try to
Bounce on their squeaky rainbow beds
Until they fall off and hurt
Their heads.

Alyssa Age 8 Y4  Fendalton open-air school

The Highway Rat

The highway rat
wears a hat
that flips and flops in the breeze
His matted fur and tattered hide
is fully infested with fleas

Isaac age 9 Y4 Fendalton School



The Dog Climbed up the Curtain


The dog climbed up the curtain

The cat jumped on his head

They both fell howling backwards

And landed on the bed.


In the door walked owner Sam

With a frown upon her face

The curtains were ripped and torn apart

And all around the place.


Hamish & Jackson (7) Yr 3 – Rātā Street School


Howling Wolf

(A haiku)


Very spooky wolf

In the night you howl loudly

Like a large grey dog


Mady (8) Rātā Street School



Sky High

(Acrostic Poem)


Kite flying high in the sky.

Yikes it’s too high.

Helicopter flying in the sky.

I’m scared of flying up in the sky.

Grass floats to the sky.

Hectic flight.


Tamaia (8) – Rātā Street School



Six Rainbow Rabbits


Up in the hills,

In the valley of sheep


Six rainbow rabbits,

Hidden away, fast asleep


On waking, they make rainbows of joy

Busy on the vast slopes that are far too steep


Saskia 7 years old St Andrew’s Preparatory




Daniel sees French picture book author-illustrators Clotilde Perrinand Eric Veillé



Dear Paula

You recommended it, so in May we went to the Gecko Press Les Petits kiwis festival at Capital E to see French picture book author-illustrators Clotilde Perrinand Eric Veillé. It was so much fun! We listened to some of the stories and learnt how to draw the Big Bad Wolf and the Granny, and how to make a flip up picture. They taught us how many pictures go into making a book – if you look at the photo you can see! We left our Wolf book at home so couldn’t get it autographed ( And they read a really cool book about scary monsters (A Monster Wearing Socks?) that weren’t actually scary, which made mum and me laugh out loud but they didn’t have that one for sale and we already had the other books!

Here are some photos of the day and also one of my wolf and granny drawings! It’s not as good as the one Clotilde drew that you can see in the photo. She is very clever. And Eric was very funny!

Thank you for telling is about this because it was really fun :).  I’m sorry I didn’t remember to tell you about it until now.



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Poetry Box review: from Gecko Press – Zanzibar and Monkey on the Run

With three books out in the world over a month I am getting lots of interviews. I get asked what I am reading and what I have loved reading and I always flag children’s books, especially children’s books published in Aotearoa.

Margaret Mahy showed how children’s books are magical, fun, challenging, imaginative, word soaring, rhythm gliding, absolute treasures whatever your age.

Gecko Press publish children’s books that make my skin tingle they are so good. Amazing illustrations, breathtaking writing and heart catching stories.


Here are two new treasures from Gecko Press!




Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers is a story in pictures. NO words bar the title so you can make up your own story using the illustrations as clues. I would have loved performing this when I was young.

Each page is full to the brim with curious things, fascinating vehicles, animals doing a zillion things: follow the spiralling, filming, pan-sizzling, waiting, driving, juggling, tossing, towel-folding, straw-slurping, fish-reading, dog-bone-gathering, jewellery-displaying, tennis-playing, hospital-going, bird-singing, carrot-juicing, gelato-licking, giraffe-kissing, concrete-churning traffic jam all the way along the road as monkey runs and leaps and clambers on top of it ALL

to the END.

What a perfect ending that made me smile like the Great Wall of China!

And what a gorgeous curious fascinating UPLIFT of a book! I am still smiling from eyes to toes.

Gecko Press page


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Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx is a junior chapter book featuring a reporter called Achille LeBlab (a lizard) and a crow called Zanzibar.

Achille is keen to write an article about an exceptional character but wonders if Zanzibar is the right choice and the only exceptional thing about him is his name, especially when he FAILED the singing test (caw caw caw).

What a golden opportunity for an ordinary character to become EXTRAORDINARY!

Zanzibar could make a mean mushroom omelette but the reporter scoffed at that skill!

Maybe if he could lift a camel with one wing into the air the mean old reporter wouldn’t scoff (scoff scoff scoff). So the next day Zanzibar packs his knapsack and flies to a desert in search of a camel.

Hmmm! You will have to read the book to find out what happens to incredible Zanzibar BUT

this is a story of good friends and things both ordinary and extraordinary – oh and excellent mushroom omelettes.  A delicious read indeed.


Gecko Press author Q & A page






Making up new Groovy Fish poems at the Dorothy Butler Children’s bookshop




A very big thank you to Cuba Press, The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop in Auckland and all the children, mums, nanas and other adults who came. A special thank you to the lovely Mary from the bookshop for writing down our poems when our words were whizzing fast!

You still get a chance to win a drawing if you send in a poem to my Groovy Fish challenge. All the names will go in the hat and I will pull out one or two. Plus I will give away a few Groovy Fish books.

These two launches have been really special – it felt like the bookshops filled with warm poetry glows and I took poetry glow home with me.

Thank you!

Here are some photos – and under that are some poems we made up together using titles from Groovy Fish.









Thunder Monkey

Thunder’s in the sky

bang crack

boom crash

coupled with lightning blue


The monkeys are in the trees

swinging, revelling, trembling

in the storm


Thunder monkeys are lit up by lightning

thunder monkeys are super monkeys

and are fine in the storm


Lollipops and Chicken Pox

I have chicken pox

but I really like lollipops


I have measles

but I really like weasles


I have the flu

but I like the colour blue


I have a cold

but I make paper folds


I have diabetes

but I really like sweeties   (uh oh!)


But today I’m well

and I’m writing a poem


The Little Fish

The little fish lives

in a deep dark watery cave.

It’s as little as a pin

and black

and has an electric blue fin.

It makes a ginormous friend.


They play and splash

on a bright summer’s day.


The Biscuit Thief

Chocolate cream biscuits

sitting in a jar

on a picnic blanket

by a feast of cakes.


Ants take the cake

to their ant hill

but the ants are in cahoots

with the imperial cruisers

and the biscuits are lost in space.


Tap Dancing Fish

Glorious, blindingly beautiful

tap dancing fish

tappity tappity tap tap tap


jumping stomping leaping

in a disco fish bowl

right on top of the high cabinet


The fish jump so high

out of the bowl

kissing the ceiling

they land on the floor

crash bang wallop

and tap dance away

never to be seen again


What a fun day we had!





Making up new Groovy Fish poems at the Children’s Bookshop in Wellington

A very big thank you to Cuba Press, The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington and all the children, mums, dads and other adults who came.

You still get a chance to win a drawing if you send in a poem to my Groovy Fish challenge. All the names will go in the hat and I will pull out one or two. Plus I will give away a few Groovy Fish books.

And if you live in Auckland you can come to my Groovy Fish launch event at the Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop on Tuesday 16th July – 11 to 12. We will do exactly what I did in Wellington. See invite at the bottom of this post.



Happy because it is nearly time to start! Thanks for the divine coffee and orange juice Ruth xx


In 2014 children gave me the titles to kick start poems for my new Groovy Fish book

so I decided to give the titles back to children

when I launched the book in at Children’s Bookshop in Wellington on Wednesday.

What a gorgeous shop full to the brim with children’s books.



Helen and Austin

Ruth had set up an inviting space with cushions and an easel with paper – children turned up aged from maybe three to maybe eleven! Even adults came including the fabulous poet Belinda Wong. Poet Helen Rickerby brought her godson Austin – an extra keen young poetry writer! And the very lovely team from my publisher Cuba Press were there to join in: Mary, Sarah and Paul. (Mary did a stellar job writing down our group poems!


Reading from Groovy Fish, onlookers include Samantha, Oscar, Austin and Max (Max was writing a cool polar bear poem in his notebook!).




Samantha chooses a poem title.


I had cut up all the titles from my book and got children to pull one out of the fish bag – and then we made up poems together. Such fun! I am posting some below.

I had drawn groovy fish on paper so children could find a quiet spot and write their own poems and get to keep a drawing. I had also drawn little fish children put their names on – we pulled a few out and gave some of my original illustrations from the book away.




Oscar wrote a cool fish poem to take home inside the fish I drew.



Samantha got to take home the tap-dancing fish illustration.



And book signing time – which means more fish drawings! This for Anneke.


Here are some of our poems – all ideas were welcome – imaginations were springing to the moon and back! No words from me! Chocolate came up a lot!


The Highway Rat

Galloping on a cicada

the highway rat is off

to the shop to buy

chocolate to eat

with the fairies

in the tree house.



Lick Lick Riff

A very very very

very very very big

chocolate ice cream

melted to the ground

and an ant that had

been starving for weeks

on end licked

it all up!

Lick lick lick

lick lick lick

lick lick lick!


Tea with Aunty Lee

Aunty Lee is at the zoo

running skipping

farting observing

BUT!! an emu

is screaming, ‘LOOK OUT!

there’s an escaped

lion on the loose!’

The Tree House

Inside the tree house

a battered sofa

next to the leaves

like lollies

in the trees,

magical fairies eating


birds tweeting.


Swimming with an Alien



the green alien

with two heads

(well it’s lonely!)

has ten fingers on each hand

and is floating

like a squiggly worm.


Thank you everyone what a MAGNIFICENT occasion. I just loved it.





Poetry Box review: Kate DiCamillo’s Louisana’s Way home

My July Challenge: Recycling Groovy Fish titles

(July 10 WTN, July 16 AKLD)  My Groovy Fish events





Kate DiCamilo, Louisiana’s Way Home, Walker Books, 2019

‘Follow-up to the New York Times Bestselling Raymie Nightingale, from an internationally revered author, twice winner of the Newbery Medal.’


Louisiana Elefante wants to write her story down – she begins with her great-grandfather (he was a magician) who had laid down a ghastly curse. And then she begins with her Granny whipping her out of the house in the middle of the night and driving away saying the time had come! Mysterious yes! Curious yes!

Louisiana Elefante does not want to leave her home, friends, cat Archie and a one-eyed dog called Buddy. She does not want to go. She is desperate but they drive and drive until they run out of petrol and her granny gets such a ferocious toothache something must happen.

Louisiana Elefante is sad and cross and feels helpless but she is also a RESOURCEFUL girl which means she figures how to make the best of what she’s got. So (I will not tell you how) they end up in a small town in Georgia.

This story is so addictive with its twists and turns and secrets, with its sad patches and warm glows, I could not stop reading it.

I kept thinking I needed to light the fire but I kept reading.

I kept thinking I needed to pull the curtains but I kept reading.

I keep thinking I wanted a cup of peppermint tea but I kept reading.


I read and read and read in one big glorious gulp until there were no more pages left to read because I wanted to find out what happened to Louisiana.

I love the characters: especially the Burke Allen family (they are all called Burke Allen except the extremely lovely mum) and Reverend Obertask – and of course Louisiana.

This novel is all about belonging; about home, about families, friendships, secrets and the very best kindnesses. You will find cakes in here – I could almost smell the pineapple-upside-down cake all sticky and sweet – because Betty Allen (the mum) is a magnificent cake baker.

Some things stay hidden in this novel (perhaps that leaves room for another one) and we have to guess at things. Little gaps and guessing at things can be very rewarding when you read a book – especially when they are combined with characters so full of living you want to hug them.

This is a splendid FULL OF HUMAN WARMTH book – and now that I have finished it I can light the fire, and pull the curtains and make a cup of peppermint tea and let the whole thing run through my head again from the two beginnings to the ending. Perfect!


Walker author page

Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, for The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.







Poetry Box July challenge: recycling my Groovy Fish titles


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You might like to come to my Auckland and Wellington school holiday events. I will be read and writing poetry with you and have a lucky dip to give away two drawings at each event. If you have written a poem for this challenge bring it to show me!!



Well I am getting excited waiting for my copies of Groovy Fish to arrive in the post!

It was a long time in the making this book – and I had such fun doing the drawings and the little painting for the cover.

Writing poems when someone else gives you the titles is a very cool thing to do because it takes your imagination in a ZILLION new directions. Some titles were so challenging. I never knew where I would end up!

I loved the experience so much I decided to throw it back to you. You can try writing a poem using one of my titles.

° before you start writing make a list of words that jump into your mind as you look at the title – where will they carry you?

° listen to your poem when you have finished it

° try three different starts then pick your favourite

° try three different endings then pick your favourite

° try setting the poem out in 2 different ways

° do a drawing to go with it if you are in the mood

° don’t send it the day you write it – leave for a day or so (I left my poems for 2 years!) and listen to it again


See the titles below.


I will pick one poem per title to post at the end of JULY.

I will read all your poems at the end of the month.

I will give away 2 of my drawings and 2 copies of the books – lucky dip style!


Deadline: July 26th

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

Send to:

Don’t forget to put GROOVY FISH CHALLENGE in the subject line so I don’t miss your email.






h a v e   f u n

h a v e   e x t r a    s p e c i a l   p o e t r y   f u n









Poetry Box review: I Would Dangle the Moon by Amber Moffat




I would Dangle the Moon, Amber Moffat, MidnightSun Publishing, 2019



Ah I love moon poems and I love moon picture books. Amber Moffat’s debut picture book is a little gem. I adore the illustrations – my favourite so far in 2019. The colours are exquisite – a mix of pitch black night and sumptuous blues, purples and greens. I love the way the drawings are dreamlike yet real. they really are something quite special.

And now for the terrific story. The opening painting shows a mother telling her daughter a  bedtime story – this story! – and the listening girl becomes part of it.

The moon story builds along a refrain (a repeated start to the idea on each part):


If I were a farmer, I would plant the moon

in the middle of my field so you could watch

it crack the earth as it grew.


Turn the page and the farmer becomes a snail who carries the glowing moon on her back and takes the girl flying. All the house rooftops look like a patchwork quilt. It is utterly gorgeous.

You will find out what a jeweller, mountain, mother hen, baker, tree, ice cream maker,  dog and wave will do with the moon. And then you will reach the end of the story and find out what the mother and her daughter do.


It    is         m o o  n    s h i n e     g l o r i o u s!


Amber’s imagination leaps and drifts.

The writing is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

The ideas make shiny pictures glow like the moon in your head.


If I was an ice cream maker

I would scoop up the moon,

put it in a cone for you,

and sprinkle stars on top.


I love this book so much I am going to make my August poem challenge a moon poem challenge.

Find a copy of this beautiful, heart-warming book; then find a cosy cosy chair and lose yourself in the gleaming pages. Exquisite. Let me know what you think of it! (


Amber Moffat is a writer and visual artist living in Western Australia but Dunedin is her hometown. She was awarded a Paper Bird Fellowship in 2018 and completed the art work for I would Dangle the Moon (her debut picture book) during her residency at Freemantle’s Paper Bird Books and Arts.


MidnightSun Publishing author page








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