Kia Kaha: A storybook of Māori who changed the world, Stacey Morrison & Jeremy Sherlock, Penguin, 2021
E huri tō aroaro ki te rā, tukuna tō ataarangi ki muri i a koe
Turn to face the sun and let your shadow fall behind you
(Georgina Beyer page)
Kia Kaha: A storybook of Māori who changed the world is my favourite children’s book of 2021. It is groundbreaking, ground restoring, remarkable in its reach and empathy. Stacey Morrison and Jeremy Sherlock have gathered together Māori who deserve recognition and celebration (they acknowledge there are so many more they wanted to include). Stacey and Jeremy share the stories in a lovingly produced book that is like a meeting place, a heart lounge, a conversation map.
The book includes Māori who have excelled on the sports fields and courts, those who have worked hard to make the world a better place by fighting for the rights of Māori, of the Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ communities. Those who have done amazing things in law, health, politics, education, the promotion of te reo Māori. Those who work hard in film, the arts, music, comedy, literature. Those who are activists. There are navigators, entrepreneurs, fashion designers. There are teams of people (the Māori All Blacks, the 28th Māori Battalion, the Māori Women’s Welfare League) and there are numerous individuals (Dame Whina Cooper, Dame Tariana Turia, Stan Walker, Patricia Grace, Taika Waititi, Ralph Hotere).
It was a genius idea to select twelve illustrators: Akoni Pakinga-Stirling (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Tahu), Haylee Ngāroma Solomon (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi), Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu), Jessica Kathleen Thompson Carr aka Māori Mermaid (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine, Ngāpuhi, Pākehā), Josh Morgan (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata), Kurawaka Productions, Miriama Grace-Smith (Ngāti Hau, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Toarangatira and Ngāto Porou), Ngaumutane Jones aka Ms Meemo (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu, Tainui, Ngāi Tūhoe, Whakatōhea), Reweti Arapere (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), Taupuruariki Whakataka-Brightwell (Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa, Te Arawa), Xoë Hall (Kai Tahu), and Zak Waipara (Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruapani). The artwork is dynamic, fresh, full of life. Glorious.
As I read each story I feel like I am sitting beside the editors on a warm rug (I have never met them) but it is though they are speaking to me, to all of us readers, and we are listening spellbound. Each story flows like honey, like everyday conversation. Glorious.
I also love the sayings that head each story. Little pieces of wisdom that catch important things about each person.
I see this magnificent and important book, this gift, this taonga, as a waka that sets sail into the future with song and recognition, ideas and heart, mahi and aroha. This is my favourite children’s book of 2021, no question.
E kitea ai ngā taonga o te moana me mākū koe
To see the gifts of the ocean, you must get wet
(Sir Hekenukumai Busby page)
Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu) is a radio and TV broadcaster whose projects have spanned 25 years. She is also a mama to three young tamariki who have been brought up with te reo Māori as their mother tongue. Stacey herself didn’t learn to speak Maori until she was an adult. It required a lot of research, determination, wonderful mentors and the support of a community to achieve her goal of becoming fluent by the time her children were born. Stacey and her husband Scotty co-wrote Māori at Home to help other families use te reo in everyday settings, and Stacey’s first children’s book, My First Words in Māori, became a number-one bestseller. Both Stacey and Scotty work with many groups and families to build Māori-language friendships and community for whanau. Stacey has also been an advisor on pre-schooler and children’s TV shows, which, along with her experiences with her own children, has helped her identify the words children pick up early in their language learning. As a winner of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Champion Award in 2016, and the winner of Waipunarangi – Te Reo and Tikanga Award 2021, as well as a graduate of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo (the Institute of Excellence in Māori Language), Stacey loves encouraging the learning and use of our country’s beautiful native language.
Jeremy Sherlock (Tainui, Ngāti Awa) was born and raised in the small town of Coromandel. Growing up, he loved sport, music and drawing and was always a bit of a bookworm. At the time, there wasn’t much of a selection of books written about and for Māori, but his grandfather’s tall stories, family histories, and Peter Gossage’s picture books about the myths of Aotearoa made a big and lasting impression. A couple of decades later, he joined the publishing industry as an editor of non-fiction. Over the years, Jeremy has worked in New Zealand and Australia for Reed, Penguin and Penguin Random House, specialising in biography and memoir, sports, history, pop culture and all things Māoritanga. He currently lives and works in Tamaki Makaurau as a freelance publishing consultant and writer. Kia Kaha, a collaboration with Stacey Morrison, is his first book.
I loved all the poems. I could tell the poets had fun writing them because I had fun reading them. And they are all different just as poems should be! Glorious.
I am sending a copies of Jo’s book to Isabelle and Maelie (Richmond Road School).
M – Maned Wolf
Mika the Maned Wolf has a fluffy red coat, She eats fruits, leaves, and rodents – like stoats. Her legs are so long! Her legs are so tall! And no one would dare fight her, no one at all.
Penelope Age: 10, Richmond Road School
C is for cat
A cat and a bat have the same last letters, A and T but a bat has a B and a cat has a C. A cat has claws and very small paws And is related to something that roars!
Isabelle and Maelie, age 9 and 10, Richmond Road School
C is for Centipede
A centipede is really long. A centipede is never gone. They have 45 legs… Some say 110, Or their name is Ben Do they have lice? Do they eat mice? Do they burp? Do they lurk? We’re not quite sure… They live in the dirt Of that we’re sure
Isabelle and Maelie, age 9 and 10, Richmond Road School
The Rockhopper Penguin
There once was a Rockhopper Penguin Who always jumped around talking Wishing he could glide He loved to sing with pride “I wish that I could fly Across the great blue sky I guess I can try and thrive Yet I would fall, then dive Into the ocean, wide and vast Where I could swim, at last”. So from then on he knew His dreams could still come true If he thought about the ocean and all He’d dive into it, and heed its call.
Ava, age 9, Pakuranga Heights School
B Is For Bob The Blobfish
Bob the blobfish lived deep in the sea, Where no one could see. He bounced up and down with a frown, Living life with a starfish crown. Bob’s crown went running around, Shouting out loud………. Help me, Help me, I don’t want to be his crown. Then a crowd of fish that were very proud, Came around fighting for the starfish crown. But then……… Ms Blobfish came slopping around and snorted out loud…. Leave my BOBBY, BLOBBY, SLOPPY, MACARONI… SON’S CROWN ALONE!! All the proud fish, That were proud before Went swimming away. Hip! Hip! Hooray! Thank you blobby mummy! Oh, no worries honey. And Bob the blobfish, With his crown, the starfish, Went bouncing away.
Coco, Y6, Richmond Road School
A black figure crept through the night like a dense 3D shadow, The tree branch creaked as the stealth master slid below, As the full moon’s light beamed through the dark, silent jungle, A colossal cat slunk past the burrows making the animals huddle, The blanket of darkness had already cloaked the green land that lies beneath, Making animals vulnerable prey to the meat eaters that lurk in the shadows, Black figure creeping, tree branch creaking, colossal cat slunk, Meat-eaters lurking, a predatory animal, the panther of black.
Holly, age 10, Westmere School
A prey to hunters and an enemy of fish, But overall salmon is their favorite dish. A black fur coat and a defining growl, Ursus americanus is back on the prowl. A predatory animal with quite an appetite, And a jaw so strong that he doesn’t need to fight. He attacks and wins with a delicious meal, Surviving an encounter with a black bear… Now that would be a big deal.
Holly, age 10, Westmere School
As blackness enclosed over the land one figure emerged from his home. The only noise was the rustle of leaves as a cool breeze forced its way into the forest. Pit, pat, pit, pat. The figure saw something in the corner of his eye. He pressed himself against the wet, dense forest floor. It came closer and closer. The moonlight slipped between the gaps in the trees above, lighting up the clearing. Rustle, rustle. The animal was so close he could almost smell it. As he crept forward, the smell got stronger and stronger. Then he pounced. The terrified animal tried to escape but two paws grabbed her and sharp claws dug into her skin. There she was, helpless before this mysterious animal. The predator finished its meal and crept away into the silent and eerie forest after a good night’s hunt. But first a quick stop to howl at the moon before bed.
What Colour is the Sky? Laura Shallcrass, Beatnik Publishing, 2021
I am a big fan of Laura Shallcrass books and a big fan of the sky. I sit at my kitchen table daydreaming as I gaze out the wide open doors to the wide open sky. It makes me feel good to sky gaze just as it makes me feel good to read a new picture book by Laura.
Pīhoihoi wonders what colour the sky is. Pīhoihoi has a sky puzzle to solve. How would you answer the question?
Pīhoihoi asks Hedgehog but that just makes it even more confusing. So they decide to go on a big QUEST to solve the mystery. They ask snail and they ask mouse and they ask frog. And on the quest goes. A seed of an idea starts to grow in Pīhoihoi’s head and it grows into a GENIUS answer!
I love the simplicity of the story and how musing and questing is such a good thing, especially about something tricky. I love the tremendously BEAUTIFUL illustrations. Works of art! I love the learning notes at the end that tell you more about why animals see things differently. Fascinating.
This book is sublime SKY treasure! Beatnik Publishing have put their usual love and care into the making of the book and produced something special.
Laura Shallcrass works from her home in the hills near Queenstown, where she lives with her husband and children, along with an ever-growing zoo of furry friends. So far these include three horses: Giddy, who is enormous but kind, Taffy the pony, and Cash, who is overexcited and likes to party, Kota, the Labrador, and Frida, the whippet.
Laura’s first book, Hare & Ruru, won the Russell Clark Award for Best Illustrated Book at the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
What Do You Need Little Rhino?, John J Lewis, Upstart Press, 2021
John J Lewis is a stop motion animator, writer and director who lives in Christchurch. What Do You Need Little Rhino? is his first picture book and it is one of the best picture books about feelings EVER! My all time FAVOURITE.
John got the idea when his daughter Harriet had a tantrum. He had no idea why she was angry. He discovered that when he gently asked her ‘What do you need little rhino?’ the situation was diffused. So he used this technique as the starting point for a story about a little rhino who is stamping mad. The rhino’s mum and dad keep trying to find out what she needs but the little rhino just doesn’t know. I know the feeling. Sometimes the pile of tantrum or angry or upsetness is so hard to explain. To ask what I need is a cunning and useful diversion. Genius. And I love the ending. So perfect.
John has used real art materials such as watercolours for the oh-so-pink illustrations, and they are simple and rich in feeling – especially the ink splots and splashes. Harriet (now 8) handwrote the dialogue text and deliberately mixed up capital letters and lower case. She also came up with the idea for the end and title pages. Beautiful.
Every home deserves a copy of this book – no matter how old you are. And we might all sometimes need someone nearby saying ever so gently – ‘What do you need little rhino?’ GLORIOUS!
John Lewis is a stop motion animator, writer, and director. He is best known as an animator on the feature film Mary and Max, the TV series Kiri & Lou, and the short film The Story of Percival Pilts which he also co-wrote and co-directed. John lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he spends his days playing with plasticine dinosaurs, riding an electric unicycle, rock climbing, and being a father.
T Is for Tuatara: Amazing animals from A to Z, Jo van Dam, illust. by Deborah Hinde, PictureBook Publishing, 2021
So few poetry books for children get published in Aotearoa! The arrival of a new one is a celebration day for me. Jo Van Dam’s previous book, Doggy Ditties from A to Z, gained many fans. Her new book assembles a collection of ditties that give life to “weird and wonderful creatures”. The animals include some I am not familiar with (from dugongs, to zebu to numbats) and some I am (from the kiwi, to rhinoceros, to skunks). Each page has fascinating facts as well as the poem. The exquisite illustrations add further layers of fascination.
At the back of the book are extra facts about the creatures, quiz questions and tips for writing poems. Jo’s poems brim with fun and beg to be read aloud. She loves playing with rhyme. There is rhyme at the end of the line: Dr Seuss kind of rhyme and words that almost rhyme. There is alliteration and there is rhyme hiding along the line. There are short lines and there are longer lines. All these devices (things you choose to do when writing a poem) add up to a feast of sound. Here is one poem. Have a read and see if your ears can hear what the poem does with sound:
Ee – emu
There once was an emu named Eve, Who dined on small reptiles and leaves. She swallowed a lizard Which stuck in her gizzard now Eve prefers fruit, bark and seeds.
I love all the ducking and diving and dancing sounds in this poem!
POP-UP Challenge:I challenge you to choose a letter, a quirky animal and write a little poem. Listen hard to every line. Try tricky rhyme. Try Dr Seuss rhyme. Try hiding rhyme. Try salt and pepper alliteration (sprinkled through poem).
Deadline: Tuesday 14th December Include: Name, age, year, name of school Don’t forget to put ANIMAL POEM in the subject line so I don’t miss your email. I will pick one poet to give a copy of the book to. Will post some favourite poems on Wednesday or Thursday.
My cat Flubber is made of blubber he wobbles like rubber But I don’t care I love her.
Daniel Lovewell (Year 8) started writing poems for Poetry Box when he was in Y0 and has been writing them ever since. I have loved watching his poems spark and sparkle in multiple directions across the years, and always delighted in reading and responding to them. Next year he is off to secondary school and will move on from Poetry Box. I wanted to acknowledge his magnificent contributions with an interview and a selection of his poems.
I begin with one of the first poems he sent me and close with a very recent one he wrote on a school camp. I sent Daniel a whole bunch of questions, and asked him to pick and choose, but he answered the lot! I found his answers inspiring. I will miss Daniel just as he says he will miss Poetry Box. However other young poets who have followed Poetry Box, through primary and intermediate school, are now being published as young adults. I look forward to seeing where Daniel’s poetry goes next!
So it is a big thank you for this wonderful interview Daniel, and very best wishes for the future. I am popping a book surprise in the post for you.
Why have you liked writing poetry for such a long time?
When I was little I had to do lots of handwriting and this is something I found really hard – and still do really. Poetry let me tell stories using less words, so it quickly became the way I liked to write. Over time I kind of started thinking in poems as well.
Which challenges did you especially love?
My all time favourite was the Treasury Challenge back in 2014: Writing poems and then putting them in fascinating places in fascinating ways. I was only 5 but I still remember writing in ice and getting all angry because my writing kept disappearing! Other people wrote in the sand or with marbles…all sorts of crazy fun. We even had a visit from Paula to our school and did cookie poetry. I also loved the challenges where I learnt about different kinds of poems like Haiku and concrete poems.
Ice writing poems in 2014:
Which was the trickiest to do?
The last one I wrote, the Villanelle, was definitely the hardest!!! How can they put so many rules in just one kind of poem? But I loved the challenge, even if there is room for improvement in the poem! You can read it here.
What do you love to do in a poem?
Mostly I like to just set my imagination free. I like starting and just seeing where the poem takes me. I really like playing with different ways of using description – not only similes and metaphors but also things like personification and onomatopoeia (which is also pretty much the coolest word ever).
Son of a Son
If the Sun Had a son Would it say “Come son, let’s play in the sun! Would the son have a sunny disposition Or a fiery streak Would the Sun tell the son To rise and shine To reach for the stars Would the son Look up to the Sun Wondering if one day He could rise up And burn as bright
(2021, after Dick Frizzell)
I often get asked this! What inspires you as a young poet? Do you have favourite subjects?
Oh that’s hard. I think nature is my biggest inspiration. Certainly I think I write best when I am outside, and I often write when I’m sitting in or under a tree. Actually a lot of the times I come up with poems while I’m out hiking. And I used to make them while I was bored, sitting watching my sister play cricket! But another inspiration is my cats – I do love writing about my cats!
Poetry is Like Lego
Poetry is like Lego You take little pieces Just ordinary on their own You build them together Up, down, across To turn something plain Into something fantastical If you muddle the pieces You can make something totally new That belongs to only you
Pick several poems across the years you were especially proud or fond of.
I’m definitely proud of the poems that have ended up in printed books, like ‘Above the Blaze’ that went in the School Journal, and ‘On Anzac Day’ (2015), which won the NZ WWI Their Stories Our Stories competition. I also loved the ones we wrote on our travels to USA because they are great memories.
Riding on the Range (Big Sky, Montana)
Along a beige trail Amongst emerald trees Through silver streams Across ivory snow Under cyan sky Beneath golden sun Chasing the stripes of a Montana rainbow
2019 (You can read Daniel’s suite of USA poems here)
Above the Blaze
Throb, Throb, Throb The rotors beat against the rancid air Weaving in and out of the smothering smoke The sound engulfed in the merciless blanket
Trying to extinguish the raging inferno Trying to calm the monster Trying to evade the combusting maw of fury
Throb, Throb, Throb The rhythm of the mighty machine Runs through the pilot’s body In time with his racing pulse
Courageous pilot Calculating risks Confronting Mother Nature’s wrath from above
Throb, Throb, Throb The onlookers’ hearts pound As they watch trees falling into a sea of flame The merciless beast getting ever closer to their houses
They fight for their animals They fight for their homes They fight for their town
Throb, Throb, Throb The heroes fight the fire The fire fights the heroes
Who will win?
A top tip for growing writers is to read widely. What books have stood out in yourprimary and intermediate school reading?
Um, I read A LOT. I’ve been reading since I was three so there have been lots of favourite books! I love a good series you can get lost in for a long time. I have read the Harry Potter series 13 times and will happily read it again. I love Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five. And everything by David Hill and James Patterson. When I was younger I loved listening to the rhyme of Dr Suess and the Hairy McLary books. I learnt to read with Paul Jennings’ Rascal the Dragon series, and after that read my way through almost every book from Joy Cowley. Good old Mrs Wishy Washy! I think being read to is also really important and my family always have a read aloud on the go when we are all together – most recently John Marsden’s Tomorrow series. Sometimes writers annoy me though when they make funny descriptions that make no sense, such as “my heart was beating like a horse galloping with a broken leg”…wait, what?!?! But often I like the kind of imagery writers use and copy that style into my own writing.
What else has fascinated you?
Other countries and cultures fascinate me. Before Covid our family travelled a lot so there was always plenty of imagining and planning, and my mum always had us learn about new places before we went, then would immerse us in the history and tastes and “must do’s” wherever we went.
What other interests or activities have stuck with you?
I’ve been cooking since I was five and I still love to cook, there is just something about creating something you can share that makes me happy. My family often request my minestrone and my magnificent omelettes! I also love animals – especially cats and sheep. I have a busy life with sport and stuff as well.
Speed of Light
In the dark The cheetah stalks Muscular legs Moonshine eyes
A bush moves The cheetah sneaks Twitching tail Bristling fur
An animal races The cheetah chases Desert plains devoured Fast as the Speed of Light
In the dark The cheetah dashes Successful attack Deadly predator
A Summer Scene
On the river bank (Or if you prefer, the flank) Going hither and thither Like a mouse in a dither… Can I be bold And brave the cold? Edging over stones That would rattle my bones Finally floating along Hearing only nature’s song A river in summer Simply couldn’t be funner!
Has living in the time of a pandemic affected you at all? I was so delighted when TheHerald published your poem from my lockdown challenge last year.
I liked that lockdown challenge because it was a good time to stop and think about what we were living through. I was excited for the poem to be published! I actually quite like lockdowns, because our whole family is together and we can manage our time our own way without being tied to timetables. Because we live rurally we have plenty of space and things to do, so we are lucky. But now pandemic life is getting tiring. So many cool things at school got cancelled. I don’t want to go anywhere people-y because it is too hard with scanning and masking up and that sort of thing. It’s easier just to stay home. Our family all miss travelling overseas because it is part of who we are…but it will be a while before we go away again, and my sister and I will be so much older, I am not sure what it will be like.
The Heroes Supermarkets New Zealand
1 April 2020
Dear Supermarket workers,
Thank you. For putting up with this epidemic enough to keep us eating. It must be hard having to leave your bubble To sort out food fights And toilet paper turmoil And disinfectant dramas And rationing rules Keeping up with ever changing regulations Not knowing if the people who visit your store are sick Or if you might get sick Or what will happen next You soldier on for the greater good Spending your days on the front line In the war against Covid-19 You are the everyday heroes And on behalf of the people in my isolation bubble I say
Thank you. Yours sincerely
BUBBLEBOY A boy in a bubble
2020 (Also published in NZ Herald in lockdown)
What do you hope for the world?
I really hope that the world can settle back down into some kind of sensible way of being. It all seems a bit crazy right now with the virus and crimes and the climate, so it’s kind of hard to imagine the future. I think world peace is an impossible dream, but maybe a world with less fear could be something to hope for.
What would you like to be writing next year at secondary school?
Hopefully next year I will be writing poems that get used in school exams or get bought by advertising companies like my sister has! I think I will be doing more story writing next year, because that’s what you do at school, but I will be using lots of poetic techniques in my writing because that’s what I do. I hope we still get to write poems as well though – and study some too like Shakespeare’s sonnets. But I might start working on my own book of poems because I don’t want to stop writing them. One day I might even write a book like Paula!
What have you liked about your time with Poetry Box?
Everything! Paula is so encouraging and the time she takes to give everyone individual feedback is amazing. I have had so many incredible opportunities though Poetry Box – even getting my name with my sister’s on the back of the book Annual 2. I love reading everyone’s poems on the blog every month, because everyone has different ideas they bring to the challenges. And I guess best of all I have liked seeing my own writing get better. I am going to miss Poetry Box a lot.
The waves greet the beach With the roar of a thousand azure lions Beyond, horizon merges with sky In seamless symmetry The sun casts a warm glow As a blessing Flowers flicker in the gentle breeze While the ever changing dunes Are slowly blown away Not content to rest Beside the endless ocean sprawl Where waves like wild stallions Toss their heads as they gallop towards the shore.
Sometimes you pick a book and before you know it you are in the grip of a story that you can’t put down until you have finished it. Mary-anne Scott’s The Tomo is that kind of book. Gripping, moving, character rich.
Phil’s dad has to go to Auckland for cancer treatment so he is packed off to work on a sheep station. The good news is he gets to take his father’s dog Blue, but the bad news is the station manager (Chopper) is as grumpy as they come and thinks Blue is no good as a sheep dog. Phil is missing his family, hates where he is, but knows he has to stay for the sake of his dad. The other good news is that Emara, Chopper’s step-daughter comes to stay, and she is good company.
I don’t want to spoil a heart-in-the-throat story but when Phil is ordered to fetch a ram, and Blue falls down an extremely deep and dangerous hole (a tomo), nobody seems willing to rescue Blue. Phil’s dad is back home and wants Blue … well now the story shifts gears. Lives are at threat. I couldn’t stop reading.
Mary-anne was inspired to write this story because of one her grandfather used to tell her about the perilous rescue of a dog that fell down a tomo. The novel is in debt to family stories, a much loved location, Te Tairāwhiti, and to kōrero with Richard Niania, a historian and trustee of Pōhaturoa Station.
I loved this book so much. There is nothing like a story that grips you, but when you add in a family crisis, uncertainty, a bully, an ally, along with personal epiphanies – well the mix is irresistible.
Mary-anne Scott lives in Havelock North. Many of her previous titles have been shortlisted for the YA section of the Children’s Book Awards: Snakes and Ladders (Scholastic); Coming Home to Roost (Penguin) and Sticking with Pigs (One Tree House). Sticking with Pigs published in 2018 and was Shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award Trust Copyright Licensing NZ YA Award in 2018 was Shortlisted for the 2018 NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival and was named a 2019 Storylines Notable Book. Her latest titles, Spearo and Fantastic Mr Bean were published in 2020. Mary-anne’s website
Skinny Dip: Poetry, eds Susan Paris & Kate De Goldi, illustrations by Amy van Luijk, Massey University Press, 2021
Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris, editors of the popular and best-selling Annuals, have edited a lively, much-needed, and altogether stunning anthology of poems for middle and older readers. I review Skinny Dip: Poetry here, plus you can hear some poets read a poem. (Skinny Dippage at Massey University Press)
I was so inspired I invited children to write a poem that plays with various poetic forms as my November challenge. What a truckload of poems arrived – it has taken me ages to read them all and reply to you (do let me know if you haven’t heard back from me).
I might post some popUP challenges with giveaway books over the next few months while Poetry Box takes a part-time holiday.
I am sending copies of Skinny Dip to Eabha (Russley School) and Sophia (Royal Oak Intermediate) (thanks Massey University Press!) and I am sending a copy of my book Groovy Fish to Ashley and Leo (Ilam School), and James (Russley School).
Dancing around the trees
Confetti for the ants
Piper S,12 years old, Y7, Selwyn House
My Poetry Box Finale (villanelle)
It seems the time has come to say goodbye So many years have passed and seen me grow My poem box is full, and so am I
At first writing poetry I was shy When I began my poems came quite slow It seems the time has come to say goodbye
Now poems come from me easy as pie I like to share and have them out on show My poem box is full, and so am I
Poetry makes me feel like I can fly I like the way the words go to and fro It seems the time has come to say goodbye
This poem is the last that I shall try Now it finally seems that I must go My poem box is full, and so am I
So now I finish this one with a sigh Poetry Box I leave with much sorrow It seems the time has come to say goodbye My poem box is full, and so am I
Daniel L, age 13, Year 8, Hadlow School
It was a still day People walking talking and Kea screeching yes Screeching cicadas talking Today as loud as thunder
Leo F, 7, Year 2, Ilam School
a bright lily pad taking a little frog home in the cool river
Lucy P, age 10, Y 6, Selwyn House School
Summer Sun (acrostic)
Sun shining Umbrellas shading Mums lathering on thick sunscreen Mum sunbathing on the chair Eating sticky ice creams Racing on the hot sand to the water
Summer waves tickle the sand Unusual blue crabs scurrying away from sandy little hands Nice cool waves glistening like a diamond
Amelia Y, Y8, Russley School
The Amazing Fireworks (acrostic)
Fascinating fire, flickering I give them 100 out of 100. Roaring in the night sky. Exploding, BOOM! BANG! CRACKLE! WOW! Ooooooo la la…. Red, blue, gold and silver. KABOOM! I see a rainbow. So amazed, so ecstatic, so happy.
Miha, age 5, Phoenix age 6 and Jessie age 5, Westmere School
Poems are awesome Open your mind and release the creativity in you Enthusiastic in all ways Treats for me to make Relax and open the creative lock You and I know poems are the best.
Baden, Year 4, Richmond Road School
The Leaf (rondel)
The young leaf Flying around the world Pure joy filling its heart Little does it know that the wind will end soon
That one little leaf Its tree home flying beyond the horizon The young leaf flying around the world
Just as the fear begins to kick in The wind turns around the leaf again The young leaf Flying around the world
Amelia W, Year 7, Selwyn House School
Oh, your hair is as brown sweet melted chocolate
Your eyes are pools of glistening blue water
Your cooking would make 1000 people want to stay for dinner
You have humour that would only make a dad laugh
Sophia E, Year 4, Russley School
Push ups, an instructional poem
Read in two breaths.
Move into a planking position making sure your hands are parallel to your shoulders and the small of your back is not arched then you must squeeze your core tight and hold your breath before beginning to bend your elbows which is when your body should start to get closer to the ground and after repeating this a few times you may breathe again. But you must hold your breath immediately afterwards and your upper arms and core will begin to feel like it’s about to implode but if you do too many push ups you will collapse to the ground in a heaping mess.
Eabha D, Year 8, Age 13
Shines bright from far,
Tearing through the vast sky,
Raced the clouds but still hurtled by.
One evening the moon,
Naughtily comes after noon,
Oh, don’t go at night!!!
My don’t the stars shine bright!
Young and old are they,
A star no longer their today,
No longer exists,
Dreary Saturn spins his ring around his wrist.
Astronaut takes his first step on the moon,
Saying “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind” one afternoon.
Trouble brews as an asteroid comes in contact with earth,
Rolling on dinosaurs and 65 million years after we have humans birth,
Orange and red, the sun burns bright,
Lashing out whips of fire yet nothing gets set light,
Omniscient zodiac scattered across the sky,
Great, old wise ones way up high,
Ye stars shine bright, and as the morning comes, we say goodbye.
Amadeia D, Y6, age8, Kaurilands School
Writing My Poem (sonnet)
When the challenge appears, I grin I plan, I brainstorm, I write Ideas come flowing, my head starts to spin Keeping me up all night I get inspiration, I go with the flow I use the best words I can I jot it all down, it all starts to grow Soon, my poem looks good I examine each line, I edit with care And I leave it for a day I read it again, add some things here and there With a smile, I put it away I submit with a click, and my job is done The next challenge will be even more fun
Megan L, age 11, Y7, Kingsway School
Ode to the Best Ball
You fly through the air like a hawk with a back wind You are as bouncy as a trampoline as grippy as newly bought shoes as orange as a freshly grown carrot When you swish it makes me feel like Steph Curry
Some people find your continuous bouncing annoying Some people think your game has too many rules Some people think mouth guards are uncomfortable Some people don’t like you
but you appeal to me
James D, Age 10, Year 5, Russley School
Ode to Mr Walker
Oh, your hair is as dark as a log. Your tie is fastened like a seat belt. You run the classroom like a world-wide famous comedian. You teach the whole class properly but still you add a lot of silliness into learning. When you come up to the microphone at assembly, you fill up with joy like a hot air balloon ready to take off. You are simply the one and only Mr Walker.
Moaz A, Yr 5, Age 10, Russley School
Misa, age 12, Y7, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate (haiku)
Winter Nights (sonnet)
On this winter night The water turns to ice
The fire’s alight You’re fully fed You turn off the light And go to bed
The blanket though itchy Keeps you warm And the pillow so fluffy Keeps you comfy
Your eyes flutter closed And the dreams begin to swarm
As the water turns to ice
Sophia R, age 11, Yr 7, Royal Oak Intermediate
Grateful like a river in the afternoon.
Respectful like a ruru fling in the wind.
Amazing like a kea jumpy up and down.
Nice like a Māui dolphin swimming.
Delicate like a kiwi.
Mindful like a mouse watching for predators.
Openminded like a moa running.
Thankful like a little penguin feeding on fish.
Hopeful like a hedgehog sleeping soundly.
Elegant like an eagle swooping.
Responsible like a tuatara sunbathing.
Isabella B, age 10, Selwyn House
Alone (rhymed free verse)
Alone on the streets, For she is a stray, Looking for somewhere safe to stay.
Up some stairs, off to the side, There sits a small box with a blanket inside, There she nestles, hidden from prying eyes.
She licks herself clean, Confused and Unsure, Because now she is looking after four more.
(Note from Lily: My Grandparents live in Greece, and in Greece, there are stray dogs and cats EVERYWHERE. A couple of days ago my grandma and grandpa found a stray cat in their cat’s little outside house, and they went to go and move her, but then four tiny little faces appeared beside her and they realised that the cat was a mum who had literally just given birth in their cat’s little box. So now they’re looking after Lucky (I named the mum cat) and her four kittens. The kittens are adorable, but it’s so sad that they are strays. I thought that doing a poem about this was a good idea because it’s about something recent in my family and it relates to a problem that I have always been interested in fighting.)
Lily R, Year 8, Age 12, Royal Oak Intermediate
Ashley C, Age 9, Y4, Ilam School (acrostic)
Moving On (tanka)
My blazer buttoned
Tears streaming, waiting for my
Name, walking up steps
Smiles from teachers giving hope
Running through the past
Violetta D, age 12, Selwyn House School
Sun shining on the yellow bay.
Umbrellas are wasted in this heat.
My legs burn from the scorching temperature.
Magazines escape the hands of sunbathers and fly into the sun.
Energetic children splash in the low tide.
Rat-bag seagulls steal my hot chip lunch and gleefully glide away.
Micheala E, Eabha D, Year 8, age 13, Russley School
Ode to Our Tears
Thank you, little droplets streaming from our eyes. For leaving us there, For when we can rise. Thank you, small drips of frustration. For letting us think, For our bodily precipitation Thank you rivers full of emotion, For making us realise, For us stepping onward with motion.
Ameer, Year 6, Ilam School
My motivation melts away, I’ll gather the wax and create another candle, for another day. Burning as I dip myself in, the paraffin encases my limbs.
A week since I last moved, my surroundings were new. I dash and cling on to what I can,forcing myself to move. My motivation melts away, I’ll gather the wax and create another candle, for another day.
Latched onto a barbed wire fence, dangling off the edge of a cliff. I’m taking everything down with me. My motivation melts away, I’ll gather the wax and create another candle, for another day.
Abigail Nathan, 13, Year 8, Royal Oak Intermediate
Ode to my future cat
Oh kitty cat, oh kitty cat.
Your luscious silver fur drapes down your body.
If you didn’t exist neither would I. Oh kitty cat, when you purr mountains shake. Oh kitty cat your long and elegant tail curves like a snake when you are happy.
When you’re hungry I can only serve you the most posh on earth. Oh kitty cat, I dream of our future together.
Marlon 10 yrs, Pukete School Yr. 5
The Cat Comes (haiku)
Pad pad pause pad pad.
Cat comes running swiftly now.
Slumber soundly cat.
Rebecca F, age 8, Y4, SelwynHouse
Riding on the Donkey (cinquains)
Hee haw! The donkey brays I post the floaty trot The black donkey canters smoothly Hee haw!
Clip clop From walk to trot Playful rhythmic bounces The donkey’s hooves go up and down Clip clop
Wind screams Yellow sand blows Riding on the donkey Ocean waters swallow the air Wind screams
Josie P, Age 10, Ilam School
Ode to Isla
Your fur is as dark as the midnight sky Your eyes shine like the stars at night Your nose is as dark as a blackberry Your howl sounds like a balloon deflating Your tail wags like leaves blowing in the wind
You are as playful as a pixie with fairy dust In the car you are as calm as the sun setting On walks you bounce around like a basketball You’re always hungry, like a panther who hasn’t eaten for days
When you are excited, you zoom around the house like a ferrari on a race track It is summer every day with you here You are cunning, cute and courageous I couldn’t imagine life without you
Sara T, Age 10, Y6, Russley School
Ode to Summer
Your ice block melting weather makes me want to be outside Oh, you make the crops and flowers grow to the peak of perfection
You make the tennis stars come out to play You let the gardeners snip away at their bushes and trees You let the school fields be open
You are my saviour from the freezing cold Your heat waves make the parents give in to the mr whippy ice cream Oh, summer what would I do without you?
Lucas Y, Age 10, Year 5, Russley School
Ode to Our Librarian
Oh, Mrs Ussher, hair as bright as a sunflower, glasses perched on your nose
You run the library like the queen of a castle
issuing books faster than the speed of light
Your book fairs are magnificent like a room full of treasure
You’re simply the best librarian ever
Moaz A, Lucas Y, James DW, Sophia E, Sara T, Chloe S Y5 and Y6, Awa Nui Writing Club, Russley School
Draw Some Awesome: Drawing Tips & Ideas for Budding Artists, Donovan Bixley, Upstart Press, 2021
I loved Donovan Bixley’s drawing book so much I gave children 48 hours to draw the shape of a fruit or vegetable and then transform it into something else. I got the idea from the book! You can read my glowing review here.
The drawings were ALL so amazing – thank you!! Such imagination. I have picked four to post. This is not a competition but I put all the names in the hat and am giving a copy of the book to Stephen.
Try the Donovan Bixley drawing competition on the Upstart page. You have until December 17th.
Draw Some Awesome: Drawing Tips & Ideas for Budding Artists, Donovan Bixley, Upstart Press, 2021
“Sometimes I feel like my brain will explode from so many ideas so I put them into sketchbooks.”
Ah 🧡 Donovan Bixley’s Draw Some Awesome 🧡 is a treasure of a book. If you love drawing, then this is the perfect book for you.
Donovan has loved drawing since he was a young boy – and that is where the book starts. He shares some drawings he did at the age of eight and the extremely cool books he made. You can carry things you love doing as a child all along the tracks towards adulthood. Glorious! He is like a character on every page, (such an excellent likeness!) giving top tips and making little jokes. He would copy artists he loved (Leonardi da Vinci, Edgar Degas, all the paintings at the Louvre in Paris, Dr Seuss for a start).
“There is no right or wrong way to draw.”
The book has loads of fabulous exercises. All you need is a pencil and some paper.You can use what is close at hand to inspire you and you can use your imagination. But Donovan gets you drawing. He will most definitely get you drawing. In fact he got me drawing. He might start with doodling. He might start with a kitchen pot or a pair of shoes. Using different kinds of lines and shading. Adding details. Making a catalogue of faces with truckloads of different expressions. He starts easy and then tries trickier. He might draw a fruit or vegetable shape and then transform it into something altogether different. Genius. He shows what a difference perspective makes by doing the same page twice, once with it, and once without. Genius. He will get you playing with shading and composition. There’s inspiration and there’s imagination.
Donovan has created a magnificent handbook for children who love drawing and for those who are just starting out. He writes and draws with his characteristic sense of humour. He makes things accessible. He includes ideas and wisdoms that I totally agree with and that work for those of us who love writing. Draw draw draw is like write write write. In the doing you will discover things. Copy copy copy (look look look) is like read read read (discover discover discover). Find ways that suit you. Like Donovan, as a writer I have never stopped reading and discovering how to write. What suits me. I write both inside and outside my comfort zones, and I reckon Donovan does that too.
He has a quote from Mozart: “Don’t wait for permission to be artistic. If you feel it in your heart, JUST DO IT!” Donovan definitely feels it in his heart as this is a book of FUN challenges and infectious HEART. I adore it.
A drawing challenge so I can give the book away:
You have until 5pm on Thursday to draw the shape of a fruit or vegetable and then transform it into something else. Try pencil or coloured pencils. I have had a go! I will post some on Friday and I will give one copy of the book away. This is not a competition – it is a challenge so you too can have fun drawing.
Include: name, year, age, name of school
Put DRAWING in email subject line so I don’t miss your email.
Deadline: 5pm Thursday 2nd December
Post: Friday 3rd December
“But I don’t want you to draw like me. I want to teach you to draw like you!”
Donovan Bixley is an illustrator and writer based in Taupo. Donovan has numerous bestsellers to his name, including the recent Maui series, and Much Ado About Shakespeare. Donovan created Pussycat, Pussycat (2015), Little Bo Peep (2014), The Wheels on the Bus (2010)and Old Macdonald’s Farm (2011) and The Great Kiwi ABC (2016).
Try the Donovan Bixley competition on the Upstart page. You have until December 17th.
I had a go drawing using things I saw on the kitchen table – mug, apple, banana. I was thinking of mashup poems. Now I want to do a whole lot more and get better but also want to get the post up PRONTO! Paula