Author Archives: Paula Green

Poetry Box noticeboard: Paula Green’s session for children at Christchurch’s WORD Literary Festival

I am very excited to be doing a poetry session for children in Christchurch on Sunday. I do hope you can come and say hello and join in the poetry fun!

See here for details. It is a FREE event but you can book!

I am very excited to be doing a poetry session for children in Christchurch on Sunday. I do hope you can come and say hello and join in the poetry fun!

Poetry is the best playground! Join Paula Green and play with what poems can do. She will read poems from her children’s books, talk about how she got to be a poet, and you will make up brand new poems together. You will use your ears and eyes and imaginations to make words soar and slide and pop. She will post the new poems on her blog Poetry Box and have at least one book to give away.

Poetry Box popUP challenge: my favourite colossal squid poem

Colossal Squid

An icy freezing cold home
Down in the deepest darkest depths of the Southern Ocean
The mighty red Colossal Squid
Gracefully glides through the sea like a ballerina

Denzel G, 9 years old, Year 4, Sandspit Road School

This week I posted a review of this fabulous book:

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep by Victoria Cleal, illustrated by Isobel Te Aho-White, Te Papa Press, 2020

I invited you to write a colossal squid poem to celebrate the arrival of the book and gave you 48 hours. Te Papa Press are kindly sending a copy of the book to the poet I picked.

Congratulations Denzel! I loved reading your poem which showed how a handful of words can create a captivating scene.

Check my blog next week as I may hide another popUP challenge with a cool giveaway.

My review of Whiti.

Poetry Box reviews: Ned Barraud’s ‘What Happened to the Moa?’ and ‘Where Is It?: A wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids’

Ned Barraud Where is It: A wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids Potter & Burton, 2020

Where Is It: A wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids gets you hunting in a range of Aotearoa New Zealand habitats. You might go to the beach, forest, rockpools, wetlands, the ocean, or estuary. On one side of the page is a habitat, on the other side, pictures of things you might discover. In the forest you can go looking for a wasp, a land snail, a velvet worm or a kererū (and more!). You really have to use you best hunting eyes to see how many things you can spot. At the back of the book there is information on all the things you go hunting for.

This is such a cool idea for a book. Sometimes when I go for a slow walk at Bethells Beach I see how many different things I can spot. Especially birds. Some are easy to see but are some are camouflaged on the sand, or high up on a cliff.

How many things can you spot on each page? How many things can you spot when you visit the beach or an estuary or a forest? How many things in the book have you seen? Have heard of?

Terrific illustrations, terrific idea – this book is an essential exploring guide.

Ned Barraud, What Happened to the Moa? Potter & Burton, 2020

If you are fascinated about moa then this book is a treasure trove of fascinating facts with realistic drawings to animate the prehistoric bird. Ned Barraud was inspired by the discovery of moa prints in a Central Otago riverbed in 2019. Geologists investigating the site thought the prints might be several million years old.

Here is a taste of fascinating facts: There were nine different species. DNA shows the closest relative is not the kiwi but the tinamou, a family of South American birds. I was fascinated by the drawings of the human standing next to the wing span of the Eyles’ Eagle (slightly bigger) and the wing span of Hasst’s eagle (way way way bigger). So yes, the moa was always in danger from the Haast’s eagle, the biggest bird of prey that ever lived. I was also in awe of the moa’s egg!

The book takes you on an informative journey, from the moa-filled settings to the possible last sighting in 1880 and its extinction. A fascinating book for the curious child.

Ned Barraud has been illustrating children’s books since 2000, after studying art at Victoria University. He has illustrated seven books in the highly successful Explore and Discover series of books about different ecosystems in New Zealand, and five other books on his own, including Watch out for the Weka, 2018’s acclaimed book on insects New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts and two further books in 2019, Tohorā and Rock Pools. He lives in Wellington with his wife and three children.

Potter & Burton Where Is It? page

Potter & Burton What happened to the Moa? page

Poetry Box review: Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep plus a 48- hour poem challenge

Victoria Cleal, illust. Isobel Te Aho-White Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep Te Papa Press 2020

Thanks to Te Papa Press I have a book to give to one child who tries my popUP challenge below.

Since her arrival in 2007, the colossal squid has been the most popular exhibit at Te Papa. Now there is a sparkling new book that shares Whiti’s story – and indeed the story of colossal squid and other sea creatures that live in Ross Sea’s biting cold in Antarctica.

This book takes us on a journey to Antarctica — you feel like you are there with your warm layers (it’s colder than your fridge), watching out for the animals that can live in this harsh place. BUT this is an underwater story. We need to dive down deep and discover the fascinating life below the ice.

I love the way pages unfold to give you a panoramic view of underwater life because the underwater world is utterly fascinating.

Look for the giant sea spiders that are not really spiders but have 8 legs and are the size of dinner plates!

Or the volcano sponges that are sometimes big enough to fit a diver inside.

Find out how a colossal squid egg is the size of an ant. The bulgy-eyed babies feed off plankton, but penguins and other creatures like to eat the babies! These tricky squid babies are hard to spot as they are virtually see through and they (maybe) squirt out black ink to muddle the predator.

Find out how the adult squid travels and lives in the deep deep dark dark water with her eyes growing like headlights (bioluminescence).

The writing is FABULOUS.

The illustrations are CAPTIVATING.

The book is a fact finder’s DELIGHT!

I love the way similes help you get a COLOSSAL SQUID picture: ‘Whiti gobbles the toothfish the way you’d eat a corncob.’ GENIUS!

Or the fact Whiti’s brain is shaped like a doughnut!

Or the fact colossal squid get redder as they get older: ‘Red stands out in our light-filled world – think of pōhutukawa flowers. But red light can’t reach far down in wai. Red animals in the deep just look black, like the wai around them.’

You will also get to track other sea creatures: the slow-paced, long-living toothfish, the precious parāoa sperm whales with their wide hungry jaws, the bendy-boned snailfish, the wheke octopus / dumbo octopus.

This is an important book because Antarctica is an important place: ‘Aotearoa New Zealand and many other countries have agreed to be the kaitiaki guardians of the Antarctica and keeps its mauri strong. New Zealand helped make a big part of the Ross Sea a marine protected area. It’s now a safe place in the moana for plants and animals.’

I love the way Victoria uses te reo Māori as she tells the story of Whiti.

The book also shows us we can keep an eye out for ngū squid and wheke octopus in rock pools on our coastlines.

What a magnificent resource this book is. Get a copy for your shelf and then give a copy to a curious child.

POP-UP challenge: I will give one copy of the book to a child that sends me a colossal squid poem with one curious fact in it. You have 48 HOURS!

Deadline: Friday 22nd October at noon

email: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

include: name, age, year, name of school

don’t forget to put SQUID POEM in subject line so I don’t miss it.

Poetry Box Review: Issa Watanabe’s ‘Migrants’

Issa Watanabe Migrants Gecko Press 2020 (originally published 2019 by Libros del Zorro Rojo)

I need a trinket box on my desk of superlative words, of gleaming things, to use when I read a book that is as luminous and awe-inspiring as our Milky Way. Some books are so special you just want to whisper to the universe:

read this book, read this book, read this book read this book, read this book

Trinkets is a silent picture book, a picture book without words, yet it is paradoxically brimming with words and feeling. A solar system of words grow in your head as you follow the glorious illustrations, as you let the narrative soak into your heart and mind, and the book sings sings sings, a story of sadness, pain and obstacles, along with kindness and mutual help. This is a story of our wounded world.

read this book, read this book, read this book read this book, read this book

Tinkets tells the story of animals banished from the land they love, coming together in a community huddle with few belongings, setting up camp in the dark forest, trying to make a home, but then again they are kicked out, moved on, because some other animal thinks they don’t belong. They flee. Terrified. They flee into the terrifying unknown. They cross the scary ocean crammed into a boat that capsizes. They are washed ashore and keep on, and they keep on holding tight to an idea of home. They move towards the tree in pink-petalled blossom. They move towards HOPE.

This is our human world. This is happening. This book is inviting me to welcome difference. To open arms to our migrant arrivals, to our refugee arrivals, and make them feel so very welcome.

read this book, read this book, read this book read this book, read this book

The illustrations are breathtaking. You feel them to the core. Each character is lovingly brought to life. You feel the story of a group of migrants to the core. There is heartbreak and there is hope.

Migrants is an important book and is so very special. It gathers words and it is beyond words.

‘I wanted to show the contrast between life and the sadness and difficulty of the journey. Colour expresses hope. Darkness is more like silence. But more than anything, I wanted each character to have their own identity defined by each detail: the care I gave to clothes, the choice of colours, and the characters’ expressions. The first thing that happens with migrants is that they are turned into numbers, or morph into a faceless human mass, which we cannot identify with.’ Issa Watanabe

Issa Watanabe was born in Peru in 1980, the daughter of an illustrator and a poet. She studied Literature and Fine Arts and Illustration and is the author and illustrator of a number of books.

Gecko Press author page

Gecko Press Q & A with Issa

Poetry Box September challenge: some favourite nature-activity poems

The Nature Activity Book: 99 Ideas for Activity in the Natural World of Aotearoa New Zealand Rachel Haydon, illustrated Pippa Keel, Te Papa Press, 2020

This stunning activity book inspired me to set a number of nature poetry challenges for you last month. I invited you to take your time writing a poem and to explore nature. I invited you to listen and look, but also gave you a chance to use your imagination.

I got sent hundreds of poems so it has taken me a long time to reply to you all, and it was an exceptionally hard job choosing just a few to post here. I loved reading your poems and I can tell you loved writing them.

I especially loved the way you went outside and you listened and looked. What a terrific time the students at Russley School, Nova Montessori School and Churton Park School had slowing down in the world to look and listen.

I loved the way some words stayed with me all day: my favourite word ‘frizzle’ in Myla‘s poem. I loved the detail William found for his beast. I loved the way Phoebe structured her cloud poem. I loved the way Esme ended her poem with a pencil scribbling!

Sometimes I loved a poem but it needed a bit of fact checking – when you make up a beast you can let your imagination go flying, but other nature poems might need a bit of research.

I have picked these young poets to send a copy of the book to – thanks to the publisher Te Papa Press: Fēlim (Nova Montesorri School), Blake (Russley School), Luke and Kate (Churton Park School) and Sophia (Westmere School).

I loved all the poems so much – I am always sad that I can’t post them all because you made my heart glow reading them. What fabulous young writers you are!

It took me so long to do this, and you are still on holiday, so I am going to post my next poetry challenge on November 1st – and I am very EXCITED about it! I will have books to give away. But between now and then I will post book reviews and might have secret popUP challenges with giveaway books.

I ended this post with a fabulous poem by Daniel – who reminded me to stop and look at things I so often miss (as lots of these poems do.

Happy poem days!

The Poems

Grassy

When I hold grass

It makes my hand tingle.

A piece of sand is littler

Than a grain of rice.

A blade of grass is so small it reminds me of a stick insect.

Fēlim R, Age 9, Year 5, Nova Montessori School

Dallion

The eight legged dallion, with a body as grey as rain clouds,
And fur as scruffed up as leaves on a tree,
And teeth as sharp as a knife,
And ears as round as semicircles,
Trampling through the forest.

His paws shaking the ground,
Leaves fluttering down as fast as heavy rain.
The beast mimicking it’s prey.

Max D, 7 years old, Year 3 Ilam School

Wind

I am the wind

I can blow your sandcastle down

I make the flag slither

like a snake

I can get your kite stuck

in a tree

I can make your hair go crazy

I can flip the pages of your book

I make sailboats bolt across the sea

In autumn, I make leaf tornadoes

I sound like a stampede of elephants

I also sound like the waves

at the beach

I am a brachiosaurus burp

I am a peregrine falcon diving

but I can also be gentle

like a mouse

by Blake W | Year 3 | age 7 yrs, Russley School

Little Things

I see all the twigs and stones blow around in the wind.
The twigs all have a similar shape and pattern on them.
When I pick up the stick I can feel the rust on the outside.
I see an ant walk over veins that are in the ground with dust blowing on it.
The color of the veins are brown with a little bit of orange in the inside.
I see the grass go everywhere in random directions on the ground.
When I pick up a piece of grass I feel the softness on the outside.
The color of the grass is bright green with a shadow.

Luke, Room 2, Churton Park School

Ginko walk

The airplane rumbles in the distance

like a teenager crunching into piles of pringles

Grass sways in the wind

like an old man waving at his best friend

Silky clouds reflect off my shirt

like big blobs of paint beaming at me

Dead tickley shade leaves sunbathe

under the burning hot sun

By Sam L | age 8 | Year 4, Russley School

Ginko

Twig  nest crumbling

Greenfinch with ivory beak

Soaring through the sky

Lonely gray stone not moving an inch

What is that yellow flower?

Fingertips skimming over the hopscotch

Tahi

Rua

Toru

A white candyfloss palace

and whipped cream

floating round the sky

Whā Rima

Ono

Whitu Waru

I listen to the Beach Boys booming from the hall

this is the best place ever

James DW, Y4, Russley School

extreme ginko walk

rough white bricks on room 10

staying still like a statue in a museum

birds chirping like mad scientists

planning world domination

small brown twig 

tiny as a chopped grass root

puffy clouds swishing, swaying,

moulding into indomitable dragons, chunky pigs,

silvery elephants prancing like circus pachyderms

Anabelle K, age 8, Russley School

Sounds of the World

I sit outside

The wind tickling the hair on my cheek

A big truck rumbles by

Interrupting the honk-honk of birds

The wind rises again

The flax goes clickety-clack

The soft sound of the green leaves rubbing

That’s what I hear when I sit outside

Mieke N, Age 9, Y5, Nova Montessori School

I Wonder Why

In front of the library filled with books

mysteries and adventures

a warning

COVID-19 poster

the bare oak tree stretches its branches to reach the sky

soft breeze cools me down

a flock of house sparrows chirp gracefully 

delicate flowers shine in the sun

and I wonder

why the sky

is such a very bright blue?

Mostafa E, age 9, Y5, Russley School

Scribbles

Wind so shivering cold

I pull down my sleeves

until they cover my hands

The NZ flag flies awkwardly

grasps the pole like a sail on a boat

A small rock in my shoe

pokes my foot hurting my heel

A  fabulous fragile yellow nemesia

drops its petals

My red, sharp WARWICK pencil scribbles

adjectives and verbs

Esme S, age 10, Y5, Russley School

Tiny Things

Little seeds they fall from plants
Ready to start their plant life
Daffodils sprouting to see the mother Sun
Dance and play with their twins
Blades of grass like the feathers of a duck
Let out the fresh air we breath

Mia M, aged 9, Fendalton Open Air School

Sounds of Spring

The bees sound hot, like the hot ground
as they quiver and buzz like rice bubbles popping.
The cat sounds like a motorbike, a car, an engine
and my dog snoring.
The sparrows sound like people chattering, squawking,
tweeting and beeping.
The thunder sounds like sea in a shell, a giant stomping, a bomb exploding,
waves crashing and drums drumming.
The tūī sounds like a fart, a burp, a hiccup and a frog!

By Charlie P., Theo L-C, Harry P, Charlotte B and Seb S all aged 5 from Westmere School

Clouds

The clouds move on with every breeze
Making different shapes and sizes

There’s a rabbit
and this one’s a dinosaur, no wait,
it’s a unicorn

When the clouds merge together and the rain pours down
I think of a grayish white dome covering the bright blue sky up

And after it clears and the sun comes out
Little white fluffy clouds start to form something big
Maybe it’ll be a marshmallow shaped cloud with a ring around it
Or a flying tiger

With clouds you can think of anything

Kate, age 10, Churton Park School

Peace

I can hear the rough wind traveling through the delicate leaves
But I’m distracted by the big truck beeping, reversing into the building site
But I am put to calm again by the chirping of birds flying through the brown branches on the tree
But I am annoyingly disturbed once again by the footsteps of running children running back to class after having a lot of fun
So overall you can’t have been at peace for more than two minutes.

Alex, age 11, Churton Park School

In the clouds…

Elephants, lions, meerkats
Drifting past
Bossed by the wind

Cumulus Elephants
Chased by the wind
Blowing them back home

Stratus Lions
Disappearing with the wind
Prowling through the sky

Cumulonimbus Meerkats
Following the wind
Finding their babies

Phoebe, age 12, Selwyn House School

Patterns in Nature – Honeycomb

The yellow hexagon pattern
like honeycomb
Hidden away
In protecting plants
I listen for buzzing bees
But all I can hear is the loud rustle
Of the strong wind yelling
With force
At the poor, green trees

Genevye, age 9, Y6, Churton Park School

Garden Gazing

As I walk through my garden
I see all the obvious things
Like clouds and flowers and my brother loudly whining
But there is one thing I notice
As my bare feet walked across the grass
The mini, skimpy ants
Scoot across the fence
How do these little wonders live
In a world that might be too big for them?

Ahana, 11 years, Churton Park School

Midnight

Sticks lie everywhere
Their bark as strong as metal
Water sits, waiting, waiting, waiting
Waiting for the wind
Breeze washes the water,
Turning it like yeast
The water changes from
Murky to
Clean as air

Ivy, age 7, Ilam Primary School

Patterns

Sunny day
colourful patterns
slice open the sky

Rainy day
dazzling patterns
dance across icy puddles

At the beach
Gulls’ shadows fold a pattern
down the cliff face

In my garden
a snail leaves a wavy pattern
on the concrete

By the pool
clouds make footsteps
across the sky

From the plane
tiny houses create patterns
to make a maze

Saskia F, 9 years old, Year 4, St Andrews College

Crystal

Cracking on the sand with shiny edges
Racing off the cliff like an acrobat
You can find them on the beach
Smooth as a rock and shiny as a star
Tapping on the sand a bit like a rock
Along with other crystals in a bunch
Lonely on beaches where it’s supposed to be.

by Samuel B aged 7 Westmere School

Cezous


Standing on mossy grey rock
surrounded by dark murky
water the dark green scales
of a Cezous is hardly visible.
A long snake, like tail
ending in a
poison barb
is poised in the air.
The only light comes
from the moon shining
through the low fog.
Two blank white eyes
stare into the distance
watching
for a glimmer of life.

Tim, Age:10, Fendalton Open Air

The Sound of the Whistling Wind

The meadow has the sound of the whistling wind,
with the trees swaying.
It’s like a clock twisting on its first hour,
The wind then sitting on a shooting star,
Cracking apart.

Libby, age 7, Y3, Ilam School

Song of clouds

Puffed up like pastry,
Fluffy as whipped cream,
The candyfloss of the sky.

Sugary sweet
But not something to eat
The Earth’s fluffy white scarf

White, shining
Calming and luscious
Are clouds.

Paige L, 10 yrs old, Fendalton Open-air School

Nature

Wind soaring, whipping and splashing,
screeching and whistling, twirling
around the branches of a wild, wishing tree.
Tūī squawking and roaring, desperate to make a nest.
Swirls drop into rushing water
running in the breeze.
Terrific tūī talk while
BANG!
A tree smashes down into the river
causing sparrows to fly onto rough stones.
The sparrows squeak and squawk
when suddenly rain starts to splatter down,
lightning frizzles down onto the wooden, wacky
and watery trees, and thunder zips
and zooms through the dark and gloomy sky.
Soon stars shine in the shimmering sky
making crickets turn and turn.

Myla F age: 7 LS6 Westmere School

The Beast

The beast I saw
has a deep dark
voice that goes
ROAR!
He has squiggly lines
and little dots
on his back.
He is also greedy
and sometimes eat clouds.
He has a beak like a bird
as big as an oven.
He is so greedy
as greedy as
greedy cat.
I was once sleeping
when I woke up
my right hand was gone.
I knew that the beast
ate it.
He lives in a desert
as dry as 10,000
deserts
and grass as
cold as ice.

William, age 9, St Andrews School

The Rain

Wailing wind
BOOM! SPLAT! BANG!
High pitched squeaks
echoing from the pūkeko in the rain.
CHERP CHERP CHERP
goes the fantail in the rain.
PZZZZZ FLICK FLACK CLICK CLACK
goes the cicada in the rain.
WARBLING
kiwi in the rain.
SWIP SWAP SWIP SWAP
goes the black swan in the rain
Wailing wind

Lola H age 8 LS6 Westmere School

The Beast

Its sharp twisted horns sliced the air,
Its dark hooded eyes endlessly stare,
Its mud-tipped white fur rippled in the wind,
An icy aura billowed from its skin,
Scaled talons ripped the trees,
As it landed with practiced ease,
Its feathered wings whipped through clouds,
Everything that surrounds,
Really does not want to meet,
This furry,
Feathery,
Scaly,
Beast.

Samantha P, Yr 8, Tai Tapu School

Water!

Crashing water
Calling water
Dripping water
Shouting water
Silly water
Small water
Giant water
Shaped water
Smelly water
Falling water
Fast water
Slow water
Flying water
Walking water
Jogging water
Running water
Ice water
Solid water
Hot water
Cold water
Gas water
Sea water
Salty water
WATER!

Noah XB age 7 LS6 Westmere School

Nature

Shhhhhhh Listen to Nature!

Burrrrrrrrrp croaked the tuis proudly.

Brrrrrrrrrr drummed the bees, shaking their booties.

Bzzzzzzzz tickled the cicadas, rattling their thorax.

Cheep, chip, cheep, chip, chattered the sparrows.

Bash! Mash! Crash! Smash! Exploded the thunder.

Trish’s Year 1 class (5 and 6 years old) at Richmond Rd School

Crash! Boom!
Lightning struck
And rain poured.
The noise was terrifying
And thunderous.
It was as loud as elephants STOMPING
It was as loud as a lion’s ROAR
It was as loud as an eagle’s SCREAM
It was as loud as a wolf HOWLING!

Tekaia R Age 8 LS6 and Harry D Age 7 LS6 Westmere School

The Visitor

There is a mysterious trail
curving its way,
exploring LS3.
It crept around the chairs,
winding almost up to the big books basket!
It’s all jiggly and blobby
and the snail or slug,
slithered around
creating a silky net of mucous
on the scratchy carpet,
inching its way up to the bench,
and winding its way back.

Sophia L age 7 in LS3 Westmere School

The Only Amber Dragon


There was once an amber dragon
She lives in a dungeon
She eats meat during the day and during the night she sleeps and hunts for food.
Her eyes are dark as midnight.
If you see her, you’ll get a fright!
Her scales are hard as rock and bright as the sun.

Olivia, age 9, French unit, Richmond Rd School

Zapricorn

He has pointy teeth,
turned up toes
And a big pointy horn behind his nose.

He lives in a hole under a tree
All in the dark with nothing to see.

Awake at night,
asleep at day
All in waiting to find his prey.

Tallulah K, age 9, Richmond Road School, L’Archipel

Sounds Of Autumn

Warm blasts of foreign air
Carrying the scent of fresh fruit.
Dust flying
Leaves shuffling
Bushes rustling
Action everywhere.
Puddles swish
Muddy mush
The wind’s gush
Just look.

Ameer, age 9, Y5, Ilam School

Small things

Small things we don’t notice,
In the garden, in the house, in the library,
Seeds as small as ants in the garden,
Dust in the house,
Spider webs like thread in the library.
Small things we don’t notice,
In the grass, in the bed, in the classroom,
Shiny as diamonds are bugs in the grass,
Hair on the bed,
Yummy as chocolate are crumbs in the classroom.
Small things we don’t notice,
We should notice them.

Mia W, Age: 8 Year 5 Fendalton School

Sounds

Birds are singing.

Insects are chirping.

Telling me their song.

The wind is whispering.

Telling me stories from long ago.

My sister is laughing.

Telling me everything’s okay.

Mia C, Age: 10, College Street Normal School

Perfect Pebble

In a mystery of boulders

Sits a tiny pebble

Hidden in the shadows

Of towering rocks

Desperate to be noticed

Perfectly round

Slivers of shimmer

Bright grey

Contrasting the immense greystone

I wonder if that pebble will grow

Daniel L Year 7, Age 12 Hadlow School

Poetry Box Nature Activity poem update

Our cats are sleeping! In minute they will wake up hungry for dinner. I have spent the last two days reading and replying to all your wonderful poems from dawn until dusk. It has been a solar system of a job with so many bright shiny poems that have filled me with awe and delight. But as much as I wanted to post some favourites today I am going to curl up like our cats and go to sleep. The words are swimming and you will have to wait until Monday to see the poems. I am feeling a big bit sad to have got so many magnificent poems knowing that I just can’t post them all.

I can tell you love writing – it shows – and I do hope you try another challenge on Poetry Box. I will be telling you about some fabulous children’s books in October and might have at least one popUP secret poem challenge with giveaway books – but my next big challenge will appear on 1st November!

Poetry Box review: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An animal poem for every day of the year

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! An animal poem for every day of the year, selected by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup, Nosy Crow, 2020

This is one of the most sumptuous poetry anthologies to arrive in my letter box. When I got an invitation to include my tūī poem in a book of animal poems for children published in the UK, I said yes immediately. I had no idea what the book would be like, who would be in it, but I loved the idea of tūī singing their hearts out on the other side of the world. Plus I was an editing a children’s anthology of animal poems to be published in Aotearoa next year.

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright! is a substantial work of art: lovingly produced, lovingly edited, lovingly illustrated. When I held the gorgeous book in my hands, I was so very moved knowing I had a poem inside, along with a couple of other New Zealanders. The illustration for my tūī poem is magnificent:

You will find a year of poems from poetry luminaries such as Michael Rosen, Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, William Blake, Dick King-Smith, Ted Hughes, Grace Nichols, Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Spike Milligan, Adrian Mitchell, Jack Prelutsky, Masaoka Shiki, Valerie Worth, Matsuo Bashō along with Ruth Dallas, Patricia Grace and Margaret Mahy. There wasn’t room in a book of this size, but I would love to know where all the poets come from, so many poets unfamiliar to me, to know the book’s global reach.

I have other anthologies that offer a poem a day for a year, but I am really keen to read a poem a day from Tiger, Tiger in 2021. The book offers wild animals, domestic animals, poems that purr and howl, and poems that creep and leap. There are poems to eat in one bite and poems to savour slowly. I was especially delighted to see three Valerie Worth poems here. She has written utterly magical poetry books for children – the sort of poems that make you gasp with delight. And to discover a poem by Margaret Mahy, whose word agility and imaginative stretches made the very best poetry for children. One of the best ever poems by Margaret was selected:

Poetry does many things. It makes you laugh and sing, wriggle and jiggle, puzzle and ponder. Poetry can connect us with all kinds of experiences, people and places, and can lead us outside the world we know. It can be of the greatest comfort, but it can also challenge us, get us thinking and feeling. So to have such a magnificent animal anthology arrive in the world is a precious gift. One poem that really caught in my throat was ‘The Doves of Damascus’ by Ftoun Abou Kerech. The poet is trying to remember the country they have lost, settling upon a memory of doves and how they scattered. Some poems are like little jewels such as Gaki’s ‘Little Frog’. Three lines that evoke such a luminous frog image. It is a poetry treasure trove – so much joy to be had dipping and diving until I start my year of reading on January 1st 2021.

I was also delighted to see Patricia Grace’s poem in both English and te reo Māori:

How I love this book.

Tiger, Tiger is a celebration of what words can do, and how important it is to share what words can do with children. Thank you Fiona, Britta and Nosy Crow for bringing this beautiful book into the world.

Fiona Waters was born in Edinburgh and has always loved reading. At the age of seven she fell in love with poetry when she heard Gabriel Woolf reading ‘The Lady of Shalott’ on the radio. Fiona has been a bookseller, publisher, author, reviewer and most recently the Editorial Director of Troubadour, choosing the books for book fairs in schools. Now retired, she has travelled to ‘all the fairytale places she dreamt of as a child, like Russia and Japan, reading even more books with her two cats and still very much enjoying compiling anthologies’.

Britta Teckentrup grew up in Wuppertal in Germany. In 1988, she moved to London to study illustration and fine art at St Martin’s College and the Royal College of Art, and stayed in England for 17 years. She has created over 30 books, translated into 20 different languages. Her illustrations have also appeared in magazines, on homewares, clothes and packaging. Britta now lives and works in Berlin with her artist husband, young son, Vincent, and their cat.

Nosy Crow page where you can watch a cool trailer

Allen & Unwin page (NZ distributor)

Poetry Box review: My Little Book of Bugs: Taku pukapuka iti mō ngā pepeke

My Little Book of Bugs Taku pukapuka iti mō ngā pepeke Te Papa Press 2020

Editors:

Julia Kasper is Curator Terrestial Invertebrates at Te Papa

Phil Sirvid is Entomology Manager at Te Papa

Photographer:

Jean-Claude Stahl is an imaging specialist at Te Papa known for his detailed photographs of the natural world.

My little Book of Bugs Taku pukapuka iti mō ngā pepeke is a small hardback book designed for children from 18 months to 3 years. Each page features an astonishing photograph of a bug with a sentence in English and in te reo Māori. You get one fascinating fact but you also get photographs that are visual discovery channels.

You discover bees collect pollen with their hair and then when you look at the photograph you can track where the hair is. Such a contrast from the soft hair to the fragile patterned wings and the black sheeny back. I have been sitting looking at this photograph of a bee pī for ages.

The other joy is you get to read the fascinating fact in both English and te reo Māori. These three discovery joys (the fascinating fact, the astonishing photos and presence of te reo Māori) open the book to a wider range of readers. I challenge older children to look at the photograph and produce a poem or piece of writing, or their own artwork.

I loved the simple sentences: I never knew beetles hid their wings under their ‘strong armour’!

I find children’s books are a brilliant aid as I learn te reo Māori – so this book is also a very cool language aid no matter how old you are.

What a treat of a bug book – Taku pukapuka iti mō ngā pepeke. The bugs in the little book can be found in Te Papa’s collection, but this book is a fabulous way to get discovering when you can’t manage a museum visit. The next time I am in Wellington Te Whanganui-a-Tara I will be checking out Te Papa’s bug section. In the meantime I am loving my bug discovering.

Te Papa Press page

Poetry Box review: Elspeth Alix Batt’s I Love Bugs

I Love Bugs Elspeth Alix Batt, One-Tree House, 2020

Elspeth Alix Batt has been an illustrator and artist for over forty years. Her illustrations have appeared in School Journals, Ready to Read books, on cards, flags, book covers, school banners, books of many genres. I love Bugs is the first book Elspeth has written and illustrated.

Elspeth’s exquisite illustrations take you into the ‘wriggly jiggly’ ‘spiny shiny’ world of bugs. Each page glows with such colour and detail you feel like you are in the scene. The insects are magnificent.

The writing is equally captivating. It is like a poem pattern. A scrumptious list poem. And it is an excellent poem to read aloud because it sounds magnificent. I find some rhyming children’s books clunky and unappetising, but Elspeth knows how to make words sing and connect like music. Sometimes surprising. Sometimes making me wriggle and jiggle.

Yes there is a surprising and PERFECT ending!

Yes there is an excellent bug-information page at the back.

Yes this book is a rip-wriggling, tingly-tickly, bug-catching SUCCESS!

I love it.

One-Tree House page