Monthly Archives: July 2020

Poetry Box review: Matthew Cunningham and Sarah Wilkin’s Abigail and the Restless Raindrop





Abigail and the Restless Raindrop, Matthew Cunningham, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins, Penguin Books, 2020


Matthew Cunningham joined up with illustrator Sarah Wilkins to create Abigail and the Birth of the Sun (Penguin). It is a stunning book and has been shortlisted for the 2020 NZ Children’s Book Awards.

Matthew’s second Abigail book Abigail and the Restless Raindrop (perhaps it might be a series?) poses a new question. Abigail loves questions – they get to be so big inside her  she can’t think of anything else! And like any big question it is hooks up a picture book of other questions.

The question:


Where does the rain come from?


Abigail is gumboot squelching in puddles so it is not surprising she gets wondering about rain.

This rainy-day escapade is full of wonder. Questions and wonder are very good friends!  To understand rain Abigail’s mum helps her follow a raindrop – starting with a little drop of water in a lake, moving to the rain-plump clouds, and yes, ending up back in the lake.

Matthew’s imaginative approach to the life cycle of a drop of water makes facts come alive so beautifully. Abigail gets to imagine what it is like to be a raindrop.

Sarah’s illustrations follow the rain story but hold other stories too. I especially like the page where Abigail and her mum are picnicking by the lake; Abigail is fishing and her mum is writing in her notebook. Both are dreaming and wondering!


The writing flows so perfectly.

The illustrations are captivating.


The story shows where rain comes from (and where rain goes) in such an inventive way it is easy to absorb.

On the last page Abigail is already wondering her next big question …. and Penguin tells us to keep an eye out for it! So yes Abigail is becoming a must-have series. These books should be in every school library and on every home bookshelf.

I am wondering what the next big question could be!


Matthew Cunningham lives in Porirua with his wife and daughter Abigail (who also likes big questions!). He is a historian with a Doctor of Philosophy, and has written and published a range of academic writing, along with his two picture books.

Sarah Wilkins is an award-winning illustrator. Her illustrations have appeared on buildings, buses and bags, but above all, in much loved books. She lives in Wellington and has a Masters in Science in Society.


Penguin page





Poetry Box review: Anna Höglund’s The Stone Giant





Anna Höglund The Stone Giant Gecko Press 2020


What a delightful story housed in an exquisitely illustrated, lovingly produced object: The Stone Giant is a must-have book. The cover reflects what it is like inside – the  illustrations are often grey or pitch-black, with a young girl standing out in a red dress. The story is based on the much loved Swedish fairy tale by Elsa Beskow.


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A young girl lives on an island with her father who is a knight. One day he sets off in a boat to challenge a mean giant who is turning everyone to stone by looking at them. I think the girl must be accustomed to being alone on the island, because I am sure this is not the first time her father has headed off without her to rescue people.

I love the way she gets straight down to fixing and mending everything that needs fixing and mending. She is resourceful and independent, but she is also worried because her father does not come home. Will a child succeed where an adult has failed?

I love the way stories give children strength, an ability to solve things.

The writing is simple – sweetly flowing – and it carries us like a little reading stream. You want to stay in the flow until the very end. The illustrations help build the mood – slightly scary, slightly anxious. The girl has a genius flash and makes a daring decision. She will rescue her father!

You know fairy tales are going to have happy endings – but you never know how they will get there and that doesn’t mean you don’t feel on edge as you read (and just the right amount here because I scare easily).

The girl’s journey to the stone giant is the heart of the book – she is on on her own but as with most fairy tales she will get unexpected help on the way. I love the illustration of her swimming in the night-black sea with a little blue bird on her head keeping an eye out.

Fairy tales – like all stories – can carry secret (and not so secret) messages, like little training camps for children on how to be good humans as opposed to nasty ones. This story underlines how determination and imagination are important qualities to overcome problems.


I also got musing on how stories for children have changed over the centuries. Publishers’ choices have changed as ideas have changed. We want stories that feature girl heroes as much as they feature boy heroes or ‘they’ heroes. We do not want racism. It is utterly important that our stories reflect the strength and wisdom of global cultures. That we hear from many writing voices, in many styles and genres.

This is a sublime story of courage and ingenuity. Wit counters bad behaviour. Buy the book, enter the reading stream, and you will be carried along the exquisite currents until the breathtaking end. The illustrations are gorgeous. So beautifully crafted – a mix of printing and watercolour. Full of mood and life and mystery. Glorious!

Gecko Press page


Anna Höglund is a Swedish illustrator and author. Her work has been recognized with Swedish and international awards. She has worked with many well-known authors including Barbro Lindgren and Ulf Stark.


Poetry Box review: Anna Fiske’s wonderful How Do You Make a Baby?




Anna Fiske How Do You Make a Baby Gecko Press 2020


This is the most brilliant, moving, informative children’s book on how to make babies that I have ever read! It is inclusive and witty and contains plain facts, but is so much more than more than plain facts.


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The first sentence invites us ALL into the book:



We are all part of this book. The book shows that our world is made up of many different kinds of families: mother father, mother mother, father father.


It might be things we love to eat, do, visit, see. The people we love to be with. But there is also the special love of couples.

Before we encounter sperms and eggs, vaginas and penises, we encounter things a loving couple might love to do together. And then it shows couples doing loving things, some of which are sex.

The book then slowly goes through the development from sperm meeting egg to baby arriving in the world.

And just as the baby is taking shape so too are the parent(s) as they prepare for a baby in their lives / life.

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We are reminded that all births are different, that millions of babies are born everyday all over the world and that:







These are the last sentences in the book, and they made me want to cry. The thought here is so wise, and so filled with sparkling HOPE. So yes this is a book about how you make a baby, but it makes sure it is part of a bigger story than biology. Maybe I am so hooked on this book because it underlines how each and every human life is precious. How we are all miracles and all unique. I am sitting here, in these terribly troubled times, wanting the world to absorb this message. Every baby and every life matters. Life is a miracle.

I love this book. I would have loved sharing it with my children when they were young.


Gecko Press page

Poetry Box review: Melinda Szymanik’s The Time Machine & other stories’


Melinda Syzmanik The Time Machine & other stories Ahoy, The Cuba Press 2019



I remember reading short stories as a child and loving them – stories with various characters and settings and situations. Fables. Myths. Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree. And in the past few years I have ADORED Joy Cowley’s Snake and Lizard (Although that has the same characters).

Melinda Syzmanik is a versatile writing whizz (The Were-Nana, The Song of Kauri, A Winter’s Day in 1939) who recently published a terrific collection of short stories (18 stories and a novella). Not surprisingly it has been shortlisted for the NZ Children’s Book Awards this year.

The writing flows like honey. The characters are catchy. The situations surprising. Sometimes there is sense of fable  – not that these have animals as protagonists or they are at all surreal. No these stories are bitingly real. And that’s what I love – understated lessons on what it is to be human. Instead of dogmatic messages there are questions. The questions are like the hot bright core of story and the stories unfold about them in kaleidoscopic directions.


Here are a few favourites:

What does a cool teacher do when you just can’t sit still in class?

What do you do when you don’t have a horse but desperately want one?

What happens when you think you are hopeless at maths and your grandmother turns in the middle of the night with a recipe for soup?

What happens if you think museums are boring (maybe even the world is boring!)?

What happens when a farming family is ordered to leave their farm during WWII?

What hope is there when you are picked on as a child?

How can you find strength in being different?


So many of these questions have affected us. We can’t always fit into the rules and regulations. Surely we all suffer from self doubt at times. At not being good enough. Some of us have been bullied. Some of us have found life boring.

I love the way such important questions hide in the stories and Melinda comes up with surprising and wise responses. There will be crocodile teeth! A speeding go-kart. A time machine. A pirate’s eye patch. There is braveness and daring.

Good short story collections are like a chocolate box for me – a sweet array of different tastes that pop on your tongue – eat one and you carry the flavour all day. And then you try a different flavour. Melinda’s stories can be sweet, sharp, crunchy or smooth. They can be sad, fascinating, zinging with facts, spinning feelings and discoveries. They shine a thousand lights on what it means to be human. There are hurdles and there are joyful discoveries.

This is a chocolate treat of a book – that deserves to be an award finalist.

So a big celebratory bouquet to New Zealand’s writing whizz and her first short story collection.


The Cuba Press author page










Poetry Box July challenge: Selina Tusitala Marsh’s Mophead as a poem springboard




Mophead, Selina Tusitala Marsh,  Auckland University Press 2020

Shortlisted for the NZ Children’s Book Awards 2020

AUP author page


Selina Tusitala Marsh was New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2017 until 2019 (it is now David Eggleton). She has done extraordinary things and written extraordinary poetry. Her latest book Mophead , a graphic memoir, is her first book for children. She has written and illustrated what it was what like for her as child with big frizzy hair. She used to get teased for being afakasi (‘being Samoan and something else’) and was called ‘mophead.’

I love this book so much – I love the way Selina has described and She chooses to let her hair out. The illustrations are popping with life and zest, and the writing is in the glorious voice of the Selina. I can feel her presence in the writing and the drawings.

Selina is such an extraordinary woman, she has inspired many young people to write and perform poems, to be themselves.

Selina has done many firsts – she performed a poem in front of the Queen at a special occasion in London, she read a poem for USA’s first black president, President Obama, and for His Highness in Samoa. She was the first Pasifika woman to become New Zealand Poet Laureate. She has published a number of poetry collections.

Mophead takes us back to the little girl who had to deal with bullying and the paths that lead to her wonderful achievements. She says poet Sam Hunt was a big influence on the road to becoming a poet.


We all have different childhoods; we have things we love and things we don’t like so much, we have favourite people and favourite places. And I am so hoping we are on the road to being kind, generous, wise, considerate human beings. Some of us have lives full of riches and some of us have lives where we go hungry and don’t have all the things we need. We are good at some things and not good at others.

Being extraordinary can happen in the everyday lives we lead. Only a very few people get to be famous, but we are all special, unique human beings. Small things are just as important as big things.

Think about what is special about you!


The July challenge feels really important to me. I want you to think about who you are.

Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm (if you want) before you write a poem! Use what you want how you want!


What are you like?

What do you love?

What don’t you like?

What do you look like?

What do you like to wear?

Where do you like to go or be?

What do you like to do? Or eat? Or look at?

What is important to you?

What makes you happy?

What makes you sad?

What makes you cross?

What three words sum you up?

What is the most important thing you have learnt?



Write a poem about YOU. Imagine you are a writing a poem to put in bottle to show your grown-up self what it was like for you are as a child.

You can also include drawings or paintings! Or do a poem comic strip.


TOP TIP: Keep the poem for a week before you send it to me – have another listen.

Put it in box or notebook or bottle to read when you are older!


DEADLINE: July 28th


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

DON”T FORGET TO PUT self poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email

I will POST at the end of the month and will have a few books to give away.




Poetry Box June challenge: some favourite wonder poems


6. View from Rangataua.jpg



Kia ora young poets

It has taken me all weekend to read all your poems and emails. If I haven’t replied to you let me know as I will have missed it. And sorry if I made spelling mistakes in your letters – I was getting tired!

What a favourite topic – WONDER.

I love the way it takes us in so many directions. Some of you wondered about the state of our planet. Some of you had an imagination hard at work. Some poems are long and some very short. So many different moods and surprises. Some terrific endings!

It was so hard picking a small portion of the poems that arrived – as I loved them all. But feels like there are so many I did pick – I have made a little poem book of wonder.

Let me know which is you favourite one here!

I am sending a copy of Groovy Fish to Henry and Chloe (St Andrews), Zac (Richmond Rd) and Natsuki (Fendalton).  This is never a competition – I just like to give books away.

I am posting a new challenge tomorrow.

The hardest part of my blog is not being able to post all your glorious mahi. You are all amazing poets and should be proud.


Ngā mihi

Paula Green


I wonder how I can fly to the sea

I wish that I could have a motor and wings

Soft as a bear’s fur

Leaves falling from the trees


Caitlin C, age 7 Ilam School



Polar Bear’s world

I wonder where polar bears sleep.
Do they sleep under the snow?
I think
they sleep with blankets of stars
and pillows of moonlight.
They dream
of their long lost families.

Chloe S Age: 8  St Andrew’s College


Wonder starts with nothing and ends with something
My wonder starts the same, with nothing
My wonder ended with me being Queen
With me being a mountaineer
With me being a superhero
With me saving dolphins
With me ending war
With me winning everything
With me holding the world

Hannah H, Fendalton School



A million years ago
Sometimes I lie and wonder about stuff
I don’t know how the earth began 1 million years ago
Did dinosaurs even exist
Did volcanoes even blow
Did humans come after the apes.
Well we could all wonder
But that was a million years ago

Will the earth survive
A million years to come?

Jasper Aged 9 St Francis School



Wonder comes to us, creeping into our heads.
Adults throw wonder away, like a moth-eaten blanket.
But children treasure it.
Children see race car boxes, and lava floors.
Children see the magic in the air.
That’s why they make friends wherever they go.
Why they are so happy.
They see the awesomeness in everything.
So when you have a little time, let in the wonder.
If we could all stop a moment, and try to see the world through a child’s point of view, our worlds will be happier.
So put a smile on your face, and wonder.

Paige L, age 10, Fendalton Open-air School



When I see
a rainbow
I wonder
if I can
run to the other side.
If I could run to
the other side
I would find if there is a pot
of sunflowers.

Henry P, Age 7, St Andrews College



I wonder

I wonder what lies

Above the kahikatea

Against the tide

Around the corner


Beyond the horizon

Beneath the cat lair

Behind the fridge


Connected to the world

Corroded by the time

Chained to the memories


Destroyed by the –

Never mind

I have too many wonders for today


I wonder if I can fall asleep


Daniel L, Age 11, Year 7, Hadlow School



I Wonder…
I wonder how seeds are made.
I wonder how languages were made.
I wonder how planets were made.
I wonder, I wonder and I wonder.
I wonder if I could fly like a bird.
I wonder if I could stand on a planet.
I wonder if ghosts exist.
I wonder, I wonder and I wonder.

Caitlin-lily W,  age 9, Richmond Road School


I wonder how I even wonder
I wonder how viking boats were made.
I wonder what deep fried bananas taste like
Would microwaved bananas taste the same
Wondering feeds my mind

Oliver Aged 9 St Francis School



Earth, it spins round and round,
how do we know if we’re the right way standing or upside down?
we might be sideways, left or right.
It really feels like we’re on a big block of flat ice!

Austen F, Age 8 – Year 3,  St Andrews College – Christchurch



I wonder what school was years ago.
Once, they might’ve carved writings on rocks,
Or they might have jumped about on logs for exercise.
They probably wanted to fly like birds, soaring in the sky.
I think some children travelled, maybe by horse?

Carolyn X, Age 9, Fendalton Open-Air School



I wonder why I couldn’t wonder
for this June challenge.
Normally I wonder heaps
But today nothing popped
Until I thought of this.
I wonder why I couldn’t wonder

Connor Aged 10 St Francis School



See a moa on a mountain bike
Long feet braking
Zooming over a humongous jump.
Sending a tuck no beaker
Powering to do a nose manual
WONDERFUL imagination

Matais Aged 11 St Francis School




I wonder why people can’t fly like birds?
If planes are heavier than us, why can’t we fly?
Imagine a world where we flew instead of walking
I wonder where birds fly in winter?
Maybe to another country?
If penguins have wings why can’t they fly?
How do clouds float if they are made of water?
If wonder how do all these things fly
If some are light and some are heavy?

Ivy M age: 7 Year: 3  Ilam Primary School, Christchurch


Well Why Not?

Wondering is good.
Wondering is part of life.
Yep, you should wonder.

Sacha H, age 10, Richmond Rd School



I wonder if stars are fireflies flying high in the sky.
I wonder if aliens can even say goodbye.
I wonder what it would be like to be a bird, imagine if you could fly.
I wonder what it would be like to be dead, it might be scary.
I should not worry about that now though cause I’m still in primary.
I wonder this, I wonder that, I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

Zac W, age 10 Richmond Road School


I wonder why…
Trash cans line the beach
that have never been used
while thousands of pieces
of rubbish are scattered across
the sand and oceanbirds with plastic
wrapped around them
trying to take flight but failing.
All signs of any plant life have disappeared
for miles round and trash there instead.
Rats scurry in and out of the sand
hoping to find food.
Feathers float across the ocean
soaking wet from their voyage across the sea.
Shipwrecks strewn below the sea
just a few meters
from where humans used to sunbathe.

Charlie J, age 10, Fendalton School
I wonder about bees.
What they see,
If they feel,
just like me.
Do they like trees?
And even leaves?
I wonder what I would
do if I was a bee?
I would play on trees,
And make honey.
This is all from me,
Miss Bee.

Nina P, age 9 Richmond Road School

Distant Dodo

In winter dreams,I hear the Dodo.

His voice is cold and desperate.

“Remember me! Remember me!”

In spring dreams, I hear the Dodo.

His voice is underground with the seeds.

“Remember me! Remember me!”

In summer dreams, I hear the Dodo.

His voice lonely and far away.

“Remember me! Remember me!”

In autumn dreams, I cannot hear the Dodo.

The leaves cool and crackle.

I wonder why he left.


Tom N, Age 11 Christchurch South Intermediate


I wonder who would dare to build something
that would take so long
and take centuries to finish.

I wonder who would be crazy enough
to build a wall longer
than most skyscrapers

I wonder if it was used in a war
to keep the innocent people
on the other side so they will be protected

Yenul, Age:10, Year: 6  Churton Park School


I wonder how it would be to live in space

W ouldn’t it be just magical
O r what about going on the moon
N oticing it would be like a big balloon
D on’t know about the sun
E xpecting it to be too hot then I will be done
R ight now I am on the ground and I am very happy the way I am!

Lou D, age 10 Richmond Road School



Seven wonders depending on if

The world is sometimes strange,
but not as strange as it could be.
If cats were chased by mice,
and hamsters were huge
what a strange world this would be.

If mushrooms were handed in bouquets
and flowers were chopped away
what a strange world this would be!

If books were boring and
TV ads are interesting
what a strange world this would be!

If tigers live in the sea and
fish lived on land
what a strange world this would be!

If we lived on the moon and
astronauts were sent to take land on earth
what a strange world this would be!

If Ice Cream was disgusting and
eggplants were delicious
what a strange world this would be!

if kiwi lived in day time and
dogs lived at night
what a strange world this would be!

Although the world is strange
it could be a stranger place!

Natsuki H, age 10, Fendalton Open-air School


Picture this
A moa and eagle playing tag
Moa running as fast as the wind
Eagle soaring as high as the Sky Tower
Crafty eagle always the victor
No place is safe to hide
The wonder of it

Harper Aged 9 St Francis School


My Wonderland

I wonder this and that,
I wonder if myths are real,
Or if one day,
A dragon could appear at my backyard,
He could be my house guard.
I wonder if a unicorn,
can really fly over a rainbow,
Or if there is perhaps another world down below.
But we are in reality,
how could this be real?
Because these are wonders,
Wonders that make me feel.
It is all my dreamworld.
I wonder why the sunset is,
Red, orange or yellow,
Or why dead trees go hollow,
I wonder why at the beach,
The water is shallow.
I wonder this and that,
I wonder if this is a dream,
Swimming in melted ice cream.
I wonder why your feet sink in sand,
And if Maui really fished up our land.
I wonder this and that,
I wonder how big the universe goes,
Or why glow worms glow.
I wonder why I wonder.
But it is good to wonder.
I wonder this and that,
I wonder why I have to go,
Cause i have more to experience in life,
Than wondering all the time.
Goodbye, Goodbye,
See you in wonderland.

Mila P, age 10 Richmond Road School

The Sphinx

Who built the sphinx?
With its head dress and pharaoh like appearance
is it true that it was meant to have stripes that were blue
Is it the humans that caused erosion now being a terrible interference
where’s its nose? and its beard?
Was the beard a phase?
Where’s the nose now?
and what is on his face?
It is said that he had a cobra emblem on his face
but who says it’s a HE could the sphinx possibly be called SHE?
Who is this sphinx and what do they do?
all of it is a big mystery …

Mya, Age: 11 Year: 6, Churton Park School


Whale drawing.JPG

Illustration by Van Clan family



When it is winter,
goes wandering up a mountain,
to watch a warbling whale,

But this time when he went up,
the whale said to him,
“Oh warble with me, my warty winter friend!”

“Ok Mr Whale, I’ll warble with you today,
but beware, where the warthog go,
and don’t you eat that yellow snow!”

Van Clan family, homeschooled





Imagine a cat

Climbing your curtains

Scratching and tearing


The cat falls to

The floor.


Matthew D 10 yr  year 6 Churton Park


If I could fly

I would go on adventures

I would go and find unknown places

And name them as I go

Children would hang onto my arms for lifts to school

On wet days I would fly on top of the clouds

And have picnics with my teddy bears

I would stay there till the rain stopped

Sometimes I would have a sleepover on the clouds

I would spot the planes above me

But for now, flying will stay in my dreams


Kate, age: 10, year: six, Churton Park School



I Wonder

I look into a purring cat’s face.
What is it wondering?
Does it like me?
The cat looks around staring blankly into the distance.
What does the cat see?
Can it see something I can’t?
I walk closer to the cat.
I find a faint outline of an animal.
I still don’t know. The cat stares intensely.
Is it a lion? I see a flock of birds flying to us.
Did the cat send a signal to them?
The cat walks to the bush nearby.
It jumps straight in and disappears.
I wonder if I will see it again?

Alice, Age: 10. Y6, Selwyn House School



What if

What if
in an attempt to feed
the world’s population
some scientists developed a
mutant grape vine which
strangled the world’s

Would it slither
through the streets
as it
strangled the innocent citizens
ignoring their pathetic
screams for help?

It would invade
all the farms in
the country to devour
the poor livestock
in one

The vicious plant
would stretch the
world over
to create an
environment of its own

Isn’t that an
ominous thought
But beware
lest the starved creeper
may enter your
office to dine
upon your flesh

Kyra Age: 11 Years Year: Year 6 Churton Park School


Standing on the ice carousel      

Will I float ?

Will I sink ?

Going around and around

I feel like I am drowning

But then again I am floating

Light as a feather

And as heavy as a whale


Sophia Age: 10,  Year 6, Churton Park School



If books were alive
It would be a wonder
It would be a tragedy

Evil queens
Giant monsters and
Superpowered self obsessed heroes

People of my dreams
Creatures of nightmares

Dealing with
Death in the Prague
Stresses of world wars

Jasmine Aged 9 St Francis School




Her wings gently stretch out,
daintily taking her first step about.
‘Green, blue, yellow, pink,’
colours are all she can even think.
Gracefully her wings steadily extended,
Her new gift of flying was just splendid.

As she flew over rivers and looked at small towns,
She saw children playing, on little playgrounds.
Her wonder never ceased,
Alas, it only increased,
Nature, creativity, love, sports,
Books, boats, gardens, ports.

Her life was at its peak,
The perfect hour, perfect day, perfect week.
Her hardships over, her future ahead,
Her sticky chrysalis had been shed.

Her wings gently stretch out,
daintily taking her first step about.
‘Green, blue, yellow, pink,’
colours are all she can even think.
Gracefully her wings steadily extended,
Her new gift of flying was just splendid.

As she flew over rivers and looked at small towns,
She saw children playing, on little playgrounds.
Her wonder never ceased,
Alas, it only increased,
Nature, creativity, love, sports,
Books, boats, gardens, ports.

Her life was at its peak,
The perfect hour, perfect day, perfect week.
Her hardships over, her future ahead,
Her sticky chrysalis had been shed.

Malia, age 12, Mapua School 



I wonder about Antarctica the polar bears start disappearing
Penguins are losing hope
Ice melts away and sea levels rise
Fish are slipping away into darkness.

Isabelle H, Age 8 St Andrews Prep


My wonder stick

I pick up a stick and name this stick my wonder stick
I wonder if i could fly to the moon with my wonder stick
I could become queen with my wonder stick
I could dance at a ball with my wonder stick
I imagine if i could be a evil witch my wonder stick
I know that i can be whatever i want
Just sitting under a tree with my wonder stick

Mia M  Age:9  Fendalton school


Why tigers?
A swirl of white, orange and black
Is painted all over
Large paws leave a trail
The beautiful green eyes of the tiger
Hypnotise their prey
Then they pounce out of the bushes
As quick as the blink of the eye
One peek into the rainforest
And you see a terrifying beast
Two green eyes stare into yours
But most people don’t know
That only 3,890 tigers
walk through the rainforest

Mia D Age: 11  Selwyn House School


Elephant and Mouse
Colossal, tough elephants and
miniscule, weak mice
Flapping their ears out,
lifting their trunk
to great heights
Squeaking quietly,
scurrying around
on the ground.
How is the elephant
scared of the mouse?

Leona  K Age: 10  Selwyn House School


The forest

sitting in the darkness
staring into the distance
wondering if the forest ever ends
is there something beyond
the forest floor and tall green trees
with the moon’s bright glow over it
breaking the black
listing to the deep river

Annaliese, age 10, Selwyn House


Banana Plant

I wonder
as I lay down on the sofa
If that calm,
majestic banana plant that
sits there all day
and all night,
is looking after the house,
while I am in bed, dreaming

Clara, 10 years old, Selwyn House School







Poetry Box reading: Belinda O’Keefe reads The Day the Plants Fought Back

Listen to Belinda O’Keefe read The Day the Plants Fought Back (Scholastic 2019).

The book has been shortlisted in the Best First Book category of the NZ Children’s book awards this year. It is illustrated by Richard Hoit.



Belinda lives in Christchurch with her husband, two sons and two Russian blues. She is a freelance copy editor and the sub-editor of latitude magazine. Belinda has a passion for language and books – she loves reading so much that she does it for a living, as well as for pleasure. In fact she can’t remember the last time she was without a book to read!

Belinda was shortlisted for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award in 2016 and 2017, and in 2019 she had her first picture book, The Day the Plants Fought Back published with Scholastic New Zealand. She gets most of her inspiration from her two boys, and her youngest son’s slime obsession gave her a light bulb moment for the plot of Recipe for Disaster. Recipe for Disaster was the 2020 Storylines Tom Firtzgibbon Award winner