Author Archives: Paula Green

Poetry Box review: Joy Cowley’s scrumptious The Gobbledegook Book




Joy Cowley with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson, Gecko Press


see below for two pop-up Joy Cowley challenges! I have some surprise giveaways!


Gecko Press has published the most gorgeous anthology of Joy Cowley’s favourite stories, poems and nonsense rhymes. Everything about this book is perfect. The size. The feel of the paper. The way the words dance on the page. The way the stories and poems dance in your mind. The way words are so deliciously playful. And the way Giselle Clarkson’s heavenly illustrations are poems on the page.

This is a book to treasure.

This is a book to read when the rain slaps the windows so you feel warm inside.

This is a book to read when you feel a bit flat and dreary and need a book to set you soaring.

This is a book to snuggle up with and read to your mum or dad, or your son or daughter, or your best friend. Even a cat would start purring. Even the howling wind would listen.


‘The Tiny Woman’s Coat’ is the first poem in the book and is about a tiny woman who needs a coat and needs help to get it.

Joy sets her imagination dancing like the autumn leaves and brings in a porcupine and a horse and hey presto! A happy ending. You will have to read it to find out how these things fit into the story but here is the first verse:


The tiny woman wanted a coat.

“Where will I get the cloth?”

“Try some of our leaves,”

said the autumn leaves.

Rustle, rustle, rustle.


Enter this anthology and you will find intriguing cats and a storm of ducks, jellybeans and tractors, a cheese trap and elephants. Oh and even an old singlet!

You will definitely grin from ear to ear.

The poems move and squawk and whoosh!

You will find old favourites such as ‘Nicketty- Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo’ and ‘Greedy Cat’.


Like Margaret Mahy, Joy is the Queen of Having Fun with WORDS, especially made up words. I love ‘Goggly Gookers’.

Grandma has her own names for things – spectacles are goggly gookers, gardens are fizz-bustles, cabbages are grimlings, cows are clops and pickles are bundajins. See what you make of the last verse! I adore it.


“Grandma, Grandma,

put on your googly gookers.

The clop is in the fizz-bustle

eating all the grimlings.

If you don’t get her out

you’ll be in a bundajin.

And that’s a fact.”


Joy is also the Queen of WHAT IF POEMS. Like what if you drop your jellybeans – what a ROLLICKING WHOOSH of story-book imagination in Do Not Drop Your Jellybeans’ – follow what happens when the jellybeans get dropped and you end up (after all kinds of catastrophes and calamities) on an iceberg! Wow!

I love the writing so much because Joy is our poetry trapeze artist: her words swing and soar with such agility on the line. I love how every line flows so sweetly with rhyme and invented words; the words that fit together like music. And all the delicious music goes hand in hand with storytelling that is equally delicious. The combination makes you feel so GOOD. Here is the start to ‘Super Jumble’:


There was trouble in the jungle

wen a buffalo tried to swingle

like a monkey from a bundle of vines.


He got into a tangle

and was left there to dangle

at a very awkward angle, in the lines.



The Goobledegook Book is the perfect book to read up a mountain or by a river, in the tent when you go camping or in the kitchen as the soup simmers, or in bed before you nod off to sleep and dream of cats and more cats and acrobatic words.

I love this book so much.

Gecko Press page


Two challenges for you

If you love this book tell me what your favourite poem or story in it is and why you like it in a few sentences and I will post some answers.

I would also love to post some fan mail for Joy Cowley. Write a letter to Joy saying what you love about her books – a bit about you – anything! I will post some and then she can get to read them.

I will have some giveaway surprises for some lucky young poetry fans!


Deadline: Friday October 25th

Send to:

Include your name, age year and name of school (or say home schooled)

Don’t forget to write Joy Cowley challenge in the subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will post on Monday 28th October.










Poetry Box noticeboard: my review and pop-up challenge week (Y1-Y8)




Each day next week (from October 21st to October 28th) I am posting a review of a New Zealand children’s book and a pop-up challenge to go with it.

You will have 48 hours to do the challenge – I will post some responses and I will have BOOKS to give away.

I am in the mood to celebrate writing for children in Aotearoa.

I do hope you will join in (Y1 to Y8).




Poetry Box review: Bill Nagelkerke’s The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems with an invite for a child interviewer


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Bill Nagelkerke, The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Copy Press, 2019

HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill. See below if you want to put your name in the hat to be picked.


At night


At night I look up at the sky,

I see the moon and stars sweep by.

I take the universe to bed,

And keep it safe inside my head.



A former librarian, Bill Nagelkerke is a busy children’s author, publishing fiction for children of all ages, and translating children’s books from Dutch (including a number of Gecko titles such as the magnificent Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede). I discovered Bill’s poetry in the School Journal and was instantly attracted to his deft and playful use of words. I included his poems in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children and and am now delighted to see he has a debut children’s poetry collection out.

In 2013 Nagelkerke was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award in recognition of his dedicated contribution to children’s literature and literacy in New Zealand.

I was very happy to write a small blurb for Bill’s book so some of my words of praise are singing on the cover. I loved the way


in The Night the Moon Fell Down words fizz, lines glide, rhymes sizzle. You will find soccer balls, winter cats and concrete cakes; there are bottled stars adventure parks and elephant rocks. Bill Nagelkirke is a poetry wizard.


Looking at poetry on a screen is never the same as holding a book and seeing how the words and white space fit on the page with the illustrations. The images have personalities of their own just like poems; there are photographs, drawings, silhouettes, prints, things I can’t identify. They are dark and light and intriguing.

Why do I love Bill’s poetry? I love it because his poems dance with life, humour, imagination, stories. Sometimes they start with a simple idea – like switching on the light at night – and then produce an image that is warm in your mind. He is a wizard at this.




One quick flick

One sharp click

One small bulb of light

Scares away the big, dark night


Authors often get asked where they get their ideas from – I think poems have starting points, leaping pads – and it seems Bill’s come from both his own experience and his inventive mind. There is a poem about his dad (which may or may not be about his actual dad!) who loves making jokes by making puns (when a word has more than one meaning as in ‘kneads’ and ‘needs’). The poem’s last line makes me hope this is a little biography because it is tender link between father and son!


(My dad loves words as well.)


Bill can take a subject that a universe of poets have written poems about (think the rain, the stars, cats, rocks, leaves) and make the subject fresh. I picked his poem ‘Rain’ for the Treasury because the image sparks all my senses and the lines both surprise and delight me. I love the opening lines:


I like the straight-down

Silky rain


Some poems are puzzles. I mean they really are puzzles such as ‘A picture-puzzler poem’. This might be a new poem form. I want to give it a go! So inventive!

Some poems surprise, especially with similes and metaphors. I love the poem ‘Parcel’. Holland is a parcel that gets unwrapped every Christmas – Holland gets unwrapped! The parcel gets unwrapped as do memories. The gift calendar shows a snowy Dutch December but here in New Zealand things are different. I love the way this poem got me musing.

I also love the way one word sometimes chimes through a Bill-Nagelkerke poem like a musical note and then leaves you with a startling image.




‘Wipe your shoes

Don’t leave


All over the mat.’


The leaves in the forest

Are like that mat.



The arrival of a collection of poetry for children is a rare treat in Aotearoa and is an extra special treat when the book is by an author whose poetry you have long admired. I see this collection as a treasury in its own right.

You can dip in and find just the right poem for the day’s weather, for your mood, to spark you to write your own poems or to remind you how delicious words are. Some poems made me laugh, some poems made me sit still and savour an image, some poems made me thoughtful. Some poems made me look back at the world I am used to and see it in new lights. This is the joy and magic of poetry.

Yes Bill Nagelkerke is a poetry wizard and this book ought to be in every school library and the hands of every child who loves  poetry gymnasiums.




I wandered

In a forest of tall bamboo,






HOT NEWS: I have a copy of Bill’s new book for one child who would like to interview Bill.  I will pick one child to interview him and I will post the interview on my blog.

If you want to be picked send your name, year, age and school to

Don’t forget to put Bill interview in email subject line.

Deadline: Thursday 17th October







Poetry Box October challenge: Happy poems!



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When I read poems I feel all kinds of things -some poems make me puzzle and ponder, some poems make me laugh or feel sad and some poems make me happy. I especially love it when poetry makes me happy. It might be what the poem is but often it is how the poem is written. I feel happy because I am reading a poem that gives me goosebumps.

I have given you two different choices for happy poems.



For Groovy Fish Maia gave me this title: The Shabby Dinosaur

I decided my dinosaur was going to be happy. I said that right in the first line. I invented an image of the dinosaur and then I decided he was as full as bull with happiness. I went hunting in my imagination for things that made him happy.



The Shabby Dinosaur

for Maia


The shabby dinosaur is happy.

He lives on the verandah

with a cat named Lucinda,

a mouse named Clover

and a flea called Bea.


The shabby dinosaur sleeps on

a beaded waistcoat

that is old and tatty,

purple socks with

pink spots and holes,

and a straw hat matty

with dandelions and bows.


The shabby dinosaur sits

for hours in the bright

summer sun breathing in happy

thoughts of rollerblading

hammock dozing

finger painting

guitar picking

and frozen ice blocks

until he is as full

as a bull

with happiness.


Paula Green from Groovy Fish and other poems Makāro Press, 2019


Your challenge is to write a poem that makes you happy.


It might be a poem like mine about things that make someone or something happy:


You could write a poem about what makes


or someone in your family

or your pet

or an imagined animal

full as a bull with happiness.




You might do what I also do and write a poem about something that makes YOU HAPPY without 

ever mentioning the word happy. You might write about a bird or your cat or the moon or an old kauri tree or eating pizza or climbing a tree or watching the ocean or the sun go down. Anything you like!!!!


Here is another poem from Groovy Fish that makes me happy because one summer I slept in a tree house and because our daughters had a tree house in a macrocarpa tree. Holly gave me the title.


The Tree House

for Holly



in a tree house

at dusk

and wait

for stars

in the black coal






in a tree house

at dawn

and sing

with birds

in the pink paper



Paula Green from Groovy Fish and other poems Makāro Press, 2019


Top tips

Don’t send your poem the day your write it!!!

Listen to your poem and hear which bits sound good.

Is there a word you need to change?

Do a test pot for the ending – try 3 to 5 – pick your favourite.

Try three titles  – pick your favourite.


Deadline: 29th October

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

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

Send to:

Some favourite poems: I read all your emails at the end of the month and will post some favourites on 31st October. I will have at least one book to give away but it is a challenge not a competition.


Have fun writing poems!!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


check out my October challenge tomorrow!


The Lion and the Cheetah

In the grasslands

under an angry sun,

the cheetah was enjoying

her meaty lunch.


The minute she turned

her back, the lion pounced

and ran off with her meat.


The cheetah ran as fast

as a tornado, and

caught up with the lion thief.


“I challenge you

to a staring competition!”

she hissed at the lion.

“If I lose, you

can finish my lunch.”


The cheetah pushed her lunch

into a sack so

the ants wouldn’t eat it.


The two animals stared

at each other.  The lion

with his fierce coal eyes.

The cheetah with her

tear-stained eyes.


They stared and stared,

and watched and waited

and didn’t blink

and didn’t blink,

for ages and ages.


The sack with the lunch

was between the two

staring cats.  The lion

growing angry shouted,

“Look at the sun, it’s burning up!”


The cheetah looked up

and said, it doesn’t

look any different lion.”

When she looked down

the lion was running

off with the sack.


He had stolen a sack

of sand. The real

meat, she had hidden

in a termite cave.


She finished her tasty lunch

in the cave.  She heard

the lions fuming roar

five miles away.

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


Snow rabbit

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

Ivy M  age: 6   Y2  Ilam Primary School, Christchurch


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

Olivia C Age 8  Y4   Fendalton Open Air School


The Ugly Duckling

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

One day he decided TOO MUCH Then he ran away

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

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

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

Skylarose H  Age 10 Year 6 Maoribank School


What I did

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

Eileen C Age 9  Ilam School



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

Ashley C  Age – 7   Year – 2  Ilam School


How Fairy Tales are Created

First take a bucket of bubblespark water

from the Wishing Waterfall of the West.


Next pluck a feather from a roosting rosella

on top of Mount Shiverfrost.


Next go deep into the Volcano of Vulturetop

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


Next pick a Goddess Berry from the Alive Wood,

just south of Dwarfton.


In Dwarfton, buy all the colours

from the Rambious Rainbow.


Ride the rainbow to Tipsy Topsy Town,

where you will need to steal a Silver Spiral.


Trek to the Prehistoric Lake and

dive down deep to collect a triceratop’s tusk.


Finally take all the ingredients to Buccaneer Cove

and watch the sun set.


When the first star appears in the sky,

you will have a fairy tale.


“Every world is interconnected”

An explanation:

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

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

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

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

●       Mount Ruapehu in my Pouwhenua poem, became Mount Shiverfrost


Jozef B   Age 11   Year 6   Three Kings School


Little Miss NONSENSE


Little Miss Muffet,

Fell off her tuffet,

While building her house of bamboo.


The clock struck one,

She began to run,

But she forgot to grab her shoe!

Olivia C   Year 6   Age 11  Three Kings School


Why Ants Invade Houses

(Based on a Myth by Gemma)


A powerful sorceress

In a massive fortress

In the middle of the ocean

Conjuring creatures


Dragons and werewolves

Serpents and giants

But fearing to make

The Fierce Ant!


Half alien, half insect

Powerful and cunning

Only controlled by

A maze of extraordinary dimensions


A risky creation

With unimaginable rewards

Its intelligence and strength

Hiding an ancient secret


A creature that clones

Multiplying like a mathematician

In a quiet place with no boundaries

It is invincible


The sorceress dared

Sailing the oceans

Gathering magical items

Conducting the terrible experiment


Under the full moon

Chanting mysteriously

“Ancient beast, Ye shall feast,

Upon the things, Ye like the least…”


The enormous beast unleashed

Threw his creator up high

Left to clone an army

Snarling “I will rule the world”


The horrified sorceress

Conjured a maze

Its extraordinary dimensions

Disguised as a house


The ants entered the house maze

Power diminishing, size shrinking

No quiet place, boundaries all around

Condemned to life in a Labyrinth


But every now and then

Seeing freedom through a window

Finding the power to clone its tiny self

An army of small ants marches on


And that is why ants invade houses

Daniel L Age 11, Year 6, Adventure School



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

Alyssa B Year 4   Age 8   Fendalton Open Air School


The Tortoise and the Hare

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

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

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

Lucy K   9 years old Year 4 Ilam School


T h a n k   y o u !





Poetry Box celebrations: visiting Te Totara Primary School in Hamilton



The river is deep

The river is dark

The fish follow

wherever the river


Shiny sparkly soft

The river is never ending

Rotem Y3



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

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

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

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

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

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




The rain comes down

roaring thunder rain

pouring down


Rain on the water

dripping on the roof




Y2 classes









Poetry Box review: The Runaways by Ulf Stark




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

The Runaways by Ulf Stark

illustrated by Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gecko Press page