Author Archives: Paula Green

#nzbookshopday I am reading at Auckland’s Children Bookshop on Saturday 11.15am

Dear young poetry fans,

Come and say hello and pick a poem from The Letterbox Cat for me to read.

On Saturday bookshops all over NZ are doing exciting things because they love books and we love books.

I can’t decide which poems to read yet so let me know if you have  FAVOURITE that you think I should pick!  Add a comment here or email me

The Children’s Bookshop is in Jervois Road and it has loads of good books.

Happy NZ Bookshop Day,

from Paula

Three gorgeous Gecko picture books to tickle your toes – and a very good Gecko challenge for a hungry hunter-reader

It is always such a treat to open a Gecko picture book because I can guarantee the book will give me a warm book glow. And when I get a warm book glow I am ready to do anything!

Today I reread three in a row. So you might just want to go Geckohunting in bookshops and libraries to find these little gems.


ViewImage-1.jpg   ViewImage-1.jpg   ViewImage-1.jpg


The first book, If I Was a Banana, is written by Alexandra Tylee. She has written two cookbooks because she is the owner and chef at the fabulous Pipi restaurant in the Hawkes Bay. They make very very good food! This is her first book for children.

The illustrator, Kieran Rhynhart, lives in Wellington and illustrated the very amazing New Zealand Art Activity Book. The pictures in If I Was a Banana are magical – they have that special glow that make you want to look and look and look. Gorgeous.

I love this book so much because it is very simple and very perfect. A young child imagines what they would be like if they were something else. For example:

‘If I were a banana I would be that one,

all yellow and fat and full of banana.’


The boy imagines what he might be like if he were a bird or mountain or a cloud for starters. If you like beautiful writing and illustrations that give you goosebumps then this is the book for you.


ViewImage.jpg   ViewImage.jpg   ViewImage.jpg



The second book is That’s Not a Hippopotamus! is written by Juliette MacIver and Illustrated by Sarah Davis. I am a big fan of Juliette’s writing because she fills her pen with bounce and leap and verve. Her imagination cartwheels and her sentences sing. Sarah’s illustrations are pretty cool too.

A teacher, her class and a zookeeper are on the hunt for a missing hippo – easier said than done when the children keep mistaking every animal they see for a hippo. The children are so skiddadlebubble excited they think the elephant is a hippo … and the giraffe is a hippo!

You will have to read the book to see whether they ever discover the right animal … maybe a little boy called Liam has something to do with it!

This is a fun read from one of my favourite New Zealand children’s authors. If you like words that dance and stories that leap then this is the book for you.


ViewImage-2.jpg   ViewImage-2.jpg   ViewImage-2.jpg


The third book is the book for all of us who love dogs because it is A Day with Dogs and every page is steaming with dogs. It reminds me of Richard Scarry books because every page is very busy – it takes ages to turn the page. I liked hunting for my favourite dog. There’s the flashest dog house I have ever seen. The  bathroom is a disaster zone with six dogs in the tub, the shower on and the water overflowing.

You get to count things and follow a dog alphabet.

You get to see dogs at work, playing sport, making art, having a birthday, going up the mountain – and a million other things.

The author, Dorothée de Monfreid, is from France. Apparently she is very good on the ukelele.

If you like dogs and busy books then this is the book for you.


Gecko Press here

and if you want to get a stack of Gecko books:





Daniel and Gemma find poetry boulders

I do love getting letters from you! Gemma and Daniel just wrote with news of their holiday. They were very excited as they have had some poems accepted for Toitoi (I will be telling you where to submit for another issue soon).

Meanwhile they discovered these in Blenheim (I thought it was such a great idea!):



‘Firstly, in the school holidays we went to the South Island and did the DOC Kiwi Guardians challenges there.  One that we went to was in Blenheim, called the Taylor River reserve.  They had a writers’ walk with “Poetry Boulders” … huge boulders with plaques that have poems, written by local school students on them!  The poems raise awareness of environmental values.  We thought they were so cool! Here is a photo of one of them.’


October Poetry Box Challenge – Imagination leaps



I love letting my imagination set sail when I write poems (amidst a thousand other things).

So for October, I challenge you to write a poem with a dollop of imagination.

I suggest letting your poem sit for a few days before you send it to me so you can spot things you might like to improve – or mistakes.


Here are some tips and starting points:

Ask some what if questions. What if I could fly? What if the world were made of broccoli?

Imagine you are a character from a book.

See things in the real world completely differently. A world of tall things. A topsy-turvy world.

Invent some animals as I did in my poem ‘Anifables.’

Write an ordinary poem about ordinary things but then give it an extraordinary ending.

Imagine something strange happens in your back garden.

Imagine you have a secret.

Invent a new food or tree or machine.

Imagine you meet a famous person.


….. or surprise me … with your own imagination             l   e   a   p


Hunt for really good detail before you start writing your poem.

Listen to every line.

Test out three very different endings.

Remember to give it a title.


How will you set your poem out?

Hide a surprise in your poem somewhere.


Imagine something that happened in history very differently.  Like landing on the moon.


h a v e     f u n    !


SEND your poem to

DEADLINE Friday October 28th

Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s email if you like.

P l e a s e    p u t   ‘Imagination poem’ in the subject line of your email.

I will pick some favourites to post on the blog and have a book for at least one reader and maybe even a book for a class.

I will post on  Monday 31st October.




I am on the hunt for A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children



This week I went up north to talk about my poetry at the Tai Tokerau Literacy Conference in spectacular Paihia and Russell and I discovered the Treasury I edited is now out of print.

Most of my books are out of print but this book gave me a sad day because it felt like a special book for New Zealand’s children’s poetry had disappeared. The book feels like taonga because we have so few poetry books for children in print. There has never been a book quite like it.

The publisher is sad too but they can’t reprint it because it just doesn’t work budget wise.

So I had a day of tears and then picked myself up and got back to my big book I am writing and my new collection of poems for children I have been working on.


I thought there were still hundreds of copies left because I forgot to check, so am now on the hunt to buy a few copies for myself.

I am sending out a request for Treasury hunters: If you spot a copy somewhere in NZ can you let me know where so I can buy it please? I just wanted a little pile in case there are any new children in my family tree.


I have been wondering how we can keep books like this – that are important literary celebrations of who we are – alive for children readers. I have made myself the unofficial ambassador for children’s poetry in New Zealand but this week it has felt like a very tough job.


Maybe a generous benefactor will put in an order for 1000 copies!


If you spot a copy  for me, I will be over the moon!

Two FABULOUS new books from Gecko Press – a super rabbit and a not-hippopotamus

What a treat when I get a parcel of books from Gecko Press.

Here are two new picture books you might like to check out (I loved them both!):





Super Rabbit

by Stephanie Blake.


Stephanie (she’s from the USA but lives in France ) wrote the ULTRA popular Poo Bum. Open the book and you will be in a world of EYE poPPing colour.

When his mum asks him to get up, he says he is super rabbit but his first KAPOW action is not very SUPER!

There is no way this rabbit wants to do ORDINARY things.

He wants to HUNT villains but will have the COURAGE he needs?

Wait and see what happens when he finds the COLD and DARK of a hollow tree!

Wait and see what happens when SOMETHING sharp gets stuck in his finger!

I gobbled this book up in a flash – it is bright wordDAZZLING fun!







That’s Not a Hippopotamus!

by Juliet MacIver and Sarah Davis


A local author and illustrator have come up with a winning combination.

I gobbled this book up in flash too with its scrumptious illustrations and zingpinging words. Rhyme plays a big part and darts and dashes all over the line.

A group of children and their teacher are on the hunt for a hippo at Don’s safari but

there is a lot of CONFUSION about what a hippo looks like. So all kinds of animals look lik they might be a hippo but are so NOT hippos.

A very very fun read from a very very cool local writer. The illustrations zoom with LIFE!

Poetry Box – some favourite travel poems

What a joy to get a HUGE bunch of travel poems to read. You really took to this challenge. I loved the way your poems took me all over the world and then into your back garden.

I once cycled up to the Matterhorn in Switzerland so that poem took me right back.

I loved the poems that were simple but built a picture of a place that dragged me elsewhere.

I loved the poems that were rich in detail.

I loved the poems that played with words.

I loved the poems that used a tablespoon of imagination.

I am sending the Letterbox Cat to Jasmine for her tree hut poem because it just seemed perfect in every detail.


And I especially loved the poems sent from a class at Paparoa Street School too. I have posted six at the bottom to inspire you. The class played with how the poems looked but didn’t sacrifice good detail and great language. I am sending you The Letterbox Cat too.


I am sorry I couldn’t pick you all but the blog would have gone on for miles. What great poets you are! What a treat to read you all!


New challenge tomorrow.



Treehouse Home


My house has a huge totara tree

In the front garden

You can do handstands

Against it’s trunk.


My house has a long line of trees

Along the sides

When the leaves fall

They drape the ground with a carpet.


My house has trees

Leaning over the trampoline

When they drop off

The trampoline is covered in leaves

We always have to sweep them off.


Our house has a slightly overgrown lawn

Weeds push their way

Through the strands

Of green grass


You can tell why people call our house a treehouse.
By Jasmine, Gladstone School



Kaikoura Farm

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 12.19.41 PM.png

Amelia G, age 11, Year 6,  Selwyn House School (Amelia told me she goes to stay on a farm every second weekend, and she decided to write it from the point of view of a fawn as she has a pet deer.


The Sea

I travel and land
On burning summer sand.
Waves crash and back away.
Many feet jump on the salty sea.
Seagulls zoomed for salty fish prey.
Now this was my best summer holiday!!!
Manasa M, Age 10, Year 6,  Churton Park School


Finnishing in Finland

There’s snow on the right
A tree on the left.
Ice to the north
Wind from the south.
Snow blankets on roads and runways
Icy seas all around.

Huskies howl to get going
Panting eagerly as they pull us
Through the winter wonderland

A snowmobile grunts across the tundra
A toboggan slips by at the speed of sound
A reindeer clops slowly through the heavy snow

Icy seas all around
Snow blankets on roads and runways.
Wind from the south
Ice to the north.
A tree on the left
And there’s snow on the right.

And now my poem is Finnished.

Daniel year 3, Adventure School, age 8 now.


The Jetty

I tiptoe along the jetty

Arms spread out wide

Water overflows the concrete plank

I crouch down

And dip my toes in

Sun shines over the water

I almost fall in the lake when Mum yells,

“Come back Jazzy!”

“ We have to keep moving along the lake if we want to get home before the pizza gets soggy!”

By Jasmine L, Age 10, Year 5  Gladstone Primary School



Tropical trees twinkle,
Down the lovely lane of leaves,
Samoa is a lovely place to visit,
When songs shimmer straight through sandy streets,
It’s fun to have a splash,
When the pool is a sapphire colour,
It’s a fun journey,
Learning about the Samoan culture.

by Sina A, aged 9, Fendalton School Christchurch


After I went to the U.S.A., this is what I want say…

In San Francisco, get down to the disco
In Washington D.C, everything is  easy
In New York City, everybody’s pretty
In California, fun is waiting for ya

Down in Texas, the heat really gets us
Go to Cincinnati, everybody’s chatty
In Arizona, you could be a loner
In Nevada, it’s a little harder

Round in Colorado, it’s all about bravado
By Mississippi, the river makes it slippy
In Wyoming, see  buffalo roaming
Come to Delaware, nothing can compare

Across the United States, there’s always something great!

By Gemma L, Adventure School



Blissful salty air
Flows behind my messy hair
Glistening water
Piercing with pride
Promising sand
Sinking like the Titanic
The old boat shed
Surrounded by tropical trees
Trees singing for new life
Bellbird waiting for the call
Eager to see his new life
Among the tropical trees
Surrounding the boat shed
By the promising sand
Sinking like the Titanic
By the glistening water
Piercing with pride
Behind my messy hair
Smelling the blissful salty air

Lottie H, Year 7, Selwyn House School


Beautiful Schweiz
Lush grass,
Fresh ice blue water,
The cool breezes.
The Matterhorn
Delicate clouds surrounding it,
Reaching up into the deep blue skies,
Heavy snow covering the ground like a blanket.
The Spacious Cottage
The view from the window,
The trees swaying,
The bee’s nacturing.
Bahnhofstrasse street
The sound of cars and trains passing through,
People chatting and pushing through crowds,
Expensive shops light up.
The Ibex
Walking confidently through the swiss alps,
Horns as strong as stone,
Soft fur covering them from head to toe.
Fuzzy white petals,
The sweet scent,
Growing in the mountains.

By Lily B 12 years old Year 7 Selwyn House School


The Beach       

I sneak out the hut,
I chase after my pet Peanut,
I run down the beach,
“Come back, Peach,”
Says my mum,
I walk back and chew gum,
I ask, why can’t I go into the dyed water,
“It’s lava dummy, even one jump is slaughter,”
A while later we put our suitcases into the cars,
“Next time we shouldn’t have a holiday on mars.”

By Amber Y6 age 10 churton park school


The Beach

The water glistens in the golden rays of sunlight.

Waves gently lap against the shore.

I watch as the shimmering blue water comes  tumbling down, transforming

Into  rushing white water.

Deafening squawks come from the seagulls.

I feel the soft grainy sand between my toes.

Clear running water travels from the sea into the shallow lagoon.

Water splashes against the seaweed covered walls of the sea cave.

I gaze up to the towering cliffs which hide the neighbouring beach.

Mounds of sand get blown around by gentle breezes.

The smooth rocks get hotter and hotter in the fiery sun.

I glance out at the horizon in silence…

Suddenly the smell of boysenberry fills my nostrils.

“What is that?”  I sniffed again.

“ Actually,  I know that smell.”


I whip myself around, my Mum is coming towards me with ice creams in her hands!
  Amelie K, Year 5, Gladstone Primary


Into the forest
There the hat floated peacefully next to the car that never rots, circling the car never leaving its side. It’s been there so long that nobody can even remember what happened.

Through my old age I’ve never seen the mysterious object stir or move, but today day this all changed. Once at midnight when the moon was full I saw the stainless navy car drift though the water, reflecting the moon light, gently, quietly, riding over the gravel, dripping wetness.

A hat floated inside, just centimetres from the curved roof. The glistening car disappeared into a thick forest of trees.

James D, 10 years old, Y6, St. Andrews College


Desert Song
Towering dunes rippled from the wind
Small thorny bushes standing low to the ground
Hot burning sun beating relentlessly down
This is the desert

Falcon spiralling above
Keen eyes searching for food
Arabian Oryx leap the dunes
Camels plodding
Carrying heavy loads
These are the desert’s creatures

The wind seems to be rising
Can a sandstorm be near
Mirages shimmer
Tricks of the sun that never stops shining
This is the desert’s weather

The hot shining sun going up and down
No sign of clouds in a clear blue sky
This is the desert’s sun

Tall rising sand dunes
Falcon soaring high
Hot burning sun
Rising wind
Endless mirages
As far as the eye can see
This is the desert

Sarah-Kate, Age 11, Homeschooled



Six wonderful travel poems from Paparoa Street School




Poetry Box Challenge: t r a v e l p o e m s


Awhile ago I saw Lonely Planets held a world-wide poetry competition for children to write travel poems … poems about favourite places (it’s over now).

So this month I challenge you to write a poem about another place (not the suburb you live in).

It might be another town or city or country. It might be another suburb. It might be a tourist attraction. A mountain, a river, a forest, a paddock, a street, an ocean, a museum.

It might be what you ate there or did there or saw there. The best pasta or ice cream or noodles.

It might be somewhere or something you would like to show a visitor in your own place.


You might have been there and can use your experience.

You might not have been there but can do a little research/reading/asking. In this case you can use your imagination to play with what you discover.

How can you give your poem that extra zing?


  1. use good detail
  2. imagine you are taking a photo with words
  3. hunt for surprising things about this place
  4. write your poem as though you are telling someone about the place
  5. use your senses
  6. play with how you set the poem out
  7. try writing a poem postcard about the place
  8. write about the place as a poem letter
  9. write two words that sum up the place then don’t use the in the poem. Find other words to show how the place is beautiful and fun for example.
  10. think about the ending. Try three then pick your favourite.
  11. remember children of all ages read this blog (I don’t publish poems that might disturb young children)



Have fun! Read your poem out loud. Don’t send it to me straight away. Keep it for a day or two then see if you want to change anything.


SEND your poem to

DEADLINE Wednesday September 28th

Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s email if you like.

P l e a s e    p u t   ‘Travel poem’ in the subject line of your email.

I will pick some favourites to post on the blog and have a book for at least one reader and maybe even a book for a class.

I will post on  Friday 30th September.

Poetry Box – some of my favourite story poems

My story-poem challenge was so popular because I have spent hours reading though all my poem mail.  Thank you!

I loved the way your stories made me laugh, surprised me and sometimes made me a bit sad.

That is what poems can do.

I picked poems that told stories.

Sometimes there were very good poems that I loved but the subject was too strong or old for my blog. You need to remember that 5-year-olds read this blog!


I am sending a copy of The Letterbox Cat to a class entry this time: Mr Duncan‘s seven-year-olds at Seven Oaks School.

I am also sending a copy of The Letterbox Cat to Daniel from Fendalton School.


Congratulations if I picked your poem to share but remember every poem was a joy to get.

Do try my new challenge tomorrow.


Pickle cat goes to the Olympics

As Pickle cat woke up bright,
He got a large giant fright!
It was the day of many events,
“The Olympics!” he said. “Where are my tents?”
And when he found his camping gear,
He brushed and combed and tidied his hair.
And he set off in his car,
Which he called Avatar.
He arrived and he got into his running shoes,
He was certain he wouldn’t lose.
And when his race came he sprinted to the start,
Just quick enough to miss being hit by a dart.
3,2,1! Said the starter,
And he sprinted but people shouted re start her!
He sprinted across the finish line,
The gold medal is all mine!
But Pickle cat only got silver,
He was beaten by a cat called Builder!
“Wait wait, we have made a mistake!
The first place winner was that cat by the lake!”
And Pickle cat glanced up,
To see the starter handing him the golden cup!
“Oh, my luck!”
Exclaimed Pickle cat.” I thought I would be stuck!”
So Pickle cat drove home,
To where he could roam,
Without have pressure on his head,
So Pickle cat hopped into bed
He read the daily news paper,
With a massive heading The Great Olympics Muddle Up Caper
With a sigh he fell asleep,
As the newspaper dropped at his feet.

Scarlett, Y4, age 8, Chelsea Primary School




Her old cottage,
sits cold and still.
I stare through
the fogged up window.
Grandma is lying
on the hard aged couch .
My family sits
around her with
red puffy eyes.
A loud rumble
coming from under
her house.
Grandma sits up
and says goodbye.
She had a grateful heart.

Maddie S Year 8  12 years old Selwyn House School


Ski Day

Get up before the sun

Hop in the car

The mountains seem so far.


On the magic carpet

Up the hill we go

Then down the hill we go.


Time to go now

Hop back in the car

Now the mountains aren’t so far.

 By Isla Neale Age 7 Seven Oaks School


The saucepan man

The saucepan man
Has a clatter of pans
So when you see him
He will clatter and bang

The saucepan man
Has a clatter of pans
So when you see him
He’ll have his hands on his pans
And his pans on his hands

He hears things wrong
So he sings a funny song
“Two bees for a flower,
Two streets for a town.
Two showers for an hour.
Hi diddely gown.”
And that is the saucepan man!

Nell M Y4, age 8, Home school through Alpha. ‘I wrote a poem about my favorite character – the Saucepan Man from The Faraway Tree – it tells a story about how he likes pans and is a little bit deaf and sings funny songs.’


The Cat

The cat, the cat
It spits and spats.
Beware she’s a dangerous cat,
She spits and spats.
The cat sees a mouse in the middle of the kitchen floor.
She caught it, ate it and spits and spats

Teresa is a Year 3 student at St Andrews College, Christchurch



The Bread that Talked

I was having breakfast
And I buttered the bread.
I heard a voice.
What was that?
I realised it was the bread!!
It magically made me a king
With a bread
Suddenly my friend came
And said to me “My Lord”
And I was happy.

Soeren W Ilam School 7 years old


My Brother’s Tournament

Next weekend

Packing already

So excited


Let’s go now

We will miss you

I hope I don’t have to kiss you


I wish him luck

I love you

So much

By Emily Murray Age 8 Seven Oaks School


The Netball Game

Arrived at the courts
Puddles three inches deep
Seven minutes until we start
How are we going to warm up?
Shivering like an ice cube
Started now
Worst game
Numb body
Saturated from bottom to top
Everything gone dark
Fuse broken
Didn’t get to finish
Cut short

Alexis 9 years Year 4 Stanmore Bay School                       



Tomorrow  is Today

We know that tomorrow
Is always just today
from the sleeping on the ground
to the moping around
Our lives will never change
They will always stay the same

But there’s me and there’s you
And together we will make it through
From the illness
To the stillness of our lives
Sometimes it seems a little scary
And how you’re always really weary

You struggle to eat food
But I try to improve your mood
People in our shoes
have nothing to lose
And we will always have a say
In what will be our day

Except for the way
We survive and live
People are always willing to forgive
But not to give
No not what we need most
Not even like a piece of toast

But there’s me and there’s you
And we know that even if
Tomorrow will always just be
the same as today
We will always try
to make it our way

Amber J 12 years old Northcross Intermediate


Going to the Movies

Get in line

Smell the butter

What are we going to watch?


Say your choices

What seat are we sitting on?

Screen bigger then a jumbo jet


The movies are fun

I want to go again

Such an awesome treat


By Cooper Bunting Age 7 Seven Oaks School


Who Knows?

On the Way to School

Frost tickles the grass

Like little chunks of diamond

Maybe it is,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

Jaky’s little brother

Sticks his head out

Of their car

A mischievous grin

Scrawled on his face

As if he was

Devising an evil plan

Maybe he is,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

A boy with a

Bright blue backpack

Trots his way to school


Like a pony

Maybe he is one,

Who knows?


On the Way to School

Laughter fills the pathways

As if a clown was parading

Down the street

Maybe one is

Who knows?


On the Way Home

From school

The smell of baking

Wafts out of the house

Like cake

I bet it is cake

Trust me, I know!


Jasmine L 10 years old Year 5 Gladstone Primary School




One day I went to the river.

I found a piece of gladwrap and an old toy car.

I found a snail shell and two broken kites.

That night I wondered if I could find a seagull shell.

The next day I went to the river and found a seagull shell.

I noticed anything is possible if you BELIEVE!

By Daniel W Age 8 School Fendalton Open-Air school




Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.40.21 AM.png

Sarah-Kate S, Age 11, Year 7, homeschooled