Monthly Archives: October 2019

Poetry Box: Some favourite happy poems from our October challenge


baking bread makes me happy!

and writing poems

and reading your poems!


A RECORD number of poems arrived in my email box this month I am sure

I was driving in the car this morning listening to people talk about what makes them happy. I really like the way little things make me happy – like watching the wind blow the mānuka or our cats sleeping in cardboard boxes they have discovered or picking a fresh tomato from the garden or listening to music. I have happy times with friends and family and happy times when I am outside in the bush or at the beach. Doing my blogs makes me happy, writing makes me happy and reading all your poems makes me extra happy.

Here I am sipping peppermint tea, about to read a whole month of happy poems, and I feel happy at the thought!

many hours later  ……

It has taken me ages to read and write back to you because there were so many happy poems which is a good thing! But the sad thing is for every amazing poem I posted here there are swags of amazing poems I didn’t pick.

Do have a scroll through and hunt for a poem that makes you feel HAPPY. There are some little beauties.


I put all the names in a hat and picked Lucy to send a copy of my new poetry book  Groovy Fish.


Check out my last challenge of the year tomorrow (although I may have some pop up ones)


Silly swirly sliding paint
across a blank and perfect paper.

Splish splosh
I dip again a ruby red
a berry blue
a perfect pink
a pretty purple
and can’t forget the turtle teal.

Splash sploosh I dip again
a yummy yellow
a grass green
a woolly white
a forest fuchsia
Just slither in a snake silver.

Silly swirly sliding paint
Across a blank and perfect paper.
Slip slide I finish up
a grumpy gray
a blitzing black
Ending with a glitter gold.

Ella M Age 10 Year 5 Westmere School


My happy writing
I feel joyful when it comes to animals
when a smile is on someone’s face
it really makes my day great
I feel awesome when I succeed
at something I’m not good at
and that makes me feel like a light-hearted girl
joyful is the colour of yellow
like bananas and corn

Kylesha M Age 6 Maoribank School


I’ll paint a picture

I’ll paint a picture in my head
I’ll paint a bed some bread my best friend Jed
I’ll paint a picture in my head
A stalk of grass a jar of brass a dog a frog a log a bog
I’ll paint a cook a nook an odd looking book maybe a trick a brick
A slobbery lick I’ll paint a hat a rat a chocolate cat a beak a leak
A smelly creek I’ll paint some ears some chairs but never
Of all the pictures I could paint
…..I think I’ll go outside instead….

Laki P Aged 8 LS5 Westmere School


The warm breeze brushing against my face,
Resting on the balcony listening to the sea reading my book,
Seeing the blossom sway in the wind,
Relaxing in the pool,
Hearing birds chirp in the morning,
Watching a movie in the rain,
Having fun with your friends,
Sleeping in your big bunk bed with your dog,
Building a fort,
Skiing on the snowy mountains,
Biking in the sun,
Talking to your soft bear,
Playing monopoly with your sister
and smiling when you hug your mum.

Eddie K  Age: 10, Y5, Fendalton School


The Travelling Balloon

I sent a message in a balloon
It floated over turtles, dolphins and coral in Hawaii,
It floated over the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland,
It floated over the Grand Canyon,
It floated over The Statue of Liberty in New York,
It floated over polar bears on icebergs,
And it floated through the open window
Of my Aunty and Uncle’s apartment in Paris.

“Please send me
the Eiffel Tower,
three passionfruit macaroons
and a fresh, crusty baguette.”

Lucy P Age 10 yrs Three Kings School


The snow falls

Children come out to play

They make snowballs

That makes it fun every day

The skating begins

On the ice

I wish I could do twirls and spins

Hot chocolate time

It’s very nice


Ashley C  Age: 7 Year 2, Ilam School


Living with a Cat

Gray and ginger legs
nudge my arms for food,
A soft sleepy purr
calms my nerves,
A glossy, bossy friend
who loves me end to end,
A positive bundle
of all the best things,
A nosy whiskered spy
to help me find the culprit,
And a royal, loyal friend
Now… who wouldn’t want a cat?

Anna P 10 years  Three King School

I wish I had a cat

I wish I had a cat,
But I don’t.
It would lie on the mat,
I love it when a cat does that.

I wish I had a cat,
But I don’t.
It would be fat.
And fluffy. Obviously.

I wish I had a cat,
But I don’t.
It would wander around wanting a pat.
But that’s not going to happen.

I wish I had a cat.
But I don’t.

Leo D LS5 Age 9 Westmere School

Recipe for Happiness
1. Imagination – let it free.
2. Corn – eat it up.
3. Cheetahs – watch them run.
4. Yellow – let it paint.
5. Science – let it create.
6. Books – read them quiet, read them louder.
7. Exploring – discover and look.
8. Art – colour colour colour.
9. Poetry – be writing.

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



There is a feeling that is joyful.
But also can be quite silly.
But the Joyful feeling well is better.
Because the silly one just gets you in trouble.
This feeling is better than any other feeling.
Most people like this feeling the most.
But grumpy people absolutely don’t like it.

Alex D  Age 8  Y4  Fendalton School

A not happy poem

This is not a happy poem,
This is a grey miserable poem!

There are no cats
cheerfully singing hello,

There are no dogs
doing yoga,

There are no bears
drawing themselves.

This is not a happy poem!!

Dana C Aged 9 years Three Kings School



He returns

I heard a gentle knock on the door.
I was going to wait for Mum,
but I was as eager
as a group of lions with an African Buffalo
to see if it was my Father.
I gingerly opened the door.
To my surprise it was Dad.
A warm sensation filled my whole body.
From that day on everything felt right.


Alice M I am 12 years old, Y7, Selwyn House School



His fur is
as soft as

His teeth are
as sharp as

His tail is
as straight as
a pole.

His breath
smells like
a reeking
rubbish bin.

His eyes are
as brown as
dark chocolate.

His hips sway
side to side
like an unstoppable

His eyes light
up with excitement
when I come
home from school.

He snores like a
little mouse when it

Olive W  Age: 10 Year: 5 Westmere School


A Sunny Summer’s Day

A sunny
Summer’s day
Brings out joy
For me
For you
Or even a toy!

Slappy, sloppy
On soft skin.
Ice cream dribbles
Down children’s chins
As popsicle wrappers
In a bin.

Tall palm trees
Stretch up to the sky,
As seagulls
Swoop by in a
Blink of an eye.

Hours go by
As surfers ride
like a horse galloping,
away with pride.

A nice evening
pushing in,
With fish ‘n chips.
A young free family,
Licks their lips.

It’s time to say
A sweet goodnight,
To him to her
To mum
Who yells…

Isla R  Age: 10 Year: 5 Westmere School


Things that make me happy

When I wake up to a beautiful sunshine
When my mum wakes up to “Hi darling”
When my baby brother goes “lego, lego ” and smiles
When lovely cooked pancakes are made
Oooooooo so yummy!!!!!!!
Boom! My brother bursts with happiness
When I’m playing Roblox with my friends
When Max – my dog plays Fetch
Flowers are so pretty – pink, purple, yellow
so joyful instead

Olivia KB Age 8 Maoribank School




I feel like a shooting star that just kept on going through the universe,
I feel as though the sun looks.
I am as relaxed as a cat on cloud nine,
I am as hyperactive as a kid who has had bubblegum.
I feel like I’m sitting on a park bench alone and someone comes up to me and said “hello can I please sit here”
I feel like I’m home

Charlie  age: 9  Y5  Fendalton School

Dancing Shoes!

Tiptoe, tiptoe,
across the floor
Swing my arms,
like never before
When I’m excited,
I’m dancing like mad
But when I’m not dancing,
I’m very very sad !!!

Bravo! said the examiner !!!

Eliana  Age 8 LS 5 Westmere School



Playing with my friends
makes me say that word,
going on play dates
makes me say it, but I don’t want to,
especially writing poems
makes me say it,
but I just can’t say that word.

I feel it but I can’t say it,
that word,
I want you to see the word
without me saying it,
it’s a five-lettered word
but I just can’t spoil the clever word!

I will give you a clue,
…it starts with the letter H and ends with Y.

Alex Q Age 11 Three Kings School


The Picnic

We have a family picnic.
we laugh and we have fun.
we put on our sunglasses.
Now out comes the Sun.
We set the picnic blanket
so much food, there is a lot.
Dad says put on sunscreen,
it’s getting very hot.
The clouds come along.
Dad starts to moan.
The rain F D
L N.
We all go home.

William Age 9  LS5 Westmere School

I love dogs

Spotty dogs
Dotty dogs
Lounging on the floor dogs.

Sporty dogs
Naughty dogs
Running round the park dogs.

Big dogs
Small dogs
Very, very slow dogs.

But my dog’s
the best there is.

James W Age 7 LS5 Westmere School


Marvellous Matilda’s birthday
Makes me excited.
We play…
Pass the parcel,
Chocolate in a pocket,
Hide and seek,
They all make me glad
But most of all
My friends make me
Thrilled and joyful.
That’s what makes me excited…
Birthday parties.

Matilda Age 8 LS5 Westmere School


The things that make me happy

This fills me with joy
Something special has arrived
not a toy nor a book
not big but not small
but a perfect baby there
so I feel blissed

Ilah L Age 8 Maoribank School





Treasure is not gold, jewels and coins.
Treasure is about being happy,
With people you love,
A wonderful home,
Amazing friends,
Marvellous meals,
Spectacular sights,
Soft cuddly toys,
Thrilling laughter and


Eddie K Age:10  Y5 Fendalton School




These are the things that make me happy
All of these things make me feel sappy

One : My cat is black
And sleeps on a chair
And for most of the day she cleans herself there.

Two: I like to read books, all kinds of books
In fact my favourite place is the library
Each time I enter I feel so merry!

Three: Friends are friends
and even if friends end
friends find a way to put friends on the mend.

Four: Snow and ice
I think it’s so nice
You can make Snowmen
Till the snow does end,
Or maybe a snowball
which I think is so cool.

So now you know what makes me happy
Now you know what makes me sappy!

Mahinaarangi W Age 10 Richmond Road School TWW


Joyful Jolie

The things of
Joyful Jolie.
Sleeping gives me
A warm feeling
You can sleep
Anywhere, even
On the ceiling.
I do snore, like
A dinosaur
Stomping on
The floor.

Jolie P Year 6 age 10 Te Whanau Whariki Richmond Rd School
Rollercoaster Toaster!

Windy dindy
Happy dappy
Nappy… urghhhh!
Slappy happy
Wippy! Dippy
Paora S Age 11 Richmond road school Te Whanau Whariki.



Cousin Time
Tick tick ding
Its time to bounce
A cousin here and a cousin there
We finish-up
Off to my house
Nachos for tea
We made a tent
Why melt down?
Looks like your tired
Settle down
Close your eyes
Dream out loud

Maria B 7 yearsYear 2 Ilam School

The Sun’s Job

The sun wakes up
and floats up into the sky
The sun pushes all the darkness away
and lights up the world with happiness
The wind blows the happiness across the world
Looking down on the world below
The sun puts smiles on everyone underneath her
It spreads quickly like a light turning on and off again
She watches the children run to school
just in time for the bell
She watches the mums and dads going to work in the morning
and coming back at night
Soon it is time for the sun to rest
So it was time for the sun to go to sleep
Ready to light the world up with happiness tomorrow


Tilly 10 years old  Selwyn House School

Heart poem

The smell of yorkshire pudding,
Filling my house on a frosty evening,
Staring through the frosty window,
Snowman staring back,
The feeling of the fire burning,
Warming me up on a frosty evening,
Makes me feel delighted,
The sound of birds calling to each other,
Warms my heart.

Chloe D Age-9 Year-5  Selwyn House School




Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 3.03.10 PM.png

Daniel L Year 6, Age 11 Adventure School

Poetry Box review: Sophie Dahl’s Madame Badobedah




Madame Badobedah Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara, Walker Books


Some days you just feel blah. You read a bit of this and write a bit of that and nothing quite does the trick! The sky might be dishwater grey and the wind might be bending the mānuka. The cats might be mewing for dinner hours early.

On that kind of day you need to pick up a fabulous picture book (this fabulous book!) because it’s the kind of picture book that will lift you up and dazzle you. Yes the writing is dazzling. I keep reading a sentence and it is like I have drunk a whole glass of sparkling water I feel so refreshed.

‘Madame Badobedah walked silently behind, arrow-straight, carrying nothing but a cushion with the tortoise balanced on it like a precious, scaly emerald.


This is Sophie Dahl’s first book for children and WOW she is a story and word whizz! The illustrations by Lauren O’Hara are exquisite, magical, watercoloury. Lauren is also a whizz.


The story:

Mabel lives in The Mermaid Hotel with her mum and dad, not a hotel really but a bed and breakfast by the sea. She adores going without shoes and adores ADVENTURES along with ‘Swiss cheese, the number eight, donkeys and Yorkshire puddings (I call them orchard puddings)’. She hates ‘being told what to do, spiders, ham and plimsols’.  Fair enough!

Mabel doesn’t have any siblings but she does have the hotel rooms (when there are no guests in them) and every room has a secret!

One day an old old old woman with bright red lipstick arrives with a zillion suitcases and boxes, two dogs and two cats  – oh and a tortoise on a cushion. She seems to be a little bit grumpy and a little bit snooty and a big bit MYSTERIOUS!

Mabel  – who I have already told you loves ADVENTURES – has decided the new guest is a supervillain on the run from the police with all her stolen loot. Mabel doubles as Mable the Spy so spends a lot of time spying and trying to solve the mystery of Madame Badobehdah.

Now that I have you hooked, you will have to read the book for yourself – you will discover the secret in Room 32 (where Madame Badobehdah stays with her menagerie). You will also discover that underneath the grumpy snooty mystery layers of Madame Badobedah is an altogether different woman who perhaps likes ADVENTURE as much as Mabel.

This is what a good book can do – it can whisk you away on a symphony of words, on the coat-tails of a jolly good story with a healthy dose of imagination and humour.  I love the fact there is a feisty, daring, original girl at the heart of the book who knows exactly what she wants but is always willing to change her mind.

Marvellous! Magnificent! Magnifique!


Walker Books page



Poetry Box: Dear Joy Cowley letters, aroha nui from us all



To celebrate the arrival of  Joy Cowley’s magnificent new book of poems and stories published by Gecko Press (with zany illustrations by Giselle Clarkson), I invited a few people to join me in writing letters to Joy – two children, a parent and an author.

Here is my review of the book.


Joy can listen to me read the letters:



Dear Joy Cowley

For a long time I have wanted to see your poetry for children back in print – so how delightful to see the gorgeous new edition of your stories and poems published by Gecko Press. Your poems fill me with happiness – they are playful and have such an elastic imagination and fine ear at work children adore them.

I have always loved your commitment to writing for children – not just in the glorious stories and poems you write but in your engagement with children. I am thinking of the letters you write them, the way you pay attention to their dreams and experiences, the support you give the fabulous Storylines and the ongoing support you give writers.

To be a writer is a very private thing but it is also a public thing – and you have shown how to inhabit the world with generosity, kindness and empathy. This matters.

Like so many other people, I have had a long history of reading your work, by myself and with my daughters, and it has enriched our lives with wisdom, humour and humaneness.

To celebrate the arrival of your wonderful new book I have invited a few others to write to you too – some children, a parent and an author.

Ngā mihi

Paula Green


Dear Joy,

Your poems are incredible, fascinating and full of fun! Every word on the page jumps like a tiger and soars like an eagle! I used to read your poems when I was younger, they helped me through a tough time. When I felt the weight of the world, your poems lifted me back up. I’m so grateful that there are amazing people like you creating stories and poems that brighten people’s days. I hope, aspire, and dream to be able to make poems like yours one day.

Thank you

from Gabbie, age 12,  Newlands intermediate



Dear Joy

I am writing to you with a big thank you for the amazing stories you have created for every kind of reader.

In a teaching setting, I use your stories no matter what age group I am working with.  I love starting the youngest ones on a path to a love of reading with the wonderful characters in the Mrs. Wishy Washy books.  My older, often struggling, readers always draw affinity with dear Greedy Cat (who is not so secretly my favourite of your characters).  And I can sit back and enjoy reading aloud the likes of Dunger and Speed of Light to my Year 7/8 groups.  Indeed, if a Joy Cowley book comes out in any class, everyone smiles.

At home, our bookshelves are lined with your work, as my children will always share that you are their favourite author.  The reason?  Because of your style, your imagination, but most of all because you have always been there.  They have grown up with, and through, your stories.  You have inspired their own writing, and presented opportunities for them to explore and develop that.  Each child has a copy of Just One More right beside their bed, ready for those times when they just want to wind down with a familiar favourite.

And for me personally, when I read about you, I am filled with admiration.  Your amazing life of flying planes, motorbike riding, woodturning and more is so inspiring… so many adventures to be had!  Amongst all that, you have given us all adventures of our own, through your writing.   You accept challenges for what they are, and get on with the doing.  And somehow, you have always had time for everyone, replying to fan mail, participating in local events, and helping young writers on their way.

You are a truly astonishing person, and I am so grateful for all you do.  I can’t wait to read “Silence” once it is published.  The kids are not the only ones who seek out Joy Cowley books!

Warm regards

Robyn Lovewell, Wellington


Dear Joy

I am writing to say how much I appreciate you and your wonderful stories!

I honestly don’t know which is my favorite, there are so many.  Snake and LizardThe Wild West GangHero of The HillBow Down Shadrach? But the book that lives by my bed is Just One More, which I still read all the time…with dragons in libraries and horses on escalators and then of course Jack and his hole that follows him around – that one makes me laugh even when I tell other people the story.

There is a good reason why you are so famous and probably NZ’s favourite author.  Your junior books always have funny bits in them.  Your older kids fiction books always have something to make you think.  And you have such a variety of books, long stories, short readers, poems, little kid books, grown up books.  There is something for everyone in what you have written.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like a Joy Cowley book.

I hope that more stories can jump out of your head so there will be even more Joy Cowley books to fill up the C shelf at the library.

Thank you for being such an awesome writer.


Daniel L, Year 6, Adventure School, Wellington


Dear Joy

When Beth and I dropped in to see you a few years back, you gave us an excellent lunch; spilled a bit on yourself and said “Oh, Great!”; showed us the glowing wood work you were doing in your workshop, talked about kindness and spirituality, mentioned mutual friends with affection, and asked after MY writing.

I thought this was so typical of you – generous, wry, adventurous and versatile, sincere, always aware of others. Many people will talk about your writing, which I admire just this side idolatry, but I wanted to mention you. You are a joy to know. Every time I meet you, I go away feeling affirmed and loved. Live for ever!!

David Hill



Poetry Box review festival – Some favourite sun poems


Abigail and the Birth of the Sun, Matthew Cunningham with illustrations by Sarah Wilkins,  Puffin (Penguin Random House)


Three playful sun poems to wrap up my Poetry Box review festival. I loved doing this and loved the keen responses. Thanks everyone! My blog wouldn’t work without you.

Abigail and the Birth of the Sun is a gorgeous book – you can read my review here.

I picked these  three sun poems because one plays with rhyme, one plays with the name of the sun and one creates a concrete poem with the factual beams forming the light of the sun. I will send a secret giveaway to Paora and Gabbie.

I will be posting my November Poetry Box challenge on the first of the month!




The Sun

The sun.
You are
You make
taste amazing.
You make
The Sun!

Paora S, Te Whanau Whariki ,Age11, Richmond Road School



Sun poem

As bright as can be
Its colours shout with glee
“Look at me!
Look at me please
Witness my beauty!”
But if you were to
You would see nothing but
The radiating light
The shining glare
And the pale yellow
It is no sun
It is a star in disguise
It holds our planet captive
In its never ending grasp
It is a star
It is our solar system’s star
Yet we call it Sun

Gabbie R, 12 years old, Year 8, Newlands Intermediate


Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 6.49.30 AM.png


Daniel L Year 6, Age 11  Adventure School





h a  p p y    p o e t r y    d a y s







Poetry review festival: some favourite Tupaia and ocean poems



The Adventures of Tupaia, Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait, Allen & Unwi

My review


Thank you for sending in poems for this challenge. It is such a special book.

I put the names in the hat and picked out Daniel’s. So I am actually going to send him a copy of The Adventures of Tupaia (thanks to Allen & Unwin) – he had read about him in a School Journal article and on line. I think he will LOVE the book!

I only picked three ocean poems – I picked three that had different ocean flavours and moods.





A man of many talents


High priest




Fled conflict on Ra’iātea

Befriended botanist Banks

Joined the Endeavour




Celestial navigator


Arrived in New Zealand

Conversed with Māori.



Cultural advisor

Bringer of news from ancestral islands


250 years later,

We are barely beginning to know

This man of mana


Daniel L Year 6, Age 11  Adventure School



The Ocean

Waves shifting
It is ominous
It is strange
It is unfamiliar
It is the ocean

A small boat
Dwarfed by a ship
Floating next to it
A never ending moat
It is giant
It is mysterious
It is massive
It is the ocean

Gabbie R, 12 yrs old, Y8 Newlands Intermediate



I am a gentle salmon
slowly gliding through the water
like a bird in the breeze.
I go through big waves across the ocean and feed on insects
some times I get chased by sharks but I get away.
The strong current pushing me home.

Jonny A, Year 3, age 7, Ilam School


Ocean turtle

I’m a leather-back sea turtle traveling across the ocean
Coral swaying gently as I glide through the water
Turtles swimming slowly past me
As I quickly swim past.
Boats rowing above me.
Snowy white sea otters paddling past me quickly.

Ivy M, age 6, Y2,  Ilam Primary School, Christchurch






Poetry Box review festival and POP-Up challenge 5: Matthew Cunningham and Sarah Wilkin’s Abigail and the Birth of the Sun



Abigail and the Birth of the Sun, Matthew Cunningham with illustrations by Sarah Wilkins,  Puffin (Penguin Random House)


Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!


FRIDAY review


I really love the start to this book:


As Abigail got ready for bed,

she thought of a big question.

It was so big she couldn’t think about anything else.


It was such a big and important question Abigail thought about it whatever she was doing. She was so worried the big question would keep her awake she decided to ask her dad. And when she asked him where the planets and the sun came from he told her they came from stardust just as she did.

Her dad pulled the curtains and they gazed at the night sky (and so did the sleek black cat!). As they gazed into the mysterious black with its planets and stars gleaming he tells Abigail about the birth of the sun.

I really like the way the story is based on facts but the characters in the story (the big old star, the cloud of stardust, the new Sun, a family of planets) have feelings. This is the story of how our solar system came into being – told simply and eloquently.

What stands out in the writing and the illustrations is both a sense of wonder and wondrous things happening. Things that you can put into words but things that are greater than words.

I think Matthew and Sarah must have had such fun working on this because one of the main ingredients in the ink and paint (I am not sure how they wrote or drew but you get what I mean) is love. A love of writing and love of painting and drawing. It shows.

I loved the middle bit – the bright drawings with little fascinations – and the tenderly crafted story with an equal dose of fascinations.

But I especially love the ending because it brings me right back to the way curiosity is such an important part of being human, and how curious questions can make a dad and his daughter share in the wonder of things:


“Daddy,” asked Abigail,

“if I am made of stardust,

does that mean I can shine

like a star too?”

Daddy smiled.

“You will shine brighter than

all of the stars in the sky.”


Abigail falls into a sweet sleep but by morning she as a new question – let’s hope there will be a sequel.

Ah, I feel like I have filled with gleam and good feelings reading this beautifully-produced book. I just love it.


Matthew lives with his wife and daughter Abigail in Wellington. He is an historian with a Doctor of Philosophy, and he has published all kinds of history writing. This is his first picture book for children. At kindergarten he wrote ‘The Clock’ but he didn’t know how to follow lines and said it looked more like alphabet soup.

Sarah was the middle child of seven who dreamed of being an explorer. She loved dreaming and drawing so she became an illustrator, an award-winning illustrator (because illustrating involves dreaming and drawing!). She lives in Wellington.



FRIDAY POP-UP challenge:


Let’s write sun poems.

1   Hunt for sun words and similes. Draw a sun and fill it with the collected words!

2   How many sun verbs can you find?

3    Do a test pot of similes – which surprises you?

4    Do you know or can find any fascinating sun facts?

5.   Use your senses as you get curious. What makes you curious about the sun?

6.   How does your poem sound as you read it?

7    Do you need to make up a word?

8    How will you set your sun poem out?



Deadline: 28th October 9 am

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

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

Send to:

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 28th October. I will have at least one secret give away!





Poetry Box review festival: Some favourite dolphin poems




Here are some poems inspired by Ruth Paul’s Little Hector dolphin books (Penguin Random House).

I put all the names in the hat and picked out ROBBIE to send a secret giveaway.



The Dolphin Dive

I want to be a dolphin,
because they jump up high…
and then they come back down again,
and it looks like they do fly…
But when they go back down,
they make a click
and whistle sound…
and a…

Sofia C LS2 Age 6 Westmere School Auckland


A Dolphin

A dolphin is a wild animal.
Dolphins have fins to protect themselves.
Orcas chase dolphins…
they swim as fast as a shark.
Dolphins are amazing.

George A LS2 Age 6 Westmere School Auckland


A Dolphin’s Splash

Dolphins leap up in the air
like a flying fish.
Dolphins are very fast
because they need to catch their prey.
Dolphins are as fast as a sail fish.
Dolphins are very cool!

Robbie J LS2 Age 5 Westmere School Auckland




Platinum over white

The orca’s little cousins

Slice through the sea

As sleek and silent as torpedoes

Sticking together like peas in a pod

They dance through the waves

Chittering, chattering

Searching out the surface

Gliding beneath

Surging upwards

Flying above

Nature’s acrobats

Our precious taonga

New Zealand’s endangered offspring


Daniel  L Age 11, Year 6   Adventure School


Hector’s dolphin

Black and white,
I am the tiniest of all,
and the rarest marine.
Only live in New
Zealand’s shallow
Coastal water. I chase after ferries.
I may look
Like a killer whale.
But I am as friendly as a person,

Olivia C  Age 8  Year 4   Fendalton Open Air School


Hector’s Dolphins

They are small
Of them all.
Also known as Maui’s dolphin.
Living in the bright ocean.
Marine animals,
Little and sleek and small.
Bright black snout and snowy white.
Living in New Zealand
And being loved.

Mia W Age 8 Year 4 Fendalton Open Air School

Poetry Box review festival and POP-UP challenge 4: Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait’s The Adventures of Tupaia


The Adventures of Tupaia Courtney Sina Meredith with illustrations by Mat Tait,

Allen & Unwin  – author page


Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!



Tupaia was the incredible Tahitian priest navigator who sailed on the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first journey to Aotearoa.

Allen & Unwin worked with Auckland Museum to publish this magnificent book to accompany the museum’s exhibition: Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour

The exhibition is on from 13 September 2019 until 15 March 2020 at Auckland Museum.


The book is a significant arrival because it brings into view stories from our past, and the important role Tupaia played in the first encounters between Aotearoa’s tangata whenua and Cook and his crew. Tupaia was a navigator but he was also a translator, a cultural interpreter and an artist.

It is important that our stories are seen from multiple views (not just those of Pākehā) and that they are also written and reviewed by Māori and Pasifika writers.

This big beautiful large format hard-back book is a tribute to an astonishing man. Courtney Sina Meredith, a poet and fiction writer, has brought both poems and prose together to tell the story, and that choice adds to the richness of the book. Mat Tait, a comic artist, has added stunning visual images to add layers to the story. It is a book of multiple beliefs, customs, discoveries, relationships.

When the Endeavour arrived in Tahiti, the ship’s artist, Sydney Parkinson, taught Tupaia to paint with paper and paint, while Tupaia taught Sydney the traditions and language of Tahiti. With his impressive grasp of English and his many talents, Tupaia was invited to help navigate on the voyage south, along with his young apprentice Taiata.

History can be facts and history can be imagined, history can also be smudged facts and misused facts and overlooked stories.  This book is one step in fixing our missing stories. Courtney gets me to feel history. And when I feel history I think about history.


The Endeavour rocked gently as she sailed south. After exploring local waters, the ship had left the tropical lushness of the islands behind, the crew firing a cannon on departure. The thunderous explosion had rung about the hills as Tupaia looked back to shore with both excitement and sorrow. The priest navigator had no way of knowing if he would ever return to his home.


Courtney and Mat help me picture Tupaia breathing in ocean air with his arms outstretched, feeling the wind against him. He was breathing in and feeling knowledge on his skin, listening to the stars chanting. Tupaia told Cook and Joseph Banks (the botanist) that he and his people understood time and space differently.  He read the ocean and he read the stars. He shared scared knowledge that should have remained with his society because he loved sea travel so much. We hear Cook say how his King might like to claim the empty islands.

Ah, this is such a deep and difficult pang.

With rich graphic illustrations, Mat shows us Tupaia’s arrival in Aotearoa: scenes, people, objects, marae, warriors, hongi, muskets, life, death, peace, violence, the sky. Each page holds my attention and each page moves me. The illustrations track the places the ship stopped at. Courtney’s prose and poetry unfolds people and places, communications and miscommunications. The writing is like song – singing the past into life for our ears and hearts. Yet this is also a book of important ideas – how we write the past, how we must listen to multiple stories and understand there are multiple ways of doing things.

Ah, this book encourages me to pay attention.

It is the kind of book you need to spend time with, making discoveries, finding new ways to see things.

I haven’t felt a book to such depths for a long time. I am hoping every child gets to read this book and love and learn from Tupaia and his travels as much as I have. An essential book. A magnificent book in debt to mahi and aroha.



THURSDAY POP-UP challenge:


This is a tricky challenge for me because it feels like you need to read the book and you need to talk about the book with friends and family, and your class.  And then the book will open up inside of you.

To write a poem about Tupaia without having made discoveries about him feels wrong.

Pākehā have done too much of this!

So I am going to give you a few choices.


1  If you have read or have heard about Tupaia make a poem that makes a connection with him, that shows something about him and his travels.

2   Write a poem imagining what it might be like to travel across the ocean. Can you do a little research? Can you collect ocean words (nouns, verbs, adjective, similes). Collect navigating words, sky and star words? Use your senses to bring the ocean scene to life? Have you ever been out on the ocean? Use that experience.



Deadline: 26th October 9 am

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

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

Send to:

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 26th October. I will have at least one secret give away! I will put names in the hat and pull one out.

Poetry Box review festival: favourite machine poems




I challenged you to write machine poems inspired Nora Brech’s stunning story (Gecko Press).

Here are some favourite machine poems. What inventiveness at work here! I loved this challenge.

I put all the names in a hat and pulled out Isla – so she will get my secret giveaway.



Crispy cream
All my favourite donuts,
and now I can do it in a…
push of a button
a pull of a lever
a roll of a dice
a turn of a wheel
a pop of a bubble
In my tum!

Ella 10 years old Year 5 Westmere School



The Paper Dispenser

Big paper,
Small paper,
Long paper,
Short paper.

Colourful paper,
White paper,
Skinny paper,
Thick paper.

Sticky paper,
Smooth paper,
Shiny paper,
Glossy paper.

Ripped paper,
Dirty paper,
Clean paper,
Crinkly paper.

Happy paper,
Sad paper,
Grumpy paper,
Excited paper.

Paper that
You paint on.

Paper that you
Draw on.

you write POEMS on!

Isla R Age: 10 LS6 Westmere School


The Food Machine

Egg fried rice
Is very nice.


sponge cake.

Bagels with

and tea
and sushi.

Chicken on rice
is also nice.

My foodtastic machine.

Olive Wilson Age: 10 LS6 Westmere School


The Bird Machine

Huffing and puffing.
Fluttery and elegante.
A baby bird
Falls from her nest
Into the hands
Of the Bird Machine.
“I’ve broken my wing,”
The little bird cried.
The Bird Machine opens a slot
That comes open
With an extremely loud POP!
In goes the little bird
Tweeting with pain.

Then comes a crack and a ping,
And out comes the little bird
Happily flying.
From the trees
Comes no sound of crying.

Sophia W  Age: 9   Year group: year 4  School: Selwyn House School



Machine poem


In the jungle a super machine

Like nothing that you’ve ever seen

Can strip down a tree

Then cut out a “v”

To make a canoe like a dream


Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 7.53.40 AM.png


Daniel L, Age 11, Year 6, Adventure School








Poetry Box noticeboard: WOW! Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s summer reading SUPER SMASH challenge

Screen Shot 2019-10-24 at 8.32.28 AM.png



Sign up here

Win book vouchers, books, signed cricket bats, tickets!

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly NZ Book Council) has partnered with NZ Cricket to offer this exciting reading challenge for primary and intermediate children.

I heard Jo Cribb (Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s CEO) do a terrific interview with Jesse Mulligan at Radio NZ National.

I am both a reading and cricket fan so I think this is such  a cool idea!