Monthly Archives: September 2019

Poetry Box: some favourite fable poems with a few fairytales, nursery rhymes and myths


Well I think I got a zillion emails with fable poems this month so it has taken me ages to read them all and write letters back.

I always get such a good feeling reading all your poems.

Only a few poems played with the idea of a fable – I loved reading fables when I was little. Lots of poems played with fairy-tale ideas, myths and some with nursery rhymes. So I only picked a few that weren’t fables.

Some poets made up their own fables and some were inspired by age-old ones. Daniel used the fable his sister Gemma had written when she was 7! I especially loved the way Tom told a fable in simple language so the story shone (not that you can’t tell a fable in rich language – poems can do anything. In fact Daniel’s poem is gloriously rich in words). I love the way the eyes of the lion and the cheetah glint in the middle of Tom’s poem and the different twists of cunning behaviour.

I also loved the way Josef borrowed from past things he had written to show how fairy tales are created. Genius!

So many treasures here from snow rabbits (Ivy) to why the kiwi has little wings (Olivia)

I am sending a copy of Groovy Fish to Tom and Olivia C.


check out my October challenge tomorrow!


The Lion and the Cheetah

In the grasslands

under an angry sun,

the cheetah was enjoying

her meaty lunch.


The minute she turned

her back, the lion pounced

and ran off with her meat.


The cheetah ran as fast

as a tornado, and

caught up with the lion thief.


“I challenge you

to a staring competition!”

she hissed at the lion.

“If I lose, you

can finish my lunch.”


The cheetah pushed her lunch

into a sack so

the ants wouldn’t eat it.


The two animals stared

at each other.  The lion

with his fierce coal eyes.

The cheetah with her

tear-stained eyes.


They stared and stared,

and watched and waited

and didn’t blink

and didn’t blink,

for ages and ages.


The sack with the lunch

was between the two

staring cats.  The lion

growing angry shouted,

“Look at the sun, it’s burning up!”


The cheetah looked up

and said, it doesn’t

look any different lion.”

When she looked down

the lion was running

off with the sack.


He had stolen a sack

of sand. The real

meat, she had hidden

in a termite cave.


She finished her tasty lunch

in the cave.  She heard

the lions fuming roar

five miles away.

Tom N Age 11 Year 6  Hoon Hay School – Te Kura Koaka


Snow rabbit

I see snow.
I see rabbit ears in the snow.
They are covered in jewels and the inside is blue.
The rabbit ears are dappled grey.
A blue nose pops out of the snow.
A curiously walk over and suddenly a rabbit pops up.
I can’t believe my eyes.
The rabbit is rainbow coloured and has white mittens on his feet.
I can barely make out mittens on his feet.
I decided to call him Mittens.
I creep towards Mittens.
All of a sudden he disappears into the snow.
I look down into the hole for the rabbit.
I call out to Mittens and was stunned when someone replied.
I suddenly fell into the hole.

Ivy M  age: 6   Y2  Ilam Primary School, Christchurch


Why kiwi can’t fly
Once there was a little kiwi his wings shone
Bright as bright as the moon
But one day he found a bug
This kind of bug is called a
Shrink bug
Kiwi ate it and his wings started to shrink!
That’s why kiwi can’t fly

Olivia C Age 8  Y4   Fendalton Open Air School


The Ugly Duckling

A different looking duckling was born one sunny day
In a meadow he was bullied for he wore a colour rather strange
The poor little duckling didn’t fit in with the others
He was brown like a tree not yellow like his brothers

One day he decided TOO MUCH Then he ran away

No one would accept him as one of their kind
Not the ducks nor the chickens nor the horses behind
Poor little duckling lived alone in the hay
Feeling hungrier and hungrier every rainy and sunny day

He grew stronger and stronger as the days zoomed past
Until one day he was beautiful and purposeful at last
A scaly brown dragon he flew up into the sky
Breathing fire through the day and all through the night

Never laugh at someone who is ugly and/or weird
They might just turn out like the dragon we have here

Skylarose H  Age 10 Year 6 Maoribank School


What I did

I was in the Ice age
Mammoths made rotten wolf stew
I also swam to Atlantis
People didn’t plan forests
But somehow they grew
My bird friend
Helped me scale the clouds
So I could build candy land
I also created unicorn land
With children just as glad

Eileen C Age 9  Ilam School



Wolves howling on the forest floor
There’s no way to see them through a magic door
As they howl on the tip of the mountain top
If I wake, and climb up, then I’ll shout stop stop!
It scampers up and down Mount Cook
As I’m fast asleep like a fairy tale book
When the clock strikes midnight, the full moon is in its place
When it starts howling the moon shows its fierce scary face

Ashley C  Age – 7   Year – 2  Ilam School


How Fairy Tales are Created

First take a bucket of bubblespark water

from the Wishing Waterfall of the West.


Next pluck a feather from a roosting rosella

on top of Mount Shiverfrost.


Next go deep into the Volcano of Vulturetop

and take four sparks from the fire that is frozen in time.


Next pick a Goddess Berry from the Alive Wood,

just south of Dwarfton.


In Dwarfton, buy all the colours

from the Rambious Rainbow.


Ride the rainbow to Tipsy Topsy Town,

where you will need to steal a Silver Spiral.


Trek to the Prehistoric Lake and

dive down deep to collect a triceratop’s tusk.


Finally take all the ingredients to Buccaneer Cove

and watch the sun set.


When the first star appears in the sky,

you will have a fairy tale.


“Every world is interconnected”

An explanation:

I was thinking about how different things are connected and how small our world really is. I thought – what if all my writing came from the same world?

●       The Alive Wood came from a story I wrote in year 2

●       Trekking to the Prehistoric Lake connected with my 2018 story about going to Vietnam

●       Buccaneer Cove came from a poem I wrote about Johnson’s Point

●       Mount Ruapehu in my Pouwhenua poem, became Mount Shiverfrost


Jozef B   Age 11   Year 6   Three Kings School


Little Miss NONSENSE


Little Miss Muffet,

Fell off her tuffet,

While building her house of bamboo.


The clock struck one,

She began to run,

But she forgot to grab her shoe!

Olivia C   Year 6   Age 11  Three Kings School


Why Ants Invade Houses

(Based on a Myth by Gemma)


A powerful sorceress

In a massive fortress

In the middle of the ocean

Conjuring creatures


Dragons and werewolves

Serpents and giants

But fearing to make

The Fierce Ant!


Half alien, half insect

Powerful and cunning

Only controlled by

A maze of extraordinary dimensions


A risky creation

With unimaginable rewards

Its intelligence and strength

Hiding an ancient secret


A creature that clones

Multiplying like a mathematician

In a quiet place with no boundaries

It is invincible


The sorceress dared

Sailing the oceans

Gathering magical items

Conducting the terrible experiment


Under the full moon

Chanting mysteriously

“Ancient beast, Ye shall feast,

Upon the things, Ye like the least…”


The enormous beast unleashed

Threw his creator up high

Left to clone an army

Snarling “I will rule the world”


The horrified sorceress

Conjured a maze

Its extraordinary dimensions

Disguised as a house


The ants entered the house maze

Power diminishing, size shrinking

No quiet place, boundaries all around

Condemned to life in a Labyrinth


But every now and then

Seeing freedom through a window

Finding the power to clone its tiny self

An army of small ants marches on


And that is why ants invade houses

Daniel L Age 11, Year 6, Adventure School



Once there was a dragon,
It had beautiful colourful scales,
And it swam with the whales
It could deliver mail,
But sometimes it would fail
It turns up at the wrong house,
And finds a mouse
The mouse took the mail,
And bit the dragon on the tail

Alyssa B Year 4   Age 8   Fendalton Open Air School


The Tortoise and the Hare

In 1989 there was a tortoise and a hare. One day the tortoise bragged about being able to beat the hare’s child in a race. The next day the big hare told his sporty daughter Emma to race tortoise. She accepted and hopped to the starting line. The tortoise was already there.

The face began. The Emma jogged, not knowing tortoise had hidden fireworks in his shell. In the middle of the race, tortoise lit the fuse, speeding past her. Then…BOOM!!! the fireworks exploded, firing tortoise into the air. Emma found her chance, speeding to the finish line. Emma won the race.

When she got home, her parents were so happy, but they found a burnt tortoise in their garden. Oh no!!!!!

Lucy K   9 years old Year 4 Ilam School


T h a n k   y o u !





Poetry Box celebrations: visiting Te Totara Primary School in Hamilton



The river is deep

The river is dark

The fish follow

wherever the river


Shiny sparkly soft

The river is never ending

Rotem Y3



Yesterday I spent the whole day at Te Totara School in Hamilton and it was utterly wonderful. I did interactive poetry sessions with large groups ( 5 to 9 classes in each session) and ended with a writing workshop for 20 students Y3 – Y6.

I loved this welcoming school so much – the children were hooked on poetry, they listened and they joined in – and what fun we had making up poems together.

It was a long drive back to the wild West Coast of Auckland but I felt like I was glowing with poetry after such a nourishing school visit. It was as good as the Madame Woo dumplings I had had for dinner and the Turkish eggs I had had for breakfast at the the River Kitchen. And the mushroom pie librarian Michelle got me for lunch.

Poetry is like comfort food. It makes you feel so so good.

We only had time to do two poems in the writing workshop but I challenged the students with the second poem. I wanted them to search their memory banks and try writing a river poem. I kept getting glimpses of the river and was musing on how the Waikato River is like a magnet. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I saw it in the city as I ate my dumplings and as I drove to the school. I kept thinking the river is such a rich place of story, history, experience.

Thank you Te Totara Primary School and Read NZ for the chance to share poetry with your terrific students!




The rain comes down

roaring thunder rain

pouring down


Rain on the water

dripping on the roof




Y2 classes









Poetry Box review: The Runaways by Ulf Stark




It is a lazy Sunday morning and I just gobbled up a children’s book (junior fiction) in one sitting. It is a delicious ONE GULP book!

The Runaways by Ulf Stark

illustrated by Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press

Gottfried Junior’s grandfather is in hospital with a broken leg and he is very cross and very grumpy and swears a lot. Gottfried Junior doesn’t mind that his grandfather is badly behaved. He does mind that his Dad can’t be bothered going to the hospital every weekend because he always has more important things to do (like doing a crossword!).

So one day Gottfried Junior makes a cunning plan with his grandfather and Adam the baker. With Adam’s help the old man and the young boy are going to run away for the weekend to the happy island – the place where Grandpa had lived with Grandma.

I love this story because it is all about being young and all about being old – and when to lie and not to lie. It is also a book about being close to death – next to the person dying and being the person about to die. Tough but important.

The story is also about taking risks and finding ways to do things that make you and the people close to you happy.

I love Gecko Press books because they know children’s books come in all shapes and sizes and can do all kinds of things.

Someone once told me that children’s books shouldn’t have old people as the main characters! I have always wondered what children think. Would children love this book as I do?  Is it ok to write grandfather stories? I think it is!

In this book Gottfried Junior knows some things about life and how to do things because he has read books. He also knows some things about life because of the time he spent with his grandfather. Maybe someone will read this book and think about their own grandfather or grandmother – about being a grandson or granddaughter.

A very delicious book that will make you feel warm inside, a little bit sad and a big bit daring!

Gecko Press page

Poetry Box noticeboard: Gecko Press posts some of my favourite children’s poetrybooks

You can find my list here

My new book Groovy Fish is in debt to all of these! I am inspired by the way these poets play – especially with sound. I am sparked by their leaping imaginations and their engagements with the world we live in. Characters and places come to life. Sometimes a poem is only a few lines but it sings in your ear or heart like a starry universe.

These poets show that poetry is the perfect playground for readers and writers whatever age you are.

Thanks Gecko Press for inviting me to do this.

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Poetry Box noticeboard: To celebrate Groovy Fish The Sapling interviews Paula Green

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Full interview with Jane Arthur here


Poetry is an enormous part of your life! So I ask: why poetry? What’s so great about it?

Ah, I have loved poems since I was very, very young, because I loved writing that sounded good when I performed it.

No matter what has been going on in my life (all the peaks and hurdles), poetry fits in beautifully, like a little knapsack I can take anywhere. Poetry can do anything: it can be small like breath on a fogged window or big like a storm. For me, reading and writing poetry is like an energy boost that makes me feel good.

Poetry Box September challenge: fable poems


Since I was little I have loved reading fables and even making up fables.

I also like the way poets have been rewriting fairy tales to show a modern twist – especially when they make girls stronger and smarter.

Your challenge this month is to write a fable poem or a fairy-tale poem.

You can update one from the past and make it fresh and surprising or you can make up one of your own. Or you tell an old favourite in a poem and stick to the original.

Fables often have a secret little messages – like little lessons on how to be good humans. Like how to be a good friend or what happens if you are greedy or aggressive or mean!


Top tips!

Listen to what you write to spot lines you stumble on.

Build the scene with some strong detail (nouns and verbs help).

Test out three different endings.

Play with how many words on the line.

Save for a few days before you send it to me.


Deadline: 26th September

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

Don’t forget to put fable poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to:

Some favourite poems: I read all your emails at the end of the month and will post some favourites on 30th Sept. I will have at least one book to give away but it is a challenge not a competition.