Monthly Archives: November 2022

Poetry Box children illustrators: Isla (10) illustrates Paula Green’s ‘Treehouse’

by Isla (10)

The Tree House

in a treehouse
at dusk and wait
for stars 
in the black coal 

in a treehouse
at dawn and sing
with birds
in the marshmallow

 Paula Green


Isla A, age 10, Y5, Selwyn House School. Favourite book: Hilda and the stone forest. Interests: Drawing and writing. Favourite thing: My Toy polar bear. Favourite places: The couch.

Paula Green is poet, children’s author and blogger. Her new books are Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat (Penguin) and Roar Squeak Purr: A New Zealand treasury of animal poems (Penguin). She likes reading, writing, blogging, baking and going for walks.

Poetry Box review: Kim Chakanetsa’s Africana – An encyclopedia of an amazing continent

Africana: An encyclopedia of an amazing continent, Kim Chakanetsa and illustrated by Mayowa Alabi, Quarto Publishing, 2022

How to fit versions of Africa into a book? Africana: An encyclopedia of an amazing continent, written by Kim Chakanetsa and illustrated by Mayowa Alabi, is a big hardback book, rich in information, gorgeously designed and illustrated. Africa comprises 1.3 billion people,154 countries and 2000 unique languages. The key to the success of this book is an excellent structure. It brings the same five categories to the different regions: timelines, wildlife and landscapes, people and culture, changemakers and superstars, snapshots that open a region further.

At the back, there is a fascinating section on a global Africa that includes ‘Ten Ways Africa Has Influenced the World’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’. The five key categories are like an encyclopedic starter platter, with multiple fascinations that widen thinking and engagement.

For example: In Africa you will find the African elephant, the world’s largest animal, and conversely, one of the smallest animals, the elephant shrew. In Mauritius you will find rainbow dunes that are yellow, green, red, purple, green, violet. The Mawazine music festival attracts 2.5 million festival goers. Egypt is getting a new capital city to help with traffic and housing issues in Cairo. One of the oldest universities can be found in Morocco (established in the year 859). North Africa was colonised between C16 and C18, with everywhere a colony by C19. All countries had claimed independence by the 1950s. I didn’t know Ethiopa was the birthplace of coffee.

This essential book is a must have for every school library and every keen young reader who loves discovering our world, and seeing things in new and refreshing lights. It is a WOW book at every level.

Kim Chakanetsa is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and producer from Zimbabwe. She joined the BBC in 2013 after working for CNN International and Associated Press. For BBC World Service, she currently presents a weekly radio programme called The Conversation, which brings together women from different countries who have a shared profession, passion or experience. She has also worked on a number of documentaries for the World Service. When not in the studio, Kim likes attempting complex recipes.

Lagos-based multidisciplinary artist, Mayowa Alabi’s work is inspired by his childhood obsessions—African folklore and Afrofuturism. A graphic designer and photographer with over seven years of professional design experience, Mayowa previously worked as the Creative Lead at Co-Creation Hub Nigeria before taking on his current role as a visual artist for the BBC.

Quarto Publishing page

Poetry Box children illustrators: Richmond Rd School illustrate Bill Nagelkerke’s ‘Winter Cat’

Winter cat

Early morning cat
Pads on early morning
Frozen grass.
Unpick the curtain
From the frosted glass,
See an upraised paw,
A frozen glance,
A freezing cat in frost.

Bill Nagelkerke (published in The night the moon fell down, Bill Nagelkerke, 2019)

by Maelie (Year 5)

by Mathila (9)

by Scarlett (10)

Maelie H, Year: 5, Richmond road school. Books and authors: Wings of Fire (Tui T Sutherland) Warrior Cats (Erin Hunter) and pretty much all books. I loooooooove writing, I have done several stories. Other interests: writing, reading, drawing, singing….

Mathila K, Year 5, 9 years old, Richmond Road School. Loves reading and enjoys writing.

Scarlett W, Y5, age 10. Like these books: Wings of Fire, Warrior Cats. Like these authors: Tui t Sutherland, Erin Hunter. Like drawing, reading, writing.

Poetry Box review: Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis’s The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist, Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis, Gecko Press, 2022

Juliette MacIver is a whizz with words. Not all storytellers are as nifty with rhyme and rhythm. Before I sink into Juliette’s story, I overflow with admiration at what Juliette can do with words. She rhymes fox and crocs and socks which is worthy of Dr Seuss. Her rhythm flows like the sweetest currents. Trying saying: GRIZZLED GRIST DOES NOT EXIST out loud. Such mouth watering fun.

Sarah Davis is new to me as an illustrator but she is a whizz with images. She offers a master class in facial expressions. There’s a class full of them on every page, along with the teacher, Ms. Whiskersniff, and hide-and seek Liam (and maybe a mysterious Grist!). I spent ages looking at the class she drew for the endpapers, studying the “look” on every child. Genius!

Ms. Whiskersniff is either mad daring or mad crazy because she is taking her class to the wilderness for adventures and thrills! I LOVED looking at the backpacks of the young hikers and spotting a Swiss army knife, a wooden spoon, a fish slice and a skillet! Someone is going to be cooking something in the GREAT WIDE WILDERNESS!

Before they start climbing, all the children list their skills and then stop and stare at Liam when he says his skill is HIDING! We all need to be good at HIDING in case we need a spot of time out out from the BUSY NOISY world! As I read, I am tramping up the hill and scaling the rocks behind Ms. Whiskersniff, with her fleet of trampers, wondering what Health and Safety would say to ADVENTURES and THRILLS. I am spotting Liam who is very good at hiding indeed, and I am listening hard when he warns about the GRIST ahead!

Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Be a GRIST!!!

Ah! You must tag along as a reading member of this magnificent adventure, to discover the stretch of Juliette’s imagination, her magnetic word play and Sarah’s marvellous illustrations! I will warn you though, there is talk of Cream of Children Soup!

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist is the kind of book that gladdens your heart as both reader and writer, and reminds you Aotearoa children’s books are in the best of hands (and eyes and ears and hearts, and maybe even whiskernoses!). GLORIOUS!

Juliette MacIver is the author of 18 picture books. She has received the Storylines Notable Book Award six times, and has had multiple nominations for awards in NZ, Australia and the U.S. She recently won Best Picture Book in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Juliette lives with her husband and four children in Wellington.

Sarah Davis grew up in New Zealand. She won the 2009 Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Crichton Award for Best New Illustrator. She recently won Best Picture Book in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Sarah lives in Sydney, Australia.

Gecko Press page

Poetry Box children illustrators: Eloise (6) illustrates ‘Why Don’t Cows Hoot’

by Eloise (6)

Why Don’t Cows Hoot?

Why don’t cows hoot
and owls moo?
Why don’t cats howl
and dogs miaow?
Why don’t lions caw
and magpies roar?
Why don’t mice cheep
And chicks squeak?

Paula Green

My name is Eloise. I am six years old. My school is St Cuthbert’s. I like reading Billy 
B Brown and Ginger Green. I like going out for coffee dates and to play sports.

Paula Green is a poet, writer, reviewer, blogger and anthologist. She has written and edited a great many collections of poetry, including several for children. Her most recent poetry anthology is Roar Squeak: A New Zealand Treasury of Animal Poems (Penguin 2022). She has also published Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat (Penguin 2022).

Poetry Box popUP challenge – Tide’s Out Tai Timu – some favourite counting poems

Tide’s Out Tai Timu, Frances Plumptom, illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher, Mary Egan Publishing

I really loved Frances Plumpton’s new counting book, Tide’s Out Tai Timu, in both English and te reo Māori, with fabulous illustrations by Stephanie Thatcher. I loved the book so much I though it would be cool to go for a walk and write a counting poem. I was tossing up between walking in the house, around the garden or up the road! Most of my poem is true but not quite everything (all bar one line)!

Frances Plumpton is kindly sending each young counting-poem poet a copy of the book, plus one to the school library. Frances said this about the poems:

I really like the adjectives  and action of In The Forest, and how it is
all gathered together with Extraordinary

The repetition in At the Zoo reinforces the zoo experience and has given me
the earworm of Daddy’s taking us the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo
tomorrow . . .

At the Ice Cream Parlour had me licking my lips – not sure how I could ever

Gabi’s exploring a magical experience with In the Jungle

I gave young writers 48 hours to write a counting poem. Here are some favourites plus my attempt.

the poems

Out walking (most of it is true!)

One small dog rolling on the road
Two fierce turkeys screeching at the hawk

Three goats daydreaming
Four pretty paddocks with wild flowers waving

Five yellow dandelions smiling in the sun
Six baby clouds huffing and a-puffing

Seven tiger footprints in the gooey mud
Eight leaf skeletons floating in the puddle

Nine bumpy hills dozing like dinosaurs
Ten wild gusts blowing off my hat

Paula Green

In the Jungle

1 little red monkey.
2 squawking parrots.
3 slithering snakes.
4 snarling tigers.
5 brown deer dancing in the grass.
6 moon shadow elves granting spells.
It is magical.
It is wonderful!

Gabi S, age 7, Westmere School

At the Zoo

I saw 1 rainbow parrot, at the zoo.
I saw 2 stripey tigers, at the zoo.
I saw 3 tall giraffes, at the zoo.
I saw 4 huge rhinos, at the zoo.
I saw 5 big emus, at the zoo.
I saw 6 very tall ostriches, at the zoo.
I had fun, at the zoo.
I love those animals, at the zoo.

Ike I, age 9, Westmere school

At the Ice-cream Parlour

1 mint chocolate chip, green and black.
2 vanilla, white and creamy.
3 chocolate chip, chocolatey and crunchy.
4 goody goody gumdrop, that’s my favourite.
5 hungry children, waiting for ice-cream cones.

Narla T, age 8, Westmere School

In the Forest

1 slithering lizard.
2 swinging orangutans.
3 chirping cockatiels.
4 little deer prancing around.
5 big brown bears, growling.

Lola, age 7, Westmere School

Poetry Box children illustrators: Damon (11), Leah (10), Zoe (11), Annelise (10) and Cameron (10) illustrate Richard Langston’s ‘When We Should Plant’

Counting poem popUP challenge (deadline 9 pm Friday 25th)

My name is Damon. I am 11 years old and I go to a school called Our Lady Star of the Sea. I am a Year 6 student and have a passion for video games, art, stereo music and a sport called Handball. My favourite book is the ‘Wings of Fire’ series. There are three series; the graphic novels, chapter books and legends. The author Tui T. Sutherland, is also my favourite. I have been to more than 13 countries. I am also creating a comedian series with my friends Joshua and Isaac.

When We Should Plant

When sun
warms the earth,

When seeds
burst open,


When the plants
raise their arms,

Lower them & rest
at night,

Ready to rise
the next morning.

Feel the sun
warm on your legs

As they grow.

Richard Langston

My name is Leah. I am 10 years old and in Year 6. I go to Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Howick. I enjoy reading Lemony Snicket books and my favourite series is ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. I love fiction and fantasy books. I also enjoy gaming, drawing, painting, singing and netball. My favourite animals are ducks.

Hi, my name is Zoe. I am 11 years old. I go to Our Lady Star of the Sea School. I am interested in reading books about learning new languages and also riding horses. When I am grown up, I am going to be a show jumper. Drawing is my favourite subject at school as well as maths, reading, spelling and writing.

My name is Annelise and I go to Our Lady Star of the Sea School. I love books, frogs, music and art. I am 10 years old and my birthday is on the 3rd of April. I really love my friends. My favourite colours are green and red.

My name is Cameron and I am 10 years old. I got to Our Lady Star of the Sea School. I am Year 5 and will be in Year 6 next year. I enjoy maths, looking at maps and sports.

Poetry Box review Frances Plumpton’s Tide’s Out Tai Timu with a popUP poem challenge

Tide’s Out Tai Timu, Frances Plumptom, illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher, Mary Egan Publishing

Frances Plumpton’s debut picture book, illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher and translated into te reo Māori by Darryn Joseph, is a gem.

Tide’s Out Tai Timu is a discovery book, a counting book, a seashore book, a book to read in both te reo Māori and in English.

I adore the beach texture and colours of Stephanie’s illustrations. I can almost smell the low tide because I feel like I am the in the beach scene. I love how the beach is a circle shape on the counting pages, like a portal or a window. Then the illustrations spread out.

Frances has crafted the story beautifully – the words flow sweetly, the alliteration is honey for the ear. The adjectives are top-level interest, adding texture and colour to the story ‘Nine knobbly oyster shells’, ‘Ten twisty turret shells’. Say them out loud and you will see how they reward both eye and ear.

a popUP poem challenge for you

I love this book so much, just for fun I want to write a counting poem, and go hunting for cool adjectives and honey rhythms! In fact I want it to be a discovery poem – where I go for a walk and discover things.

I challenge you to write a counting discovery poem to join mine in a post. What do you see? What do you discover? In your garden? On the way home from school? In the school playground? In the bush? By a lake or a river or a pond? On the farm? In a city street, in your house?

Listen to each line!

Deadline: Friday 9 pm, November 25th
Send to:
Include: name, age, year, name of school
Don’t forget to put COUNTING POEM in subject line.

I will read poems at weekend, pick some favourites, give away a book and post some favourites next week.

About the author

Frances Plumpton has spent endless summers wandering Huia beach on the Manukau Harbour with her children and grandchildren. Frances has had a long career as a children’s librarian, and is well known as an ardent advocate for New Zealand children’s literature. She is a founder member of Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa and now manages Frances Plumpton Literary Agency. Frances, husband Gary and family, have spent summers at Huia on the Manukau Harbour for more than fifty years.

About the illustrator

Stephanie Thatcher lives in Huia looking out over Foster Bay and has used watercolours to illustrate the familiar scenes. Her three sons spend much of their time exploring the beach and surrounding bush. She is the author and illustrator of more than ten picture books, many celebrating New Zealand wildlife.

About the translator

Dr Darryn Joseph is a senior lecturer in Māori Language at Massey University, Palmerston North. He has always enjoyed beachcombing with his family. Darryn is a Trustee of Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa.

Mary Egan Publishing page

Poetry Box children illustrators: Aijay illustrates Paula Green’s ‘Anifables’

Aijay K is 11 years old. In Year 6. He likes to read Tom Gates books, Tin Tin, the Indian comic books from Amar Chitra Katha. Likes Selina Tusitala Marsh’s Mophead 1 and Tu, Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith. He’ll read Maus over the holidays. And an Indian fairy tales book. He is a big Star Wars fan. He is watching Andor together with his mum. Watching Cobra Kai now. In the past he has enjoyed Kiri and Lou. He plays Minecraft. He has weekly swimming lessons. He enjoys science and maths. Aijay loves narrative writing. 

Paula Green is poet, children’s author and blogger. Her new books are Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat (Penguin) and Roar Squeak Purr: A New Zealand treasury of animal poems (Penguin). She likes reading, writing, blogging, baking and going for walks.