I get sent many wonderful children’s books, some of which I review on Poetry Box, especially books published in Aotearoa. It is such a treat getting a surprise book parcel in the post and then finding a cosy spot to snuggle into reading them. I was recently inspired by some Gecko Press picture books and ending up using the first lines to write some poems.
I thought it would be a cool challenge for young poets.
I received loads of magnificent poems sparked by the first line of a book, and I love them all. I love the way these poems are all so different. Some tell stories (quite a lot). Some poems have fun with acrobatic words. Some poems have strong haunting moods and some poems make you catch the coat tails of bounding imaginations. I so enjoyed reading these poems. Just the ticket when you are still living in lockdown so thank you.
I am sending books to: Ava (Pakuranga School), Baden and Susan (Richmond Rd School) and Amadeia (Kaurilands School).
Do try my November challenge and watch out for popUP challenges over the coming weeks inspired by children’s books that arrive in my letter box.
I had a million toys and I was bored.
I have think,
and a blink,
and jump in the toys,
and all noise
I have a look around,
and on the ground,
It made shrieking sounds
Baden, Y4, Richmond Road School
The first line is from In the Attic by Satoshi Kitamura
Outside The Great Sash Windows
Outside the great sash windows
Trees are dull,
The once colourful leaves now turn old,
With one witch’s snap,
Just like that,
Magic all around.
The trees turn back,
Leaves are no longer old and pruney,
The witch’s work
Lifts the curse.
Pippa H, Year 7, Age 12, Onewhero School
First line/title from The Year That Changed Everything by Kathy Kelly.
Bake a Cake
I have a million toys and I am bored.
But if I try to concentrate
I come up with my talent… to celebrate.
So if I imagine, everything is possible to bake
and though I like to do it
I have most fun with a birthday cake.
Now I start to wonder…
Whose is the next birthday?
Time to check the calendar right away.
We’ve had mom’s and Teddy’s
and my ginger cat’s too,
so coming up next
is my guinea pig’s – Lulu!
Now for the present.
I should write ‘from Susan.’
How about I give her a new cage
or a new ball
at a different stage?
Susan, Y4, Richmond Road School
First line from In the Attic by Satoshi Kitamura
Tiger, tiger, burning bright in the forests of the night.
Look at the eyes, look at the ears in perfect symmetry.
Look at the perfect in the claw,
Look at the perfect in the paw.
Stalking, quietly, elegantly and swift.
Quiet on leaves, snow and dirt.
Elegance in its flowing cloak of fire, ash and softness.
Padding softly on the leaves.
Cosy up, snug and warm, with a blanket of sleep,
Out of the cloak of day.
Rebecca F, Y4, age: 8 Selwyn House School
From Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year, selected by Fiona Waters, Publisher: Nosy Crow
the tree stretches
her long slender branches,
reaches through the sky
creating a grand canopy
of soft green leaves.
the crunch crunch beneath
my shoes as the dry, curled leaves
crumble with my every step.
I hear the tūī and pīwakawaka sing,
through the mist and the
flap flap of their wings as they
twist through the air.
Annaliese M, Y7, age 11, Selwyn House School
First line from ‘The Tree’ by Laura Ranger, in Laura’s Poems, Godwit, 1995
Stalking through shadows,
at one with the Darkness.
The footsteps are making the floor creak.
All you can see is scattered darkness
under the cloudy night sky.
Fangs are approaching with yellow, green eyes.
You hear a meowing noise
then hissing and then all noise is gone.
It’s calm. Darkness again.
Meallá A, Y4, age 9, Selwyn House Schoiol
Line borrowed from ‘Shadows’ by Devon Johnson, Toitoi 23
My name is Tracy Beaker.
I walk through the streets,
Waving at all the things I meet.
When nothing’s bright,
I tuck myself into bed,
With my dog, Shed.
When I have breakfast in the morning,
The day is still dawning.
In the middle of the day,
I give my horses hay.
When I have dinner,
I feel like a winner!
Mia C, age 11, Y7, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School
Line from The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
The Mouse’s Stroll Through the Wood
A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood
By the long winding path that no mouse understood
This mouse wasn’t like all the rest of the mice
This mouse thought the wood should be awfully nice
So the mouse set off to this unknown place
And soon there was a smile on the mouse’s face
All the rest of the mice had said otherwise
So the mouse really did get a pleasant surprise
The wood wasn’t scary, nor ugly, nor bad
For the mouse looked around and the mouse was glad!
Beaming with glee and marching along
Bursting with joy, the mouse sang a song:
“There are blossoming bushes and towering trees
Sweet smelling flowers and hardworking bees
Marvellous things, big and small you will find
Creatures and critters of every kind
It’s a bundle of nature, a breath-taking space
The wood is a beautiful, bountiful place!”
As the mouse romped on, it wasn’t very soon
That the mouse realised it was nearly noon
The mouse heard its stomach grumbling away
It licked its lips; it was that time of the day!
The mouse found a spot near an old oak tree
It got out its things, all ready for tea
The mouse found its friends, who then understood
Now they’re munching away in the wonderful wood
Megan L, age 11,Y7, Kingsway School
First line from The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
The Raging Storm
It was noon, and the sky was black
Thunder roared; lightning flashed
Stabbing the earth like shiny daggers
Birds seek shelter from the storm
Slow, heavy traffic
People honk their car horn
Wanting to reach their destinations
Rain tapping on the windows
Home at last
Cuddled on the cosy couch with the family
Watching a movie
Eating sweet chocolate and sour lollies
As the storm continues outside
Denzel G, age 10,Y5, Sandspit Road School
from Chapter 1, The Beast Of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams
The Easter Bunny
Hop hop hop!
I hear things drop.
I look out the window.
High and low.
But I do not see anything.
But I still hear hopping.
At the other side of the house
I hear my cat hissing at a mouse.
Suddenly I see a silhouette
Of the Easter bunny.
Hannah, Y4, age 9, Selwyn House School
from ‘The Easter Bunny’ by Laura Ranger in Laura’s Poems, Godwit
Mountains & Castles
A dragon was trying to hide in the storm.
Snowdew flew to the mountains, wings heavy and worn.
Inside the bare mountain, Duststorm lay.
A dragon grim and dark, and old dusty grey.
“Our home shall soon fall,” he said, with alarm.
“Very soon we’ll be pulled into terrible harm.”
“What do you mean?” the other dragon was saying.
Before he could speak, the mountain was swaying.
“What’s going on!” Snowdew cried with fright.
“I knew an earthquake would come at first sign of night!’’
“Fly out of here, quick!” Snowdew called to his friend.
They flew out, far away, until the night time would end.
“Our home is gone, has crumbled to dust.”
“We’ll find a new home then, one just for us.”
Then they flew lower, to find a home of desire.
“This looks good,” said Duststorm, showing a castle with a spire.
They walked to the inside, where the stone walls were bare.
They could both live there happily without much despair.
They soon had their home looking cosy and warm.
Into a great home it would soon transform.
They grew together, doing everything they could.
To make the most of their time there, while the castle still stood.
Years later, when the dragons had both grown old
They told of the earthquake that made their mountain fold.
How it crumbled to rust and fell all to dust
Until all that was left was a pile of mistrust.
And how they found a new life
Where there was no strife.
They all live together
Knowing they’ll be happy forever
Thinking about how everything started
And how they knew they would never be parted.
Ava H, age: 8, School: Pakuranga Heights School
Line from Wings Of Fire, The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T Sutherland (#1)
The moon is a silver hubcap
Up in the sky
Upon the fruitpickers
Deep into the night
Farming to feed
Farming to survive
Only harvesting at night
Saving the goodness
For the fruit
Phoebe J, age 13, Selwyn House School
First sentence from God’ by Laura Ranger (written age 6) in Laura’s Poems, Godwit
Nobody goes there because
That’s where the fire burned out
The fire hurt families and destroyed our village, engulfing the homes
Nobody goes there because
That’s where the rivers flooded
The rivers wrecked homes and drowned everyone in waves length
Nobody goes there because
That’s where the kidnappers raided
The kidnappers ripped families apart, draining parents of their pennies
Nobody goes there because
That’s where the earthquake hit
The earthquake ripped up the ground, after quakes for days to come
Nobody goes there because
This is my village
My village is broken and abandoned after the disaster that struck
That’s why nobody comes here.
Piper S, Y7, age 12, Selwyn House School
From the poem ‘My secret skating rink’ by Laura Ranger, Laura’s Poems, Godwit
The fire crackles,
embers glowing under layers of white ash.
floating in the bitter air.
Stars lie in the sky,
calling the ash to join them.
The glowing fire lights a path to the ocean,
The sparks splattering whispering to the moon,
The embers lay sleeping with the spirits.
Tilly O, age 12, Y8, Selwyn House School
The first sentence from a poem by Hana Smith – age 11 – from Toi Toi 24
Beyond the Fence
The primroses were over
Towards the edge of the wood,
Where the ground was covered with clovers,
And it sloped down to an old fence that miraculously withstood
The brambly ditch beyond.
The grass was long, and weeds thrive
Next to a mother duck and her ducklings in a pond,
And next to them was a hive.
The birds sang, while flowers bloomed,
With bees pollinating all around,
And the neighbours cat grooms,
The wind is hushed and it won’t make a sound.
Wild and thick, big and small, animals and plants in it’s clutch,
Rich in green, as endless and forever changing it was,
Undisturbed it was, from a human’s deadly touch,
It was always green as the emerald city in the Wizard of Oz.
And as the night falls the nocturnal animals scamper.
Soon the morning comes, and then night,
And it rains, but the leaves protect the forest only making it slightly damper.
Seasons come and go and the trees still stand upright,
But do you hear the hush of the wind,
Or the low whispering of the trees?
The restless stamping hooves of the mare’s kin,
Or the continuous buzzing of the bees?
Do you see the soft dirt that covers the ground,
And the branching veins on a leaf?
A squirming fly on a web that is bound,
Or the many colorful corals of the reef?
Do you feel the sharp whip of the plants,
And the tickling of the pine needles?
The mosquitos that make you dance,
Or the six legs of the beetles?
There is a magic in the air,
Something scampers out of sight.
Is it a wild bear?
The trees block out the light.
What could it be?
Amadeia D, Y6, age 10, Kaurilands School
From Watership Down by Richard Adam