Category Archives: NZ Author

Poetry Box on tour with Storylines from Blenheim to Timaru: my poems, children’s poems, photos and 3 secret poetry challenges with Groovy Fish to give away

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Philippa, Eileen, me, Vasanti and Libby – Anne took the photo!

 

 

On the road poem

 

The mountains disappear into the grey sky

but everywhere I look I see more mountains

 

I imagine the mountain peaks looking down

 asking me Where are you going?

What will you discover?

Will you poetry dance in schools?

 

Paula Green

 

 

When Storylines invited me to do a children’s author tour from Bleheim to Timaru I instantly said yes after several years of saying no to things. Now that my big book Wild Honey is in the world I have more time for school visits, author tours and festivals. Exciting!

I was with Libby Limbrick (the Storylines rep), Anne Dickson (Manager of the Community Library at Mahurangi East and Storylines committee member) and three authors: Vasanti Unka (picture book whizz), Philippa Werry (writer of fiction and nonfiction fascinations) and Eileen Merriman (who crafts YA and adult fictions that move you and make you think). It was a DREAM TEAM.

This was the best author Tour I have ever been on – every school was a highlight and STORYLINES made sure we had comfy beds, full tummies, good coffee, yummy meals and quiet times.

So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the Storylines crew, the authors and all the schools that made this a memorable week.

 

t h e  v e r y  f a b u l o u s  S t o r y l i n e s  T o u r

 

Here is my tour – I didn’t keep a diary so this is from memory. After the first day I wrote the poems down when we were making them up but I can’t read all the words now as I was writing so FAST. Do let me know if I got your poem wrong. And a thousand apologies to the first schools because I have not got copies of the poems we made up together.

BTW all the words come from the students – none from me. I just ask questions!

I loved reading from my brand new book Groovy Fish (Cuba Press).

 

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I have three secret poetry challenges in my blog and some copies of Groovy Fish to give away. DEADLINE is FRIDAY so be in QUICK!!

 

 

 

my top poetry tips for Y0 to Y13 and beyond

 

use your EARS – listen to the music your poem makes

use your EYES – gather bits of the physical world for your poem

poems can FEEL the world – heart

poems can THINK the world – mind

poems are freedom to play with words and subjects in any way you like

 

 

 

Day One

 

 

 

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First stop for Eileen and me is Ward School –  we got to see the whole school (45) from NE to Y6. Such a warm welcome to start our journey but I am so sad because I didn’t write the poems down. The room was full of bounding imaginations and glittery words firing. Eileen talked about becoming a doctor and a writer – even when she had hurdles  in her path. And about how she felt something something was missing in her life when she had grown up – writing stories.

And now she does it all the time. Even when she is on a really really busy Storylines Tour! I loved how she talked about making characters glow in a story.

 

My turn to do poetry! I am wondering what I am saying in this photo? Maybe there are poems hiding in the ceiling or in the clouds! I am wearing my AROHA T shirt on the first day because I LOVE writing poems.

 

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Next up Kaikoura High School and a group of Y8 to Y10s. I got to have scrumptious egg sandwiches with the librarian and English teachers and talk about poetry and Wild Honey. Oh and crisp Nelson apples (my uncles were Māpua orchardists!)

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I read my poem ‘The First School Journal Ever‘ from The Baker’s Thumbprint (Seraph Press) and talked about the way School Journal stories took me back in time, across the world and around home. I LOVED reading them. They made me want to write.

We made up a poem about childhood with crunching crayfish, digging in the sand with diggers, the taste of play dough, the smell of hot sausages, being adopted and much much more. It was a cool poem. The poetry energy in the room inspired me to make up my own poem in the van.

 

When I Was Five

 

I started writing poems when I was five

with the Matāpouri ocean and the giraffe clouds

and the sticky fat crayons and red hot tomato soup

and the crunchy Māpua apples and the leaning

tower of library books that

got my words

flipping and floating and flying.

 

Paula Green

 

I loved exploring Kaikoura: the knobbled white rocks bright against the brilliant blue sea.

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After talking to the fabulous Kaikoura High School students I got to crunch on crayfish and it was so YUM!

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Vasanti, me, Eileen, Philippa and Libby on the way to dinner in the biting wind that soon switched off in the toasty sun.

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Nearly crayfish time! Thank you Kaikoura for filling me with poetry and delicious food.

 

Day Two

We drove over the windy inland road with the bumpy hills and the elbow bends

and I nearly threw up until I breathed in the sweet air next to the braided river.

As we twisted and turned I wanted to breathe in the hills and the sky and the

rushing water because every way I looked I saw beauty.

 

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Vasanti and I got to spend time with Y1 to Y6 at Waiau School and the Principal played the guitar and students stood and sang a magnificent waiata as a thank you.

Vasanti had drawn pictures to tell her story about becoming an author and it is so so good I want her to make it into a book. She talked about how she felt uncool as a girl but how she now feels really cool. I especially loved the illustration of her four older sisters and her one younger brother standing in a line wearing the clothes their mother had made them. Her mother had run out of the orange material by the time she got to Vana so Vana had to have blue in her dress as well as orange which felt very uncool.

I had such fun when the children and I sent words whizzing and whirling and we made up a cat poem:

 

A Cat Poem

 

I am a fat fat cat

I am cute cute cat

I am pretty kitty cat

I am a sleepy sleepy cat

I’m a cat with a hat

I’m a cat with a bat

I’m a cat with a cap

I like to chase rats

I’m a fat flash cat

eating dog biscuits!

 

Waiau School

 

(PS Our greedy cat would eat dog biscuits if we let her because she thinks she’s a dog I am sure – see The Letterbox Cat)

 

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Next Amuri Area School with Eileen. I had Y0 to Y6 and had a cracking good time reading Groovy Fish poems. We made up another cat poem because I love making up cat poems and they are never exactly the same. I love the way poem endings can make you laugh or cry, or ponder or puzzle, or have a twist in their tail!

 

Another Cat Poem

 

Black cat

scruffy cat

dusty cat

Meow!

 

I’m a fat fat cat

I’m a doctor cat

I’m a skinny cat

I’m a driver cat

 

I’m a silly crazy cat

I’m a mouse-eating cat

I’m a wide and racing cat

I”M A DOG!!

 

Amuri Area School

 

We read my Shabby Dinosaur poem from Groovy Fish and heard all the things that make him as full as a bull with happiness. Happy poems make me shine inside so I once did a happy-poem challenge on the blog.Here are some of my favourite happy poems from the challenge.

Amuri Area School was a very happy school and we made up this poem about what makes us happy. I felt shiny inside!

 

Happiness

 

All my kittens

going to the circus

dogs

drawing

playing rugby

wild cats

eating potatoes

a cute little bunny

going home after school.

 

Amuri Area School

 

 

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At the end of a long and marvelous day we drove through the darkening hills towards the slate grey sky and I was as happy as the shabby dinosaur – filled to the brim with poems. My favourite and most frequent question so far:

 

 Why do you write poetry Paula?

Because poems can do anything, there are no rules, and poetry makes me happy.

 

 

Day 3

 

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We stayed the night in Amberley and I wandered down by myself to the excellent Little Vintage Espresso to have poached eggs on toast and coffee in a small cup!

 

Eggs for Breakfast

 

Make the most of poached eggs on toast

when you are driving from the coast

 

with a little yellow sun in your tummy

that shines all day

 

Paula Green

 

 

 

First stop Waipara School (45 students). The older children were on camp and the younger children were at Sports Day so I had the seven Year 5s. How special was that? It was even more special because Toby had the library copy of The Letterbox Cat at home so I read some of his favourite poems. We made up a bunch of poems using our ears and eyes.

 

Panda

 

Black and white

like the night

like the moon

furry black

furry white

hunting for bamboo

eating and sleeping.

 

Waipara School

 

We read my ‘anifable‘ poem from The Letterbox Cat where you make up new animals mixing half of one with half of another and then deciding what they like to do.

 

Anifables

 

The snalion is

slithery and loud.

The panduin is

cold and hungry.

 

The hipmouse is

wrinkly and small.

The hippocat is

greedy and grey.

 

The rhiger is

ferocious and fast.

The butterfish is

flappy and scaly.

 

Waipara School

 

I especially loved the cat paintings on the wall of the classroom.

 

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Back on the road and Philippa, Libby and I stopped at Rangiora Public Library because Rangiora Borough School sent fifty Y5 and 6 students to hear us. I was fascinated by Philippa’s wonderful scrapbook with her girlhood stories and successes. I was even more fascinated by the fact she has been to Antarctica and written a book about it. Now that I am home I am going shopping for her books. Her writing makes me spellbound!

We were welcomed by a dog and next by the fabulous librarian and poet Jason Clements (Doc Drumheller) with a nourishing lunch.

 

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Once again the room filled like a poetry ocean: swishing words, wavy words, sweet and salty words. Here is the cat poem we made up.

 

Cat

 

I’m a flat flat cat

I’m a ratty tatty cat

 

I’m a flying aeroplane cat

I’m a tree climbing cat

 

I’m a black sack cat

I’m a black jack cat

 

I’m a fluffy wuffy cat

I’m a click clack cat

 

ust kidding – I’m a dog!

 

Rangiora Borough School

 

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On the road and Anne and I are at Leithfield School with fifty Y5 and 6 students. Yummo egg sandwiches with peppermint tea (I have a bag full of tea choices) and I am good to go. And even a dog is joining in the poetry session.

 

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Anne took a whole load of photos of me getting expressive with poetry.

 

 

The students were like a bubbling South Island river of words. What fun we had!

I was in the mood to make up a moon poem. This was the children came up with:

 

Moon

 

The big bright moon

the big round moon

the big fat moon

 

cheesy cheesy moon

shiny dimpled moon

rough bumpy moon

 

big chungous moon

a glowing ball of silver

massive pearl in the sky

shining light upon us

 

Leithfield School

 

I had seen signs for a beach but I never saw the sea so I got the children to show me their beach in a poem:

 

Leithfield Beach

 

Roaring waves

wet and stony

salty water

 

the mouldy pipe

deep dark edge

handful of stones

teaspoon of salt

 

sparkling blue water

different shades of navy

seashells everywhere

musky driftwood

 

dribbles of pebbles

crooked car park

wet and wild

 

Leithfield School

 

Back in the van to drive to Christchurch – the sky looks dangerous as the lightning flashes and forks – big black clouds dropping fat drops of rain (like in Bill Nagelkerke‘s poem). We are driving into a storm but the motel is cosy and dry.  I lie on the bed and turn on my inner sleep mode like I am a computer.

We had an evening event at Burnside High School to share stories and poetry with anyone who loves children’s literature.

I read the poem I wrote for the Prime Minister’s baby – I had never read it aloud before in front of an audience but I did record it for my blog.

I also got everyone to think about the power and magic of stories and where they were carried us as a child. We made up a poem together:

 

Stories

 

Stories lead us to hills that open

so we can walk inside

to where the sidewalk ends

to Narnia in the back of my parents’ wardrobe

to African rainforests

to the cherry tree in the garden

to the dusty attic

to camels in the desert

to the bathing shed on the wharf

to the moon and the stars

to our back lawns.

 

A bunch of children’s literature fans

 

 

Day 4

 

 

 

A city school after all the little country schools! First yummo date scone and coffee from my favourite cafe Little Poms.

I got to go to St Albans Primary to spend poetry time with nearly 400 children (Y1 to Y4, I think I had the biggest and the smallest group of tour!).

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It is always exciting to do poetry in a hall FULL of children because I never know what will happen. I always do my silent test – we are all one-hundred-per-cent silent – listening to sounds outside. You never know what you might hear: a train, birds, crickets, cars, sheep, the wind in the trees, the rain, thunder, a siren, chat chatting voices, laughter.

Levi sent me a cool travel poem he had written after my visit and now I am inspired by him to write a travel poem!

We had such a cool poetry time but I was so excited writing down our poems I can only read one of them (see the happy poem below). The rest is too-fast scribble! I am SAD!!

We made up a mysterious poem about the wild wild wind but I can’t read my writing and it seems to have chocolate milk, a fox, a chicken, a super sheep and something lovely in it! It is a mystery poem! So I am going to challenge you to write one instead!

 

A BONUS POETRY BOX CHALLENGE: Y1 to Y8  You have to write a poem with at least three of these things in and I will post them on Poetry Box on Monday morning (December 2nd).

the wild wild wind, chocolate milk, a fox, a chicken, a super sheep and something lovely

Deadline: Friday 29th November

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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

DON’T FORGET to put BONUS POEM in subject line

 

HOWEVER I could read the wonderful happy poem we made up. I felt like I was glowing with all the happy ideas, the warm mihi, and the sizzling poetry.

Poems can have one word on a line or right to the edge of the page. It changes the way a poem looks and it changes the music. Have fun playing with that.

 

Happiness

 

Watching the bird

making a nest in the tree

my fluffy grey dog

my cute little puppy

stargazing

watching the trees sway

watching my fish playing together

I love playing with my friend.

 

St Albans Primary

 

BACK on the road again to the second school of the day,  Darfield Primary. All the bends and elbows in the roads have disappeared and the roads are long and straight. There is always something fascinating to see out the window as though little poems are hiding in the paddocks, the mountains and the sky.

 

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Vasanti and I got to present to 84 Y5 and 6s (although maybe it was a bit less). We both loved the artwork on the classroom walls. I loved hearing Vana’s story again.

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Somehow we seem to make up sea-related poems. We made up a whale poem with only two words on the line. Try saying it out out loud!

 

The Whale

 

Splish splash

belly flop

clever clap

slimy smooth

big fat

really fast

super song

zig zag

I’m really a SUBMARINE!

 

Darfield Primary

 

We made up a penguin poem (we had a vote on which bird) and ended up with short snappy lines again!

 

The Little Blue Penguin

 

Flip flop

in the water

slide on ice

splish splash

a little furry

blue black shiny

tiny flightless

 

I am a penguin

living in Aotearoa

I’m an old surfer dude!

 

Darfield Primary

 

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Darfield Primary School had my favourite tree. It deserves a poem!

 

A SECOND BONUS POETRY BOX CHALLENGE: Y1 to Y8  Write a a poem inspired by this tree and I will post some on Poetry Box on Monday morning (December 2nd).

Deadline: Friday 29th November

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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

DON’T FORGET to put TREE POEM in subject line

 

 

Back on the road again and I soon I am eating a scrumptious filled roll with the super librarians at Ashburton College Library in the actual library. Woohoo!

I spent time with a fabulous bunch of Y9 and 10 who had chosen to come to the session. The students listened intently and contributed widely (one has already sent me a magnificent poem that I loved so much!). I love the fact so many students joined in at all the schools I visited. Inspiring!

 

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With mountains on my mind and in the corner of every view it was time to make up a wee mountain poem. Little poems can be magnificent.

 

The Mountain

 

I’m a tall strong mountain

sky high

big bold

snowy rugged

jutting crippled

shadowed dark

 

Ashburton College Library

 

Then it was back to childhood – to the things that stand out in memory. It made me want to make up my own childhood poem. This was the students came up with:

 

Childhood

 

Sweet peaches sweet cherries

fairy bread cotton candy

familiar smell of sausages

grandparent’s cookies

sticky rice

 

Back home where the kookaburra sing

playing on the swing set

climbing the orchid tree

making daisy chains

running out into the farm playing

my guitar under the tree

 

Down the river

to the ocean

running through grass

do it all again

I’ll remember

 

Imagine

 

Ashburton College Library

 

We headed off to Timaru for our last night and our last events on Friday. We stopped off at a veggie place and stocked up on:

 

On the road

 

We got

the plumpest sweetest

tasting blueberries

in the world

juicy juicy strawberries

and pale green avocados

from the veggie man

 

and he thought

we were Australian spies

with our dark shades on

but we were busy

imagining

how to make stories

sweet and sour and crisp.

 

Paula Green

 

Next stop Temuka poettry (my pick) because I LOVE pottery (which is almost like poetry) so I bought a few plates to carry on the plane. As soon as I got home I made a homemade basil pesto, roast veggie, pasta salad to put on it. YUM!

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Day 5  (the last day!)

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Vasanti, Eileen, Libby, me in Timaru

 

Every morning before we headed off most of us got a good strong coffee. We loved the sign in this cafe and I loved a sign with one word hiding. One of my favourite questions at schools was:

Where do you get your ideas from Paula?

From what I see, hear, feel, think, taste, imagine!

 

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I got Anne to take a photo because this was a poem in the waiting!

 

Keep Calm and Carry

 

One shiny moon

two shimmering oceans

three daring stilt walkers

four hot-air balloons

five tūī singing

six date scones warm and buttery

seven seals gliding

eight clouds drifting

nine plump peaches

ten fascinating questions

 

in your acrobatic mind

as you watch the sun rise

on the shiny green paddock.

 

Paula Green

 

A THIRD BONUS POETRY BOX CHALLENGE: Y1 to Y8  Write a a poem using my title Keep Calm and Carry. 

It can be as short or as long as you like – let your imagination go dancing. Make up your own pattern. Play with how many words go on the line. LISTEN to every line.

and I will post some on Poetry Box on Monday morning (December 2nd).

 

Deadline: Friday 29th November

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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

DON’T FORGET to put CALM POEM in subject line

 

 

 

We spent our last night in Timaru. Just one visit in Timaru before heading back to Christchurch and I got to go to Grantlea Downs School and do poetry with the whole school (Y1 to 8) in the hall.

 

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The artwork in the foyer was fabulous!

 

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I sat in the school waiting for it to fill to the brim. I was wearing my map-of-the-moon T shirt and wearing black so I was dressed like the moon in the night sky.

I told the school they were like one big whanau so I  let the youngest members of the family (NE and Y1) make up a moon poem with me before we did anything else.

They stood in line and stood up like poets, and used loud poet’s voices and let their words sail out of the hall to land in the trees. I asked them to pick one moon word but some picked lots and they didn’t matter a drop because poetry has no rules. Poetry is where we get to PLAY! and have FUN!

 

The Moon

 

A blue moon

looks like the sun moon

shining star

black

orange and bright

tells us it’s night

spinning sparkling

bright MOON!

 

Grantlea Downs School

 

Then I got to walk down the stage right into the audience! WOW! That was fun. Everyone joined in and was bubbling over with poems.  A fountain of poems! A waterfall of poems! A bright sky of poems! Timaru had had a big hail storm with hail the size of golf balls. It had been so windy we made up a windy windy poem.

 

The Wind

 

The strong wind

the powerful wind

the wispy wind

 

the wind blows

the winds breaks the bush

the wind comes and goes

 

wishing wind

flushing wind

the wind was furious

 

Grantlea Downs School

 

Oh I was sad to leave the school because it was my last session and now it was time to head back home.

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We stopped off at a cool cafe in Ashburton called Nosh and I had yummy yummy sushi. I had seen a place in one town called Secret Japanese Food and I wanted to write a poem about sushi with little secrets in  it.

 

Secret Sushi

 

In my sushi you will discover

the story of a hedgehog and a goat

a trapdoor to the moon

sparkling oceans

a map of the sky

and a secret letter from a secret owl.

 

Paula Green

 

Now it was time drive home past the grey rivers running and over the long bridges stretching and the green paddocks glistening to Christchurch to get my plane home.

 

This was the best author tour I have ever done because I loved every single school visit and I loved the other inspirational authors and I loved the way Storylines looked after us when we all worked so hard and when there was a truck load (van load) of travelling.

Thank you to every school I visited.  You have inspired me.

 

Back home to the bush and the ocean and the quiet (and our cats and Molly our dog).

 

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Poetry Box feature: Lily and Rose (8) interview Bill Nagelkerke

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 Way back then

 

My best friend’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother,

And my best friend’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Brother,

Rode scooters

In their youth:

Ninety years

(Or so)

Ago.

 

My best friend

Brought a photo

Of her

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother,

 

 

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And her

Mother’s

Mother’s

Mother’s

Brother,

To show the class

That it was true.

Who knew

That kids had scooters,

Way back then?

 

 

from The night the moon fell down and other poems (Copy Press, 2019)

 

Bill Nagelkerke has a book of poems for children out – so Lily and Rose agreed to interview him.

You can find my review of the book here.

 

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The interview:

 

Did you always like writing at school or did you only start liking writing when you were an adult?

I started off by enjoying stories that were read to me and then stories I was able to read by myself – as well as stories I watched on TV. That led to me wanting to write my own stories, which I did when was about your age. I made them into little books, which I still have!. The first story I had published – and was paid for! – was when I was at high school. It appeared in a local paper.

 

Do you like writing poetry or novels best?

I like all kinds of writing but I think poetry can sometimes be the most difficult, because usually you don’t have very many words to work with and they have to be just the right ones.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

An elephant, perhaps. They have good memories and are thought to be very wise. They still get a very tough time though.

 

What are your 5 favourite books you’ve written and why?

My favourite book will always be the next one because I always hope it will be better than the last. But I do like the two short books I’ve written about Emily, a nine year old who loves to write. (Emily’s Penny Dreadful and Emily, the Dreadfuls and the Dead Skin Gang), as well as the stories about two brothers, Patrick and Pete, which you can find in a collection of stories called Egghead, and other surprises. A story called Old bones is also special because it’s set in a place where I used to live. A new book is due out next year, called The ghosts on the hill and its one I really enjoyed writing because it takes place in one of my favourite locations. (See question 6)

 

In the poem book you gave us, Lily’s favourite poem is the shoelace poem because of the words and she likes the shape poems especially the one about the moon, because it’s clever how it reflects. Rose’s favourite poem is about a mother and she likes the pictures throughout the book. Which is your favourite poem in this collection Bill?

That’s tough question . . . I like the poems that you’ve both picked and the reasons you’ve picked them. I’m also quite fond of the one called ‘Way back then’ – about the fact that children already had scooters nearly 100 years ago – because it was inspired by an old family photo. It’s so hard to choose, though. One day’s favourite might have to change places with another day’s favourite!

 

Have you visited any other countries? If yes, do you have a favourite place (in NZ or overseas)?

I’ve been to a few other places. I have lots and lots of cousins in the Netherlands, as well. One of my favourite places, though, has always been the Port Hills of Christchurch. (See Question 4)

 

What is your favourite colour and why?

Yellow. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because it’s such a cheerful colour.

 

What are you curious about?

Everything. There’s so much to be curious about!

 

Do you have any pets?

No, I don’t.

 

What is your favourite thing in the world?

Kindness.

 

Have your friends ever told you that they don’t like your writing? If yes, what did you do about this?

No, I don’t think they have. In fact, I’m probably my own worst critic. 🙂

 

 

A former children’s librarian, Bill Nagelkerke has written short stories, poems, plays and books for all ages, as well as translating other people’s books from Dutch into English. In 2013 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy.

Lily is 8 years old and has a twin sister called Rose. She is an animal lover and especially loves crocodiles. Her favourite kind of books to read are chapter books. She is a keen writer, and co-wrote wrote her own chapter book this year with her mum about a heroic Crocodile called “Agent C” who tries to solve problems in his community. Lily’s favourite subject at school is art. In her spare time she likes doing Gymnastics and is working on a dance called “Masterpiece”. Lily was once in a Lifeline TV commercial to raise money for this charity and thinks the most important thing in life is love. Her favourite food is doughnuts.

Rose is 8 years old too and….surprise! She has a twin sister called Lily. Rose’s favourite celebrity is Steve Irwin and she loves all animals, especially otters. Her favourite things to do at school are learning maths and class bike riding sessions. Rose’s favourite foods are carrots and raspberries. In her spare time, Rose takes drama classes and is starting as a chip eater in an end-of-year Harry Potter themed production. Rose likes to read books about brave and courageous NZ leaders and adventures (the Oh Boy and Go Girl series). She thinks the most important thing in life is to be a problem solver.

 

Poetry Box review: Gavin Bishop’s glorious Wildlife of Aotearoa

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Wildlife of Aotearoa Gavin Bishop, Puffin (Penguin Random House) 2019

 

Gavin Bishop, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator with over 60  books to his name. His honours and awards include the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for services to New Zealand children’s literature and the Te Waka Toi Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka/Sir Kingi Ihaka Award for services to Māori Art and Culture. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for Illustration was established in 2009 and in 2013 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In 2019 Gavin was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-fiction.

 

Last year, Gavin’s sumptuous and significant Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story won the supreme Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction. Wildlife of Aotearoa is a companion to this book, and it is equally sumptuous and equally significant.

Under their Puffin imprint, Penguin Random House has produced a large hardback book with the look and feel of a book-treasure, a taonga.

 

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First up are the heavenly illustrations – I make my way through the story they tell in wash and ink. Animated gulls, whales, penguins lead to moa, kea and kiwi; you will find red deer, border collies, domestic cats and cows. Each creature appears with a fascinating fact and where possible the name in te reo. Significant!

I especially love the whale page. The blue whale pakake nui is the largest animal that has ever lived and can grow up to 33 metres long. Try measuring that out!

 

Each page is like an extremely powerful magnet that holds your eyes because you can’t stop looking and reading. I love the colour-washed backgrounds that might be ocean depths or night sky or forest shades. I love the textures, the movement and the expressions of all the animals. I love the sentences so perfectly crafted.

I also love the way wildlife is everywhere – Gavin shows us wildlife in oceans, rivers, the bush and the sky but he also shows us wildlife in cities. There is one page devoted to the wildlife in a house. Fascinating!

 

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Another page shows a catalogue of 25 animals that became well known: for example Shrek the sheep, Janie the chimpanzee, Woofwoof the tūī. Extremely fascinating!

 

Making a book is always a journey for the maker, a thing of discovery – Gavin has structured the book so it is a journey of discovery for the reader. Yes it is a catalogue of our wildlife beginning in the ocean, ‘Tangaroa’s water world’, and moving through land and sky. You will find yourself in a museum looking at old bones, or peeking into the pitch of night or the sweet pink of dawn. You never know what the next page will bring.

Gavin shows us the native animals and the new settlers. I love the way the book makes me think hard about things. The landscape and the wildlife of Aotearoa has changed drastically since the arrival of the colonists:

 

With European settlement, land changes that were started by early Māori happened much more quickly, and 80 per cent of Aotearoa’s original bush has since been cleared. Many colonists worked hard to transform the “strange” landscape as quickly as possible by introducing foreign plants and animals to make it look more like “home”. A new and hungry breed of wildlife was released, or escaped, into the countryside. Humans, rats, cats, stoats, and possums killed off about 45 per cent of the native bird species of Aotearoa.

We are at a wildlife crisis point in Aotearoa so this sumptuous utterly gorgeous book is necessary reading. You will find animals that are thriving, endangered animals and animals no longer with us. And that makes me both sad and glad.

You will find tricky questions that people are fighting hard to solve. We can’t swim or fish in many of our waterways because more than half are polluted. Farmers work hard to make a living and feed people who eat meat but some farms may not survive as we try and deal with climate change. There is a growing movement of young people wanting to save the planet. Laws will be passed, we will be educated on what we can do to help protect our wildlife, our waterways, our bush and our skies. People have worked hard to create predator-free sanctuaries for birds and sealife under threat.

A book like this brings our wildlife so much closer into view and that matters. This is a book to share and talk about. This is a book to leap and think and write and draw from.

Gavin has worked hard on this stunning book and his mahi and aroha shows. It is a labour of love that comes out of a love of drawing and writing, and a love of Aotearoa. This book deserves a place on a bookshelf in every school library and every home.

 

To celebrate I have designed my final poetry challenge of the year, November’s challenge around this book.

 

Penguin Random House author page

 

Poetry Box: Dear Joy Cowley letters, aroha nui from us all

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To celebrate the arrival of  Joy Cowley’s magnificent new book of poems and stories published by Gecko Press (with zany illustrations by Giselle Clarkson), I invited a few people to join me in writing letters to Joy – two children, a parent and an author.

Here is my review of the book.

 

Joy can listen to me read the letters:

 

 

Dear Joy Cowley

For a long time I have wanted to see your poetry for children back in print – so how delightful to see the gorgeous new edition of your stories and poems published by Gecko Press. Your poems fill me with happiness – they are playful and have such an elastic imagination and fine ear at work children adore them.

I have always loved your commitment to writing for children – not just in the glorious stories and poems you write but in your engagement with children. I am thinking of the letters you write them, the way you pay attention to their dreams and experiences, the support you give the fabulous Storylines and the ongoing support you give writers.

To be a writer is a very private thing but it is also a public thing – and you have shown how to inhabit the world with generosity, kindness and empathy. This matters.

Like so many other people, I have had a long history of reading your work, by myself and with my daughters, and it has enriched our lives with wisdom, humour and humaneness.

To celebrate the arrival of your wonderful new book I have invited a few others to write to you too – some children, a parent and an author.

Ngā mihi

Paula Green

 

Dear Joy,

Your poems are incredible, fascinating and full of fun! Every word on the page jumps like a tiger and soars like an eagle! I used to read your poems when I was younger, they helped me through a tough time. When I felt the weight of the world, your poems lifted me back up. I’m so grateful that there are amazing people like you creating stories and poems that brighten people’s days. I hope, aspire, and dream to be able to make poems like yours one day.

Thank you

from Gabbie, age 12,  Newlands intermediate

 

 

Dear Joy

I am writing to you with a big thank you for the amazing stories you have created for every kind of reader.

In a teaching setting, I use your stories no matter what age group I am working with.  I love starting the youngest ones on a path to a love of reading with the wonderful characters in the Mrs. Wishy Washy books.  My older, often struggling, readers always draw affinity with dear Greedy Cat (who is not so secretly my favourite of your characters).  And I can sit back and enjoy reading aloud the likes of Dunger and Speed of Light to my Year 7/8 groups.  Indeed, if a Joy Cowley book comes out in any class, everyone smiles.

At home, our bookshelves are lined with your work, as my children will always share that you are their favourite author.  The reason?  Because of your style, your imagination, but most of all because you have always been there.  They have grown up with, and through, your stories.  You have inspired their own writing, and presented opportunities for them to explore and develop that.  Each child has a copy of Just One More right beside their bed, ready for those times when they just want to wind down with a familiar favourite.

And for me personally, when I read about you, I am filled with admiration.  Your amazing life of flying planes, motorbike riding, woodturning and more is so inspiring… so many adventures to be had!  Amongst all that, you have given us all adventures of our own, through your writing.   You accept challenges for what they are, and get on with the doing.  And somehow, you have always had time for everyone, replying to fan mail, participating in local events, and helping young writers on their way.

You are a truly astonishing person, and I am so grateful for all you do.  I can’t wait to read “Silence” once it is published.  The kids are not the only ones who seek out Joy Cowley books!

Warm regards

Robyn Lovewell, Wellington

 

Dear Joy

I am writing to say how much I appreciate you and your wonderful stories!

I honestly don’t know which is my favorite, there are so many.  Snake and LizardThe Wild West GangHero of The HillBow Down Shadrach? But the book that lives by my bed is Just One More, which I still read all the time…with dragons in libraries and horses on escalators and then of course Jack and his hole that follows him around – that one makes me laugh even when I tell other people the story.

There is a good reason why you are so famous and probably NZ’s favourite author.  Your junior books always have funny bits in them.  Your older kids fiction books always have something to make you think.  And you have such a variety of books, long stories, short readers, poems, little kid books, grown up books.  There is something for everyone in what you have written.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like a Joy Cowley book.

I hope that more stories can jump out of your head so there will be even more Joy Cowley books to fill up the C shelf at the library.

Thank you for being such an awesome writer.

From

Daniel L, Year 6, Adventure School, Wellington

 

Dear Joy

When Beth and I dropped in to see you a few years back, you gave us an excellent lunch; spilled a bit on yourself and said “Oh, Great!”; showed us the glowing wood work you were doing in your workshop, talked about kindness and spirituality, mentioned mutual friends with affection, and asked after MY writing.

I thought this was so typical of you – generous, wry, adventurous and versatile, sincere, always aware of others. Many people will talk about your writing, which I admire just this side idolatry, but I wanted to mention you. You are a joy to know. Every time I meet you, I go away feeling affirmed and loved. Live for ever!!

David Hill

 

 

Poetry Box review festival and POP-Up challenge 5: Matthew Cunningham and Sarah Wilkin’s Abigail and the Birth of the Sun

 

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Abigail and the Birth of the Sun, Matthew Cunningham with illustrations by Sarah Wilkins,  Puffin (Penguin Random House)

 

Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!

 

FRIDAY review

 

I really love the start to this book:

 

As Abigail got ready for bed,

she thought of a big question.

It was so big she couldn’t think about anything else.

 

It was such a big and important question Abigail thought about it whatever she was doing. She was so worried the big question would keep her awake she decided to ask her dad. And when she asked him where the planets and the sun came from he told her they came from stardust just as she did.

Her dad pulled the curtains and they gazed at the night sky (and so did the sleek black cat!). As they gazed into the mysterious black with its planets and stars gleaming he tells Abigail about the birth of the sun.

I really like the way the story is based on facts but the characters in the story (the big old star, the cloud of stardust, the new Sun, a family of planets) have feelings. This is the story of how our solar system came into being – told simply and eloquently.

What stands out in the writing and the illustrations is both a sense of wonder and wondrous things happening. Things that you can put into words but things that are greater than words.

I think Matthew and Sarah must have had such fun working on this because one of the main ingredients in the ink and paint (I am not sure how they wrote or drew but you get what I mean) is love. A love of writing and love of painting and drawing. It shows.

I loved the middle bit – the bright drawings with little fascinations – and the tenderly crafted story with an equal dose of fascinations.

But I especially love the ending because it brings me right back to the way curiosity is such an important part of being human, and how curious questions can make a dad and his daughter share in the wonder of things:

 

“Daddy,” asked Abigail,

“if I am made of stardust,

does that mean I can shine

like a star too?”

Daddy smiled.

“You will shine brighter than

all of the stars in the sky.”

 

Abigail falls into a sweet sleep but by morning she as a new question – let’s hope there will be a sequel.

Ah, I feel like I have filled with gleam and good feelings reading this beautifully-produced book. I just love it.

 

Matthew lives with his wife and daughter Abigail in Wellington. He is an historian with a Doctor of Philosophy, and he has published all kinds of history writing. This is his first picture book for children. At kindergarten he wrote ‘The Clock’ but he didn’t know how to follow lines and said it looked more like alphabet soup.

Sarah was the middle child of seven who dreamed of being an explorer. She loved dreaming and drawing so she became an illustrator, an award-winning illustrator (because illustrating involves dreaming and drawing!). She lives in Wellington.

 

 

FRIDAY POP-UP challenge:

 

Let’s write sun poems.

1   Hunt for sun words and similes. Draw a sun and fill it with the collected words!

2   How many sun verbs can you find?

3    Do a test pot of similes – which surprises you?

4    Do you know or can find any fascinating sun facts?

5.   Use your senses as you get curious. What makes you curious about the sun?

6.   How does your poem sound as you read it?

7    Do you need to make up a word?

8    How will you set your sun poem out?

 

 

Deadline: 28th October 9 am

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

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

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 28th October. I will have at least one secret give away!

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box review festival and POP-UP challenge 4: Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait’s The Adventures of Tupaia

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The Adventures of Tupaia Courtney Sina Meredith with illustrations by Mat Tait,

Allen & Unwin  – author page

 

Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!

 

THURSDAY review

Tupaia was the incredible Tahitian priest navigator who sailed on the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first journey to Aotearoa.

Allen & Unwin worked with Auckland Museum to publish this magnificent book to accompany the museum’s exhibition: Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour

The exhibition is on from 13 September 2019 until 15 March 2020 at Auckland Museum.

 

The book is a significant arrival because it brings into view stories from our past, and the important role Tupaia played in the first encounters between Aotearoa’s tangata whenua and Cook and his crew. Tupaia was a navigator but he was also a translator, a cultural interpreter and an artist.

It is important that our stories are seen from multiple views (not just those of Pākehā) and that they are also written and reviewed by Māori and Pasifika writers.

This big beautiful large format hard-back book is a tribute to an astonishing man. Courtney Sina Meredith, a poet and fiction writer, has brought both poems and prose together to tell the story, and that choice adds to the richness of the book. Mat Tait, a comic artist, has added stunning visual images to add layers to the story. It is a book of multiple beliefs, customs, discoveries, relationships.

When the Endeavour arrived in Tahiti, the ship’s artist, Sydney Parkinson, taught Tupaia to paint with paper and paint, while Tupaia taught Sydney the traditions and language of Tahiti. With his impressive grasp of English and his many talents, Tupaia was invited to help navigate on the voyage south, along with his young apprentice Taiata.

History can be facts and history can be imagined, history can also be smudged facts and misused facts and overlooked stories.  This book is one step in fixing our missing stories. Courtney gets me to feel history. And when I feel history I think about history.

 

The Endeavour rocked gently as she sailed south. After exploring local waters, the ship had left the tropical lushness of the islands behind, the crew firing a cannon on departure. The thunderous explosion had rung about the hills as Tupaia looked back to shore with both excitement and sorrow. The priest navigator had no way of knowing if he would ever return to his home.

 

Courtney and Mat help me picture Tupaia breathing in ocean air with his arms outstretched, feeling the wind against him. He was breathing in and feeling knowledge on his skin, listening to the stars chanting. Tupaia told Cook and Joseph Banks (the botanist) that he and his people understood time and space differently.  He read the ocean and he read the stars. He shared scared knowledge that should have remained with his society because he loved sea travel so much. We hear Cook say how his King might like to claim the empty islands.

Ah, this is such a deep and difficult pang.

With rich graphic illustrations, Mat shows us Tupaia’s arrival in Aotearoa: scenes, people, objects, marae, warriors, hongi, muskets, life, death, peace, violence, the sky. Each page holds my attention and each page moves me. The illustrations track the places the ship stopped at. Courtney’s prose and poetry unfolds people and places, communications and miscommunications. The writing is like song – singing the past into life for our ears and hearts. Yet this is also a book of important ideas – how we write the past, how we must listen to multiple stories and understand there are multiple ways of doing things.

Ah, this book encourages me to pay attention.

It is the kind of book you need to spend time with, making discoveries, finding new ways to see things.

I haven’t felt a book to such depths for a long time. I am hoping every child gets to read this book and love and learn from Tupaia and his travels as much as I have. An essential book. A magnificent book in debt to mahi and aroha.

 

 

THURSDAY POP-UP challenge:

 

This is a tricky challenge for me because it feels like you need to read the book and you need to talk about the book with friends and family, and your class.  And then the book will open up inside of you.

To write a poem about Tupaia without having made discoveries about him feels wrong.

Pākehā have done too much of this!

So I am going to give you a few choices.

 

1  If you have read or have heard about Tupaia make a poem that makes a connection with him, that shows something about him and his travels.

2   Write a poem imagining what it might be like to travel across the ocean. Can you do a little research? Can you collect ocean words (nouns, verbs, adjective, similes). Collect navigating words, sky and star words? Use your senses to bring the ocean scene to life? Have you ever been out on the ocean? Use that experience.

 

 

Deadline: 26th October 9 am

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

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

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 26th October. I will have at least one secret give away! I will put names in the hat and pull one out.

Poetry Box review festival and POP-UP challenge 3: Ruth Paul’s Little Hector stories

 

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Penguin Random House page

 

Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!

 

WEDNESDAY review

Ruth Paul has published two books about Hector’s dolphins with Penguin Random House. She is a superb illustrator and is equally deft with words.

The first one – Little Hector and the Blue Whale – came out in 2018. Hector ‘is a small but daring dolphin’ who wants to follow the big dolphins but everyone says he is too small. His ears fill with so many warnings he might pop (he’s had enough!). So he ignores the advice and heads off into the big ocean where all kinds of scary things loom large. Poor Little Hector gets lost – luckily he finds a friend who won’t EAT him and who knows friends stick together when they are in tough spots! It’s a happy ending because Little Hector finds out the very best place for small dolphins to be.

This book is about a rare and special creature who lives in our seas and is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. We need to do everything we can to protect them.

Ruth’s gorgeous illustrations are full of such life, Little Hector catches my eye on every page. I can almost feel the texture of the skin and see him loop and dive as he skims through the water. Which means I get to care about Hector’s dolphins even more.

 

The second  one –  Little Hector and the Big Idea – came out this year and the illustrations are equally captivating. In this story, instead of coming across ocean treasures like shells and seaweed, Little Hector and his Bottlenose cousins come across junk. All the plastic waste and fishing nets that end up as danger spots for sea life! Fish might try to eat it (DISASTER) and get stuck in it (DOUBLE DISASTER).

I love the way Ruth tells a story that makes me care about the ocean even more, and all the creatures that live in it. I loved the picture of adults and children clearing all the junk off beaches because that’s what we do at Te Henga near where I live.

These two books are essential reading – Little Hector is a delightful character but I also get to learn as I read.

I am very excited there is a third book coming soon: Little Hector and the Mini Māui.

 

 

WEDNESDAY POP-UP challenge

 

Let’s do poems about Hector’s dolphins.

First: You might like to go hunting for some facts.

Second: You might like to go hunting for dolphin words (think of what they actually look like, some words for how they move in the sea, similes)

Third: Try making little lines using some of the words

Fourth: Use your lines to make a dolphin shape (a picture poem)

OR fifth: Write a dolphin weaving your collected words and a dolphin fact or two

Sixth: Your poem might even bring the plastic in the ocean problem

 

Does your poem make a picture of a dolphin grow in your head as you read it?

How does it sound as you read it aloud?

 

 

Deadline: 25th October 9 am

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

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

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 25th October. I will have at least one secret give away!