Category Archives: NZ children’s book

A poem from Peter Bland’s fabulous new collection for children




Peter Bland is one of my favourite local poets who writes for children. He has new book

The Happy Garden: New & Selected Poems for Children

Steele Roberts 2018

which I think should be in every school library and on every children’s bookshelf.

Peter writes with exactly the right ingredients: a trampoline imagination, a whizzing ear for rhyme, eye for things that surprise, sparkling humour. Peter’s poems are like little chemical reactions where things fizz and change and react and connect. Or little surprise parcels for us to open.

The Happy Garden does all these things and more! Peter has kindly given me permission to post a poem on my blog. Steele Roberts page.



The tiny tiny spider

A tiny tiny spider

is crossing the bathroom floor.

I leave him tiny tiny crumbs

he chooses to ignore.

The bathroom floor’s a desert.

I think the spider’s lost.

I think he thinks he’s a camel

and a desert has to be crossed.

Keep going, tiny spider

until you find a cave

in a crack in the tiles

or a hole in the wall

that’s cosy, warm and safe.


©Peter Bland





You might  like to check out my popUP

holiday poem challenge (deadline from Friday!!)

and my October poetry tree challenge


Librarian’s choice: Bee Trudgeon picks Baxter Basics


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Baxter Basics, Poems for Children by James K Baxter (Steele Roberts Publishers)


How wonderful it is, to have the line that will lead children along the road toward poetic Jerusalem inscribed by the master wordsmith latterly known as Hemi. The poems in this collection date from the early 50s, and were published as The Tree House in 1974. In 1979, Price Milburn produced the poems in separate Baxter Basics booklets in the PM Readalongs series. Steele Roberts brought them together in this modern compendium version in 2008.

What a wonderful way to preserve them, when one’s original school readers become the stuff of half-remembered dreaming. And what a gift to me, as a new librarian at Cannons Creek Library, looking for solid ways to turn kids on to reading and poetry. In a modern world, sometimes vintage turns out to be the most amazing flavour to taste. My familiarity with the poems and affection for the illustrations made it easy to pick up and enthusiastically share.
What do you love about it?

It reminds me of the excitement of learning to read in the days when I did – in the early 1970s. I love the way it introduces unmistakable rhyme schemes that have the kids punching the air to tell me they have noticed them. I love the way its economy of line has met the sort of playful typographic design that leads us to taking exactly the right size bites to best serve each line.
Which poems really hook you?

I like the balance and sway of “I’m A Tree” – ‘I’m a man out walking in the thick green bush; I can’t see the sun, So I push, push, push! / I’m a boy with a banjo, Clever as they come; I pick up my banjo and I strum, strum, strum!’ (And who wouldn’t want to be the boy with the banjo and the fans, as Lynley Dodd sees them.)
Speaking of the illustrations, Dodd’s fine work – along with that of Judith Trevelyan, Dawn Johnston, and Ernest Papps – hark nostalgia now, although only ‘The Firemen’ would have seemed vintage when first published. The renderings of home, town, bush/forest, beach/sea and sparse traffic in uncrowded cities combine with the words to make me feel like the world is my oyster, and that I can transport myself into any form of being from nature, to occupation, to location.
Have you seen children reading it?
This is probably my most-shared poetry book, and it is always well received. The offering of a first line or two is easily transformed by the invitation to turn Baxter’s observations into one’s own.
What three words sum up the book?
Vintage, transformative, classic. (I consider any book capable of turning us into poets via uncluttered example transformative!)
Can you think of a book it is similar to?
Margaret Mahy’s rhyme-alicious “My Wonderful Aunt” shared a similar publishing history, in that it was served up as a compendium of stories after years of being loved as individual readers. There is something quite special about honouring ‘the reader’ – seen so much as a tool by those doing the teaching, but with the capacity to lodge themselves very deeply into the psyches of those making reading revelations with them.


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Bee Trudgeon is the Porirua Children’s Librarian Kaitiaki Pukapuka Tamariki. She is a writer, strummer, storyteller, dancer in the dark, film buff, perpetual student, and the mother of a couple of big kids who still love bedtime stories. Often spotted urban long-distance walking wearing headphones and a ukulele, she lives in a haunted house in Cannons Creek, and works wherever there is an audience.


Check out the Poetry Box August challenge here





Poetry Box audio spot – Melinda Szymanik reading Fuzzy Doodle



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Fuzzy Doodle was published by Scholastic in 2016.


Note from Paula: I love this book so what a treat to hear Melinda read it.

You can hear other New Zealand children’s authors reading poems in my audio spots: look in the side bar under audio spot or for David Hill, Kyle Mewburn, Apirana Taylor, Fifi Colston, Elena de Roo, Janice Marriot, Bill Nagelkirke, Stephanie Mayne, Renee Liang and James Brown. You can also find Barbara Else reading her piece on Selina Tusitala Marsh, our Poet Laureate.



Find Melinda’s blog

Born in Auckland, Melinda Szymanik still lives there with her family, writing picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults. A science graduate, Melinda initially worked in hospital administration, then went back to university to study literature and began writing seriously when her children were small. Several of her books have been shortlisted or won awards in New Zealand and overseas, and her short stories have appeared in trade and educational publications in New Zealand and Australia.

She is a regular ‘writers in schools’ visitor, was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, and has appeared at writers festivals across New Zealand. She teaches creative writing workshops for adults and children, blogs on writing and is one of ten New Zealand writers who run an innovative online writing experiment for children called FABO Story.


Selected Bibliography

A complete list is available on her blog


Picture Books

The Were-Nana, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic NZ, 2008, (Out of Print).

The House That Went to Sea, illus. Gabriella Klepatski, Duck Creek Press, 2011.

While You Are Sleeping, illus. Greg Straight, Duck Creek Press, 2013.

The Song of Kauri, illus. Dominique Ford, Scholastic NZ, 2014.

Fuzzy Doodle, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ, 2016, Scholastic Asia, 2017.


Junior Novels

Jack the Viking, Scholastic NZ, 2008.

A Winter’s Day in 1939, Scholastic NZ, March 2013.

Poetry Box audio spot: Renee Liang’s Caterpillar

This is the perfect audio to go with our July butterfly challenge. Listen out for the butterfly song in te reo.









Note from Renee


Here’s a recording of me reading the poem to Ferndale Kindergarten followed by the kids singing ‘Purerehua‘, a song they love.

The ‘Caterpillar‘ poem is inspired by a Cantonese children’s rhyme we also practised (but I did not record): 

點蟲蟲, 蟲蟲飛。飛去邊﹖飛去荔枝畿。荔枝熟, 摘滿一包袱。

dim chung chung, chung chung fei. fei hoey bin? fei hoey lai ji gei. lai ji suk, jaak muun yat bao fuk. (Not proper Cantonese romanisation)

Almost word for word translation:

point insect insect, insect insect fly. fly to where? fly to lichee area. lichee ripe, pick (and fill up) full a haversack (bag).

Here are some pictures of their hands being butterflies and also a shot of my son Luka G (4) who attends the kindy. 






You can find Renee’s poem in A Treasury of NZ poems for Children

Renee Liang has always loved telling stories and making worlds in her head. Like the caterpillar, when she spins a house around her stories and snuggles with them for a while they often turn into something unexpected. Sometimes they are poems, sometimes plays, once even an opera. She loves showing other people how to write down the worlds in their heads. Renee has two children aged 4 and 5 who are also world-makers.





Poetry Box July challenge – a bedazzle of butterflies






‘Some butterflies are see-through

with wings like panes of glass’


from  Secret World of Butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith and Giselle Clarkson

(Allen & Unwin 2018)



This month I am using the most beautiful butterfly book as the starting point for your challenge.

If you live in Auckland you might be able to go and see the butterfly exhibition at Auckland Museum. Or you might be able to track down this book that has just arrived in the world all sheeny and new.

Poet Courtney Sina Meredith has come up with the sweet flowing words, Giselle Clarkson has created the vibrant illustrations and the Museum has provided fascinating facts.

It is a treasure of a book that is a delight to read and a delight to look at it.

I love butterflies. Whenever a monarch butterfly turns up in our garden I get goosebumps.


So let’s brighten up the chilly bite of July with butterfly poems.


I will read them all near the end of the month, post some favourites on July 31st and have a book for at least one poet.


Some writing tips

collect a big bunch of butterfly words before you start writing (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and a bouquet of similes

try writing a poem using no more than 16 words or so

use your senses to bring the butterfly alive

strong detail can shine

use a fascinating fact as a starting point

tell a little poem butterfly story

use a real experience

imagine something

make a butterfly poem that looks or moves like a butterfly

read your poem to someone before you send it to me – what will make it even better?


deadline: July 30th

send to:

include: your name, age, year, school

essential: put butterfly poem in subject line so I don’t miss it


have fun!!!!




Poetry Box audio spot: Janice Marriot reads ‘Hoiho’ and ‘Turkey Gobble’











Janice Marriott is a multi- award-winning writer of novels, memoir, short stories and children’s books, songs, radio stories, documentaries and plays, and TV scripts.She has won the NZ Post Junior Fiction Award, Aim Senior Fiction Award, Aim Book of the Year, the Esther Glen Medal for Fiction, and been awarded, in 2018,  the Margaret Mahy medal for lifetime achievements in the field of children’s literature.  

She has published poems in the NZ Treasury of Children’s Poems, School Journals, and the NZ Poetry Anthology.  Her poetry blog, active for 7 years, is here 

Janice now helps other people write their stories and poetry here.  Her assessment, tutoring and mentoring business shows how writing can soothe us, challenge us, and give us satisfaction and friendship.




Some favourite epic women poems from my May challenge


Published by Penguin Random House, 2018


To celebrate Barbara Else’s spectacular book, Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic Women, I challenged you to write poems about epic women. I also said epic women might be famous but they might also be the girls and women in our neighbourhoods, in our schools and in our families.

Thank you so much for sending in an epic amount of poems. I couldn’t post them all but I read them all. If I didn’t write you a letter back it is because your email got lost in my system so let me know. And extra thanks to Westmere School and Richmond Road School – you are epic poem writers. You continue to try my challenges and and make new discoveries as you write. I love that!

I am doing an extra post for the poems from Waitakere School.

I loved the way you all picked epic women from your mum or your aunt, Kate Sheppard our pioneering suffragette , Amelia Earhart daring pilot to Maria Tutaia netballer.


I love the way poems can do many things! Words can dart and dash like an agile sports player! They can risk and scoot and sing. Stop on a poem and discover what it is doing because these poems are doing SO MUCH! This is a treasure trove for your ears and eyes so thank you young poets!


I hope Barbara’s book continues to  inspire you! I was inspired by all your fabulous poems. Thank you.

Penguin Random House have donated a copy (thank you!) so I am sending Go Girl to Lucca.



Watch out for my June challenge on June 1st.

Check out the audio spots I am posting where you get to hear NZ poets read their poems for children. You can hear Barbara read her a piece on fabulous poet Selina Tusitala Marsh. Selina is an epic woman! She is an epic poet and an epic friend!


t h e       p o e m s


My mum      


My mum helps me with my homework, and she looks after me.

Even when I’m sick, she looks after me.

Even when I go to sleep, she still looks after me.

She dances by herself on the stage, and I am so proud.

She is awesome.

My mum is the best in the world.


Lucca W  age 10     Richmond Rd School Samoan Unit



Kate Sheppard

“We want to be treated as ordinary human beings, with feelings, thoughts, desires, aspirations, all requiring opportunities for development…we must be ourselves at all risk.”


Gone down in history,

A suffragette,

Kate Sheppard.



Urging women to vote,

Kate Sheppard.


Changed history,


Kate Sheppard,


Changing lives, beliefs, choices and global recognition of women.


Olive Morrison-Lopes Age 10  Westmere School LS7


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Benaiah J,  Age 10    The Hub    Richmond Rd School





In the cockpit

Of a small plane

Rations packed in any spare space

Squishing her,

Jean Batten

Breathe, calm down

She can do this!

Fly across the vast ocean

freeing her,

Jean Batten

Finally, success!

Let’s do it again!

But this time the plane is lost

Losing her

Jean Batten

Is remembered

As a hero!


Evangeline, 10, Year 6, ACG Strathallan


Alice D

Alice D

Likes reading.

Alice D

Is Humble,

She’s Funny,

Full of great ideas.

Alice D

Likes music, sometimes it can be a little unusual.

Alice D

Likes adventures,

She Likes biking

Alice D

Is an Animal lover.

Alice D

Is Kind.

Alice D

Always tries new ideas.

Alice D

can speak French.

Alice D

Likes Alice in Wonderland.

Alice D

Does a range of art,

She enjoys  Sewing.

Alice D


Alice D


Alice D

She Inspires me.

Isabelle G Age 10 Westmere School LS 8



Amelia Earhart

Splutter, Splat and Zoom!

Pat Pat Pat on the plane’s metal roof.

Flying through the clouds,

lightning and thunder all around.

She didn’t have much food,

but a can of cold tomato soup.


Flying higher Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!

The crowds were cheering Woo! Woo! Woo!

But then one day when she was out flying,

people thought the papers were lying,

she disappeared like a flash in the night.

It gave the world a massive fright.

Amelia Earhart was an extraordinary pilot brave and strong,

That was my poem, I hope you enjoyed,

even though it was written by a boy!


Jamie G Age:10 LS6 Westmere school


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Maisie H 10 Years Old LS8 Westmere School



                  Lilly Rylev

Lilly Rylev so brave, nice, beautiful, and awfully funny.

Whenever you feel glum she always there to cheer you up!             

She started off as a little girl at her kindy and moved up to Westmere School.

After Westmere she was so famous!

(well to me she has always been my famous role model)

Ever since I was born she has been ever so nice, she is


a mean person.


We never get into fights, some people may say it is because we have a huge age gap

(well she is 17 now)

But I know that that’s not the case.

Lilly is a teenager

(which means one thing)

All teenagers always


go on their PHONE!

It’s Ridiculous but that’s the thing,

when I want some company then I ask her

and of course she comes and makes everything fun again! Her personality is a little cheerful funny weird

(in a cool way)

Amazing person.

Next year she is going to Denmark for a year

but nothing is going to stop me and her from still being together.

I love her Very much,

And yes she is My Sister.


Hana Rage 9 LS6  Westmere School      



Suzie-Jo poem


Miss Susie-Jo was a very strict teacher…

and nice…

because every time when school was almost finished she took us out for a game.

Miss Susie-Jo was the best teacher I have ever met.


Dre T Age 10  Samoan Unit Richmond Rd School


Miss Mareta

Miss Mareta is  the best teacher ever.

Miss Mareta is very strict.

Miss Mareta is fun, modern, cool and a very funny teacher.

When she is angry she growls half the day.

She helps me with my school work every day.

She is very fun to play with.

She can wiggle,

She can dance,

She can move her body heaps.

Now you know why she’s the best teacher ever.

Zephan P    Age 10   Samoan Unit  Richmond Rd School



Miranda Harcourt

Amazing actor











Lives in windy wellington



Out of this world

Perfect Auntie

Queen of the Aunties

Ray of sunshine




Visits Auckland             


Xiexie (thank you)

You are awesome, Miranda


Madeleine  H Age 9 Westmere School LS6


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  Eleanor P, 9 year old, LS7, Westmere School      



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Stanley B Age: 10 Westmere School  LS8



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Layla A 10 yrs Westmere School LS8


Epic Women

An epic woman doesn’t have to be strong,

or be great at throwing or standing tall.

There might be a woman who is special to you,

who’s kind and loving and giving too.        

A friend might be very special to you,

but don’t go on thinking that you have to choose.

You don’t have to choose who’s most special to you,

all woman are special and you are too!


By Azaria R Age 11 School Homeschool


Maria Tutaia, Netball Extraordinaire.

Maria Tutaia,

Everybody gives a cheer,

Her shooting is superb,

Her footwork needs no work,

I like to watch her play,

I could do it all day,

I love the way she wears black socks,

How her dress is thin around her middle,

Just thinking about her makes me jiggle,

The way she trains,

Is definitely not lame,

Though it is quite confusing,

That instead of shooting,

She prefers defending,

Maria Tutaia.


Olivia P Age : 9 Ls8 Westmere School


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Sadie C 10 years old  Westmere School LS8



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Maggie S Westmere school LS7 Age 10



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Jasper S Westmere School LS7  age:11


Suzie Bates

Suzie smashes the circular cricket ball

over the big bumpy boundary rope.

She pulls the shortball and drives the full ball.

She catches the highball and stops the low ball.

She captains the team and is athletic as can be.

Suzie the black ferns captain.


George C Westmere school LS7   age: 11




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Gabriel W 10 years Westmere School.


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Scarlett age 9 LS7 Westmere School


Kate Sheppard

The marching image of our land

the Sheppard girl so strong so grand.

there was a time in which people said

women were made to serve.

The days were gray and tireless  

But when many unique stand together,

and look fear in the eye,

Even the deepest darkest secrets of life,

are soon to be revealed.

Our nation’s grandest girl

for which we salute and stand tall.

She is the maker of dreams and desires

To tell the story that anything is possible.

Brooke W  Westmere school lS7 10 years




Lily Hanson

Inspires me to dance.

Laughs like crazy.

Yay! she says every day!


Awesomely cool,

Nice and noisy.

Super and Great.

Ok, every day,

Nails everything she tries…

And that is why she is the best friend ever!!!

Hollie B Age: 9 studio: lS7 Westmere School




Poison Ivy is amazing

Poison Ivy likes to sing.

Poison Ivy loves to scare

Poison Ivy has ginger hair.

Poison Ivy is a villain

Poison Ivy wears green.

Poison Ivy has super powers

Poison ivy’s power, is shooting flowers.

Poison Ivy has two friends

Poison Ivy’s evil never ends.

And even though she’s really nasty, she still looks really pretty

She’s strong and clever and  is queen of the city!

Emetose L  Age 10  The Hub Richmond Rd School




A great friend to have around.

Someone I’m glad I found.

Has a great smile.

Love her style!!!

I can play with her for hours

Nicer then a bunch of flowers.

Perfect bottom to top

Energiser, she will never stop

Tougher than a walnut

Extreme without a doubt

Running out and about

She’s very special to me.

(And now thats a way to rap it up my poem about Ashlin.)

 Jemima G Age 9 LS6 Westmere School



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Ashlin P Age:10 LS6 Westmere School



Maria Sibylla Merian

She became an artist

She became a writer

She became …

Oh when will she stop?

Yeah! Slap on that canvas

Write on that paper

And look at those bugs

With a magnifying glass

Butterflies out of mud?

no no no!

But Maria knew better.

Lola T Age:10 School: Westmere Class:lS8



 Tasmyn Benny the boxer  

Smash ! Bash!

She hits her opposition,                         

as she takes her position.

The uppercut hits her so bad,

she starts to get mad.

Tasmyn Benny is not afraid,

she is brave.

Tasmyn Benny gets her hand held up high,

as she starts to emotionally cry,

that is definitely not a lie.

Tasmyn Benny is a knockout !  

Smash! Bash!        

Ava W10 years old  LS8  Westmere School    


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Ella C  LS8. aged 9. Westmere School.


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Henry C LS6 Age 11 Westmere School

Shawna Robinson

Shawna Robinson is brave to race more than 100 miles an hour

Shawna Robinson is very fast when she is in the race

Shawna Robinson is focused to make sure she doesn’t crash

Shawna Robinson is intelligent to know how to not crash

Shawna Robinson is sweaty when she races

Shawna Robinson is quick when she goes into the pit stop

Shawna Robinson is a winner


Ted P Age 10LS6  Westmere School Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 3.16.20 PM.png

Sienna Smith  Age 9 Ls6 Westmere School



Natural like a tree, she’s older than me.

Inspiring as she is, no one else can be a better friend.

Nicer than Santa on his way, to the UK, carrying toys for the children in his sleigh.

Awesome, more awesome than you think.


Beautiful like a rainbow

Amazing Nina.

Rad red panda.

Lovely like a kitten.

Owesome is awesome.

Wonderful like a poem.


Nina is here, no she’s there in the clouds made of candy floss, picking money off trees, getting fanta out of a tap, then lying on marshmallows to take a nap.


Luella P Age: 9  Class: LS6 School: Westmere


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GAIA C Westmere School Age 9 LS8