Author Archives: Paula Green

Poetry Box noticeboard: Winter Words – Matariki Children’s Poetry Competition Brief at Mahurangi East Library

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This year for our Matariki poetry competition we want you to write and present on a topic or an aspect of navigation that pertains to either your family, or Aotearoa.

Our Auckland Libraries Regional Matariki theme is:

‘Herea tō waka ki te whetū, kāore ki te titiwai Tie your canoe to a star, not a glow worm.’

The Matariki Constellation above & glow worms below.

(Extra kudos for including the regional theme whakatauaki? I wonder?)


Invited participants:

Snells Beach Primary School, Horizon School
Matakana Primary School, Leigh Primary School, Pakiri School, Mahurangi College, Kip McGrath Students

There is no time to spare as entries must meet the deadline of Sunday June 23rd.

Entries to be emailed in school lots, or independently emailed to: Attn: Fleur Coleman. By 6pm Sunday 23rd June.

Finalists will be notified by: Close of business Tuesday 25th June and should be prepared to present their work at Mahurangi East Library starting 6.30pm on Wednesday 26th June. All family and friends are welcomed to attend the evening. Refreshments served by the Friends Committee. Your gold coin donation is welcomed.

Our sincere thanks for your continued support of this exciting local library poetry comp where we aim to give your kids an authentic reason to write and present.

Please confirm your school involvement as soon as possible.

Please be sure to understand the brief, please email if you wish to seek further clarification.

Ngā mihi mahana,

Fleur Coleman on behalf of,

The Friends of Mahurangi East Library
‘Winter Words’ &
The staff of Mahurangi East Library.


Kia ora koutou,

Dear Schools, we are writing to encourage your students to take part in our Friends of Mahurangi East Library – Mahurangi Matariki Youth Poetry Competition which is a feature of our ‘Winter Words’ stand-up-poetry and creative writing evenings. The Winter Words evening events run from May through to September, on the last Wednesday of the month and start at 7pm.

The June session of Winter Words is for the kids, a celebration of Matariki – the Māori New Year. This is the one session of Winter Words set aside for children. This is their time to shine like the Matariki cluster.
Last year we looked at ‘Taonga tuku iho – a treasure handed down’ and ‘whānaungatanga – my family’.
This year we look to Tangaroa, for a sea voyaging theme and we celebrate our belonging in Aotearoa.

We hope you will all get involved – the success of this evening is dependent on everyone pulling in the same direction. The teachers need to find time to motivate the kids, and ideally enable them to peer critique and support them as they edit their mahi. The parents need to bring finalists along on the evening and support them. Our local hapū have to put aside their commitments to get here too, and our judges need to sift through hundreds of poems to choose their stand-out pieces and then convene and try to agree. (Not an easy job I assure you!)

Our wonderful Auckland Libraries – Mahurangi East Library Community and library staff support with providing the venue. All of our super Friends of the Library contribute to the prizes for the kids, every time they purchase donated books or pick up a raffle ticket. Our Friends Committee show manaakitanga on the evening as they host our whānau with refreshments and added organisation.

Paula Green offers us copy of her new children’s Poetry book – ‘Groovy Fish’. (Remember to check out Paula’s Poetry Box blog for hints and examples of children’s poetry.) Charlotte Gibbs editor of Toi Toi Magazine will offer prizes once more, and one lucky poet will win a copy of ‘Jillion’. Healing Through Arts Trust is a new sponsor this year and will be offering a family pass to their upcoming show at the Warkworth Town Hall, ‘Next Steps’. This year’s ultimate prize, a trip to Auckland’s Maritime Museum where Larry Paul skipper of Waitangi 1894 will host us on-board for a luncheon with the Friends. ‘Waitangi’ is a Logan Brothers gaff rigged racing yacht, built on the shores of the Waitematā and berthed at Auckland’s Maritime Museum. You will also get to spend time in the museum itself. Our thanks also to Ann Cook of Kip McGrath Education Warkworth, who are another returning sponsor. Our trusty book supplier is the Matakana Village Bookshop.

With no time to spare, we hope you will be able to present these themes and support student writing as soon as possible. We aim to make this event memorable for our young creative poets and trust it will be an event that they come to look forward to each year. Other announcements will follow as we confirm sponsorship and judging roles.

Ngā mihi mahana,

Fleur Coleman

Senior Children’s and Youth Librarian, Mahurangi East Library & Winter Words co-ordinator for the Mahurangi East Friends of the Library group contact me at: or phone: 02108271072


Poetry Box review: Eva Lindström’s ‘My Dog Mouse’

my June pattern poem challenge



Eva Lindström My Dog Mouse  Gecko Press 2019



This is a scrumptious book – a beautiful book – a book to nestle into on a stormy weekend and to most definitely share .

The illustrations are simple – large areas of subtle colour become the backdrop for little points of fascination. The first page is all yellow and ochre, and there in the corner of the room is a girl looking off the page to the rest of the story – the direction we as readers are heading. The words on the page are equally plain and fascinating:


I love Mouse.



I know by the cover and title Mouse is a dog! That intrigues me.

Good picture books always have a little bit of poetry and a little bit of plainness in them. And that is exactly what I love about My Dog Mouse. The similes are heavenly because they make Mouse come alive.

He’s old and fat with ears as

thin as pancakes.


The girl loves taking Mouse for a walk and everything they do is slow, slow, slow.

They need time to look at things (teeth, clouds, things flying in the wind).


The girl is very good at looking after Mouse when she takes Mouse for a walk.

I won’t ruin this delightful story by sharing the ending but this is a story of kindness and of sharing.


It is a story of  E M P A T H Y   (which is a mix of kindness and listening and sharing)


and it is such a treasure of a book that reading it once is simply not enough. You have to read it again and again and then find a best friend to read it to. Plainness and poetry are such a perfect mix. I see both in the story and in the illustrations. A universe of stars for


My Dog Mouse!


Gecko Press page









Poetry Box noticeboard: a new collection of poems and illustrations for children by Paula Green

Try my June challenge: pattern poems



Groovy Fish and Other Poems is out in July! These are the poems I wrote after collecting titles from children around Aotearoa on my Hot Spot Poetry Tour several years ago. So I can’t wait for you to read them. I will be doing an event at the Children’s Bookshop in Wellington to celebrate and will be inviting children to write poems and read with me. And … for the first time I did my own illustrations.

Ahoy! Press is publishing it.

I am planning other events you can join in so will keep you posted.







Poetry Shelf noticeboard: the NZ Book Awards for Children & YA finalists

Try my June challenge: pattern poems


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Full details here

Let me know if you have read and loved any of these books and I will post a selection of your comments (Y0 -8) – email  by June 20th.




Picture Book Award

Mini Whinny: Happy Birthday to Me, Stacy Gregg, illustrated by Ruth Paul (Scholastic NZ)

Puffin the Architect, Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)

Things in the Sea are Touching Me, Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton (Scholastic NZ)

Who Stole the Rainbow? Vasanti Unka (Penguin Random House)


Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Search for a Kiwi Killer, Des Hunt (Tōrea Press)

The Dog Runner, Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)

The Mapmakers’ Race, Eirlys Hunter, illustrated by Kirsten Slade (Gecko Press)

The Telegram, Philippa Werry (Pipi Press)

Whetū Toa and the Magician, Steph Matuku, illustrated by Katharine Hall (Huia Publishers)


Young Adult Fiction Award

Ash Arising, Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Invisibly Breathing, Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House)

Legacy, Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers)

The Rift, Rachael Craw (Walker Books Australia)


Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women, Barbara Else (Penguin Random House)

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao, Debbie McCauley, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna and translated by Tamati Waaka (Mauao Publishing)

New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts, Ned Barraud (Potton & Burton)

Whose Home is This?, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Potton & Burton)


Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Cook’s Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook, written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, illustrated by Ant Sang, written by Michael Bennett (Penguin Random House)

Oink, written and illustrated by David Elliot (Gecko Press)

Puffin the Architect, written and illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, illustrated by Josh Morgan, written by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers)


Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

Ngā Whetū Matariki i Whānakotia, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara, translated by Ngaere Roberts (Scholastic NZ)

Te Haka a Tānerore, Reina Kahukiwa, illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Mauri Tū)

Te Hīnga Ake a Māui i Te Ika Whenua, written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley, translated by Darryn Joseph (cultural adviser) and Keri Opai (Upstart Press)


Best First Book Award

Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Bullseye Bella, James T Guthrie(Scholastic NZ)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Slice of Heaven, Des O’Leary (Mākaro Press)

The Stolen Stars of Matariki, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara (Scholastic NZ)

Poetry Box June challenge: Pattern poems


hop skip hop

skip hop skip

skip skip skip

hop hop hop


flop flip flop

flip flop flip

flip flip flip

flop flop flop


now I drop








You can write poems that play with patterns. I love poem patterns – they can be simple and they can be intricate.

So your challenge is to write poems with word patterns.

Here are some starting points for you:


Word order patterns

Collect a handful of words and then make patterns on the lines by repeating them in different ways. They may or may not rhyme.


swoop kite swoop soar

kite swoop soar swoop

swoop soar swoop kite

soar kite swoop swoop


First line patterns

Repeat the first line of each verse.


The cat sleeps in her basket

the sun makes her fur shine

The cat sleeps in her basket

she dreams of climbing trees

The cat sleeps in her basket

soon it will be night


First word patterns

Repeat the first words on each line.


I sing to the stars

I sing to the moon

I sing in the garden

I sing in my room


Rhyme poems

Rhyme is such a fun way to make patterns in a poem – you can make rhyme patterns at the end of the lines or even the start of the lines! Or you can sprinkle rhyme through the poem and make a sprinkle pattern.


The cat dances on her paws

The dog pirouettes on her feet

The cat swipes with her claws

The dog asleep in the heat


I like hiding rhyme patterns


The tiger pounces on her prey

she swoops and bounds

away with her dinner.


Form poems

There are lots of poems that use a special form with loads of rules.

You can follow the rules of a form of you can break the rules.

These poems always use patterns.

For example a strict haiku has three lines with 5 then 7  then 5 syllables. It doesn’t traditionally rhyme.

These are some poetry forms:  villanelle, pantoum, sonnet, sestina, rondel, triolet.


A triloet has 8 lines that make a pattern   (tree -o- lay)

A (first line)
B (second line)
a (rhymes with first line)
A (repeat first line)
a (rhymes with first line)
b (rhymes with second line)
A (repeat first line)
B (repeat second line)


The Moon


The moon shines bright

the trees rattle in the wind

cats creep in the night

the moon shines bright

cats creep in the light

cats like sardines tinned

the moon shines bright

the trees rattle in the wind


That was tricky to write and I might break the rules (I often do and might write ‘cats licking tinned sardines’ instead!).


So play with word patterns. Invent your own!   HAVE POETRY FUN!!


Deadline: 26th June

Send to:

Please include: your name, age, year, name of school

Don’t forget to put PATTERN POEM in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

Open to Year 0 to Year 8 in Aotearoa.

I will write letters back at the end of the month.

I will have a book to give away because I like to give books away!

I will post some favourites on June 30th.







Poetry Box May challenge: some favourite poems from Talking with Our Grandparents




Thank you so much for all the fabulous poems inspired by your grandparents (and an aunty!). I felt so moved reading these.

I imagined having grandparent poetry readings in schools! You could invite gandparents in for morning tea and then read them all your poems. How wonderful. I once took a group of young poets to a retirement village and it was completely amazing! I must do it again.

I really like the way Westmere School went hunting for grandparent secrets because there is so much we can learn from our elders. I like the way some of you wrote about how your grandparent was when they were your age! I like the poetry play and the surprising detail.

Remember this is not a competition but a challenge – but that each month I send a book to at least one poet. This month thanks to Gecko Press I am sending Encyclopedia of Grannies to Charlotte C at Ilam School.

It was so hard picking poems to post – I loved them all – I do hope you try my June challenge.



My Grandad


When my grandad was alive, we lived in Rambukkana, in Sri Lanka.

The clothes he wore were black, white or grey.

His hair was as white as a snowflake.

My grandad used to love to play with me when I was a baby.

He has passed away.

Rynie R  Age: 6 yrs, Ilam School


The Collectors

My Grandparents’ house is wonderful
What is best about them is that they collect
Knucklebones, greenstone, scout blankets
And Grandad’s old school pencil case

Ben E,  Age 7, St Andrews College


My Grandpa

My Grandpa’s face
Is as crumbly
As can be
So you can tell he is old.

He lives in a special house
As big as can be.

Max D, age 6 – Ilam School



My Gran


My Gran

Bakes lemon slice

Chops it into squares.

She sings like a bird

And walks like

A queen.

She is as sweet

As a buttercup.

Charlotte C Age 7 Year 3 St Andrews College




Grandad as old as time.
Grandad who watches the trees turn green, then brown, then green again.
Grandad your brown hair is now grey.

Isobel P, Age 8, From Ilam School, Christchurch


Sumner Beach

At Sumner beach my grandma watches a clown fish find a new home to lay its eggs.

My grandma sails on the sea.

She goes snorkelling with dolphins and sees a coral reef.

By Caitlin Coupé  Age 6  Ilam School


My Granny and Grandad’s House

My Granny and Grandad’s
House, a place where
I like to
Play in the grass
Rolling, tumbling
With my grandparents.
A place where I like to
Make amazing cakes
That are big, small,
Skinny and fat
With my grandparents,
But the thing that I like
To do the most is
Just being with my
Granny and Grandad

Aine, Age: 11, Year: 6, Fendalton School



In memory of Grandad


As time passes slowly by, my branches start to snap

I am growing older and my trunk could soon collapse

But I need never worry, my grandchildren are here

My tiny seedlings in the soil will always be near

I am only human but my inner thoughts tell me

That nothing ever truly dies – life is like a tree


Skylarose,  Te Awanui Class Years 4-6. Maoribank School, Upper Hutt

(Teacher’s note: Skylarose wrote this after talking to her grandad who died this week of cancer, making his thoughts even more pertinent.)


For My Grandad

I love my grandad, he cares for me, like I’m a fern in his garden
He keeps me healthy and gives me things I need like his soil for his trees
He lets me visit great granddad Warner who isn’t so fast and agile anymore
And lets me visit my great grandmother’s grave,
I love my grandad like he’s all the stars shining as one
he makes me feel alive, he makes life fair.

Georgie M, Age:9, Selwyn House School


Hide and Seek (written from the perspective of Nan)


When your big cousins were young

I loved to play hide and seek with them

I would pretend I didn’t see their tippy toes

Peeking out from under the curtain


When you Dad was a little boy

I loved to play hide and seek with him

I would pretend I didn’t know that under the bedclothes

He was curled up like a hedgehog


When I was a little girl

I loved to play hide and seek with anyone

I would pretend to hide as I galloped through the orchard

And no one could ever find me


Now I am an old granny

I love playing hide and seek with you

I can pretend I am young again

And remember my whole life has been one happy game

By Daniel L. Age 10, Year 6, Adventure School, Porirua


Poppy’s Lolly Jar

Poppy hides his lolly jar.
Lachie and Michael look in the car.
Where are the jelly snakes?
Where are the chocolate flakes?
Poppy’s put them on his bedside table.
Come and get them if you are able.
His camera will catch you.
There’ll be a hullabaloo.
When Poppy shakes the jar
you’ll be no star.

Tom N  Age 10 Year 6  Hoon Hay School/ Te Kura Koaka


My Auntie Denise

My Auntie Denise flies as high as a bird
With the clouds
And the sun
And the moon.
With what rises
And the leaves
That blow the wind
That howl
And the trees
That crash into little pieces of smoky wood.
I know she loves the wind
And nature.
Her hair is brown
As a crunchy leaf
Cracking to the stars.

Mathilda H  Age 6, Year 2, Ilam School



Richmond School sent a wonderful bunch of poems – I really loved the way these poems took me back in time and made the grandparent in the poem come alive. Here are some:


Grandma’s Life of Secrets
Going on a ship from England to NZ,
learning the Kiwi vibe,
wasn’t quite what Grandma was made for.
Her posh accent vs the kiwi twang…
Grandma never understood why
she sounded like a horse,
in a pack of ponies.
Grandma had two brothers,
and a Dad.
Two girls in the family was like
being ice cream in the hot sun.
When Grandma was 10
she had a lot of friends.
She loved that she had been brought
to a brighter nicer place of warmth.
She didn’t mind much…
apart from the fact…
she never
had a

Francesca F age nine year 5 Richmond Road School


Grandma’s Secrets
Grandma is a survival specialist.
She survived the night,
In a hole, in a glacier,
Watching the stars shine bright.

She went diving solo
Watching a shoal of stingray
Gliding past her face.

When she was a child,
(That’s hard to imagine)
All her siblings,
In the beginning,
Were younger than her,
I think.

When she was young,
In her classroom among
All the children
There wasn’t a single screen.

Instead of a white-board,
There was a single blackboard.
Just one teacher
To forty kids.

She was born in Scotland,
Made her way to New ‘Land.
Went to Whāngārei.
She went to stay.

Then she moved to Port Chalmers.
It certainly charmed her.
She decided to stay.
My perfect grandma today!

Gretel H, age nine, year 5, Richmond Road School, Auckland


Poem for Nana Banana

My nana has lived in New Zealand, since she was a child,
Her young life wasn’t particularly wild.
She often spent her holidays at a farm,
Which sounded quite calm,
Except for her 6 or 7 bothers and sisters.
She told me that her leather shoes gave her blisters,
When she ran in the green field.
But if she hopped in the bath her feet healed,
It felt nice, but it was quite slow.
In the morning her dad would get his hoe,
Gather his crops, and make some dough.
A few days later she would go home,
Back in Auckland it wasn’t as nice to roam,
Because it wasn’t as green,
And it was a different sort of clean.

Wolf C Age 10 Year 6 Richmond Road School


Glorious Granddads

(warning only half of this poem is true otherwise my granddad would be bald)

My grandad was a child in the blitz,
he must of thought it was more evil than Voldemort’s nose slits.
If you were in the blitz, you would know that the bombs would make big old pits.
So people would move you to the countryside,
where you eat stuff a bit like rotting silverside.

Old gramps was very sad when he had to move in with Brad, (that’s a random name).
It might have even made him mad.

The guys (and girls) who got him there saw that he was tearing his hair.
So they sent him back hoping to keep his hair intact.
He went without slack and didn’t even look back.

When he arrived home
his mother didn’t dare pass him the comb.
She gave him a hair growth lotion,
to grow more hair in a nice smooth motion.

For my glorious granddad who is turning 90 this year.

Toby R 10 yrs old Year 5 Richmond Rd School



Thank you Westmere School for sending a terrific bunch of poems – i really enjoyed the sense of humour running through them and the way some used strong detail to make the person in the poem come alive. Here are some:


My Teency Tiny Grandma

My Grandma
was born on a farm.
When she was was younger,
she was mini,
she was little,
she was tiny.
She complained about being short…
So her dad said…


So she did.
For ages.
But it obviously did nothing,
she is still..
(but she is pretty cool!)

Ashlin P Age:11 LS6 Westmere School


Nanny Maree

Her favorite toy was Bestest, the doll.
Her favorite ice cream was strawberry.
She had a favorite subject, English
and she didn’t have a nickname
(she hated them).
She was nice,
and didn’t get bullied.
nor did she do it herself.
She read a book
(or two)
when she was bored.
She had an incident with a cat…

Ella M Age 9 LS6 Westmere School




Secrets about Grandad…
My Grandad had a teddy called Ted.
His favorite colour was red.
He liked hokey pokey ice cream.
His favorite food was pork chow mein.
His favorite plant was a poppy.
He had a rabbit that was hoppy.
His favorite sport was to run.
He thought school was fun.
Secrets about Grandad…

Olive W Age : 9 LS6 Westmere School


My Gran’s Life

My granny’s very fun
But was she fun when
She was young?
Yes she was.

She had a friend called Cath
She had a huge bath.
Guess what?
They are still friends.

She had cats.
She made them hats.
How many cats did she have?
10, 20, 30?
No only 2.

My granny liked licorice,
And she would wish,
For a big dish,
full of licorice.

My granny had her feet in plaster.
It was a huge disaster,
but it didn’t last a…

Tilly Obrien 9 years ls8 Westmere School


My Nan

My granny is called Nan
I am her biggest fan.
She used to love to help bake steak and mash,
with my great gran Lorna.
They used to knit sweaters in the winter,
to be warmer.
Her favorite color was red, like the flowers at the beach,
swimming with her pony, called Peach.
She fell off her pony,
it kicked her in the head.
She woke up in the hospital bed,
luckily she wasn’t dead.

Molly Davidson age: 9 LS8 Westmere school

My Grandma’s Childhood.

When my grandma was young,
her favourite book was Peter Pan.
Her favourite food was plum jam.
She was a straight A student.
She was very diligent.
She loved to dance and sing.
Tap, ballet, jazz… everything.
Her favourite color was red.
She loved to lie in bed.
She dyed her sister’s hair green.
Her first friend was Eileen.
When my grandma was was young.

Laura J Age 10  LS7  Westmere Schoo



When my Grandma was Young

When my grandma was younger,
she was wiggly, jiggly all over the place.
She just didn’t sit still
in Maungawhau Primary School.
Her favorite subject was grammar,
she loved it the best,
forget about the rest.
The thing that made her sad,
was when people left her alone.
She had two pets,
a cat called Sandy
and a bluey called Budgie.
a budgie called Bluey!
That’s my grandma’s childhood.

Ava R Age: 9  LS7 Westmere school



My Grandma’s favorite color is red
But before it was blue instead.
Her favorite animal was a bird
And it has not changed.
She would come in the room
To make everyone’s day.
She was always happy,
Just like today.
She ate eggs and rye bread
And she still does.
She had golden hair the color of honey,
And she was always so funny.
She was an artist just like now,
And that is my Grandma
From then to now.

By Maya B Westmere school age:10


The Strange But Funny (But Maybe Not True) Poem About My Nana

We call her Nina,
although she wasn’t a cleaner.
She was very funny,
and her hair was quite fuzzy.
She had a cat,
and her best friend’s name was Pat.
Her favourite food was schnitzel,
and her boyfriend’s name was Mitchell.
Her favourite colour was green,
but she didn’t like ice cream.
It maybe quite funny,
but only a bit is true …

Katelyn M LS7 Age:9 Westmere school


We call our grandma Oma.
No, she is not Dutch.
She lives in New Zealand.
My cousin named my Oma, from her first words.
She liked wiggly jiggly jelly.
She doesn’t like to be called Sally.
She hated grotty, green beans.
She loved the colour red
Like the rug on her bed.
She liked walking along logs
With her eight little dogs.
Oma sings us songs every night
In the soft moonlight.

Georgia M age 9 LS7 Westmere school


My Nana’s Story

When my Nana was little,
she had little to do.
She ate chocolate,
from the chocolate fondue.
She got in trouble, but that didn’t stop her,
to have kids, at 16,
and move out for her own good.
She raised them good,
but not good enough.
She’s old now, and my dad is too.
She used to play tag,
now she plays the lotto.
She used to like pink,
now she’s in the red rose spirit.
She was very fit,
now she barely gets
out of the house.
There was not much to do,
so she sat on a couch,
Not on her computer like now,
because there was no such thing…
On her phone?
Why no, it’s like the last line
There was not much tech,
But there was a TV,
only one channel,
but that’s OK.
She had brothers,
to play games,
in the nice, cold, rain.
Anthony J LS7 Age:10 Westmere School

Poetry Box May Challenge: Talking with our grandparents




TIP: If you are a keen young writer get a parent to follow my blog so you keep up to date with the challenges I post. Look down the sidebar.


Last week I posted a review of Encyclopedia of Grannies because I loved the book so much. It has inspired this month’s challenge.

Here is my favourite page from the book (thanks Gecko Press for letting me share it!).



Encyclopedia of Grannies spread 3.jpg


Thanks to GECKO PRESS one young poet will receive a copy of the book!



I invite you to write a poem after talking (in person, on the phone, by email or snail mail) to one of your grandparents, or an elder in your whanau, or an old person you know and care about.

Inside every old person is a little house and the child that used to be! That is like a poem!

Let’s go exploring and find out about the girl granny, the boy granddad, the child elder and the youngster old person. Let’s go exploring and find out what your granny loves to do right now. What is it like being old?


First: make a list of questions

Second: ask the questions

Third: use the answers to write a poem. Show me what surprised you. Show me how our treasured old people are rich in stories and wisdom. You might want to write a suite of little poems or one long poem.




Here are some starting points to help (I say granny but it can be any old person):


Does your granny have a nickname?

What can she remember about when she was little?

What does your granny like to do now?

What is it like being old?

What makes her happy?

What makes her sad?

What important question would you ask her?

What bit of wisdom can she share?

Does your granny have a saying?

Has your granny ever done some funny? Adventurous? Surprising?

What is the most adventurous thing she would love to do in a made-up poem or story where she can do ANYTHING!!

What is her favourite meal / food?

Where does she like to hang out?

What is her favourite animal?

What is the most fascinating place she has ever visited?

Find a copy of Encyclopedia of Grannies as it might give you inspiration like it did me.


Deadline: 26th May

Send to:

Please include: your name, age, year, name of school

Don’t forget to put OLD PEOPLE POEM in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

Open to Year 0 to Year 8 in Aotearoa.

I will write letters back at the end of the month.

I will have the book to give away thanks to Gecko Press.


Extra challenges for passionate young poets

Remember my blog is all about the joy of writing and reading poetry (it is never a competition!) – and setting you challenges! Here are some I am running in all year. Email me if you want to do one and want tips on what top do next. I will email you back asap!


Review a poetry book

Interview a NZ children’s author

Write a letter to a NZ children’s author

Write a letter to a poet from anywhere and any time ( I will give tips)

Show a cool class poetry exercise with poems you have done (from a child or from teacher and class)