Category Archives: NZ Children’s poetry

Poetry Box Reading Back, Reading Forward: a new series

one of my overflowing children’s bookshelves in our spare room, with books hiding behind the first row, and not counting the children’s poetry shelves

An Introduction to Reading Back, Reading Forward

I recently emailed a number of children’s authors in Aotearoa. I shared my plans to revitalise Poetry Box along with my commitment to create a small hub for children’s books and writing. Local books yes, but also sublime books from overseas. All categories, and for readers and writers up to Year 8.

Loads of authors (and school librarians) are offering support and it feels like the Milky Way keeps landing in my inbox with glints and gleams.

I feel even more compelled to do this since the editors of Annual 3, in a radio interview, suggested their anthology and the School Journal are the books worthy of attention, when there are scant good books available for readers aged 8 to 12 in New Zealand. Annual 3 is wow! – it’s magnificent glorious inspiring, but I’m suspicious of statements from any editors that are universalising, patronising, hierarchical. But, grumble aside, I can’t wait to review the book, plus there will be a review from one of my young reviewers. The anthology is to be celebrated along with so many other equally good local books. My current aim is to promote and showcase children’s books and authors on Poetry Box, and to open up wide, far-reaching, multi-hued paths through the world, both real and imagined, for young readers and writers.

My new series is one way of encountering New Zealand books for children. Of returning to past words and stories in order to move in refreshing ways through the present and towards the future. In Annual 3, there is a brilliant essay by Madison Hamil, ‘Harry Potter and the Missing Letter – and me’. Sometimes you cross the bridge into a piece of writing and the luminous connections spark and sparkle. Madison shares her reading life as a child, and how she emerged from ‘background character’ to confident. Books can be transformative!

Oh and I have other series in the pipeline.

Reading Back, Reading Forward

Bill Nagelkerke came up with the idea of shining light on forgotten New Zealand children’s books. Or books that are out-of-print. He wrote:

I’ve always thought it would be nice to look back at good NZ children’s books long out of print, but worth remembering and worth hunting for in library store rooms and second hand book shops.” Bill Nagelkerke

I loved the idea so much, I invited some authors and librarians to join in, either with a one-off piece or a now-and-then contribution. The books can be any category but suitable for readers up to Year 8. So watch this space!

Most of my own children’s books are no longer available, and that is the same for many other local writers. We are such a small publishing industry in New Zealand, I understand why. But it does make me a bit glum, especially when I think of just the right person to give a copy of something to. Especially Aunt Concertina and her Niece Evalina, with my partner Michael Hight’s gorgeous oil paintings (Random House, 2009) or Flamingo Bendalingo with Michael’s magnificent acrylic paintings of animals (AUP, 2006). Same goes for beloved treasure by other New Zealand authors whose books are no longer available to buy or are hard to track down in libraries.

When I went scavenging for poems for the children’s anthologies that I have edited, I was heartbroken at how few children’s poetry books were still in print. Poetry is like the skinny shadowy corner of our children’s books market – so few get published, probably because so few by individual poets get bought. Yet poetry is such a cool way of unlocking the reader and writer in every child, with rich music, intriguing miniature stories and expanding wonder. And of course the ever present, wide ranging POETRY PLAY!

I love hunting for book treasures in second-hand bookshops and in library archives. Such fun as you never know what you will discover.

I am remembering the glorious novels by Barbara Else (especially The Travelling Restaurant series, Gecko Press, 2011- 2015), every glorious book Margaret Mahy ever published because not all are still available, the earlier brilliant poetry books of Joy Cowley (Mallinson Rendel, 1991) and the equally brilliant poetry of Shirley Gawith (d’Urville Press, 1991). Not only did I track down copies of Shirley’s children’s poetry books, I got to visit her in Nelson! We enthused about books and writing! She was maybe in her seventies or eighties, and she was over the moon that, after so many decades, her out-of-print poetry books were getting attention and her poems had appeared in A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children (Random House, 2014).

Meeting Shirley Gawith in 2014

I do hope this new series spurs you to go scavenging for out-of-print books, to remember and celebrate examples from the past, to read new and fascinating pathways both towards the future and within the present. Reading shapes us. If we are what we eat and breathe, maybe we are what we read, especially when the world is abrim with astonishing books, ideas, feelings, flavours. Bon appetit!

May your days shine with good BOOKS

Poetry Box noticeboard: A UK anthology includes Poetry Box poets

Julian Rothenstein got in touch with me as he wanted to include some young poets from Poetry Box in a new anthology he was editing. I tracked down the children, got permission, and now the book is out in the world. It is simply gorgeous. It is called A Gift (Redstone Press, 2022), and indeed, it is a gift of a book. It shines and it gleams and it inspires.

A Gift is divided into five sections: wondering, feeling, messaging, playing, looking. It includes children’s poems from various countries, with a strong representation from Aotearoa New Zealand. As it says on the back, the book is ‘an invitation to wonder, creativity and play‘.

Also included is a fabulous range of artwork by both children and adults: photographs, drawings, paintings, doodles, collages. And some fascinating found messages – a bit like found poetry.

It is the kind of book that belongs in every school library and on the bookshelf of keen young writers. I am so hoping some booksellers in in New Zealand will stock a few copies as I am dead keen to buy some to give away once I get Poetry Box back up and running.

I am still on the long rocky recovery road after my bone marrow transplant and I am making good progress. But it is slow and my energy pot is really low. I am managing to read a mountain of books (and listen to audio books), eat little plates of food, go for little walks, and dream and doze by our cosy fire.

I am so excited Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat is out in the world now – you might spot little stacks of it in your local bookshop ❤️

Oh and a special thank you to Te Parito Kōwhai Russley School for the gorgeous poems and card you sent me. You cheered me up no end!

Keep safe and well young poets.

I look forward to working with you all again.



Redstone Press page

Poetry Box celebrates a new anthology: Ben Brown, James Brown, Lynley Edmeades & Ashleigh Young read from Skinny Dip

Skinny Dip: Poetry, eds Susan Paris & Kate De Goldi, illustrations by Amy van Luijk, Massey University Press, 2021

Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris, editors of the popular and best-selling Annuals, have edited a lively, much-needed and altogether stunning anthology of poems for middle and older readers. Kate and Susan commissioned ‘original, and sometimes rowdy poetry’ from a selection of well-known Aotearoa poets. The collection is shaped like a school year, with four terms, and with the poets both recalling and imagining school days. The poems are pitched at Y7 to Y10 readers, but will catch the attention of a range of readers. The subjects shift and spark. The moods and tones never stay still: you will move from fascination to eek! to warm glow.

Each poem takes a poetic form and follows the rules or bends them. Some of the poems are free verse (no rules) and some are written according to the rules of specific forms. There is a useful glossary detailing some of the forms at the back of the book (rondel, tanka, haiku, ode, cinquain, rondel, sestina, villanelle, acrostic, pantoum). There are also found, prose, strike-out and dialogue poems. A genius idea for a book that shows how you can follow poetry rules, break poetry rules, play with poetry rules. I especially love the way different forms change both the way a poem looks on the page and how a poem makes music.

In Skinny Dip, the makers of the best-selling Annuals bring you thirty-six poems for young readers from all the New Zealand writers we love: Sam Duckor-Jones, essa may ranapiri, Bill Manhire, Anahera Gildea, Amy McDaid, Kōtuku Nuttall, Ben Brown, Ashleigh Young, Rata Gordon, Dinah Hawken, Oscar Upperton, James Brown, Victor Rodger, Tim Upperton, Lynley Edmeades, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Nina Mingya Powles, Renee Liang and Nick Ascroft.

Through doing my poetry blogs, schools visits and author tours over decades, I have enjoyed poetry simmering and bubbling, somersaulting and sizzling, the length and breadth of Aotearoa. Poetry in my experience can excite the reluctant writer, advance the sophisticated wordsmith, and captivate all those writers in between. There are no rules, as Selina Tusitala Marsh, Ben Brown and I constantly underline, but rules are a useful addition to your poetry toolkit. Poetry forms are fun! Skinny Dip is terrific poetry handbook for readers and budding writers. It looks good, it is good to hold, and the Amy van Luijk’s illustrations are fresh additions.

Sadly, poem anthologies for younger and middle readers are as rare as hen’s teeth in Aotearoa, so it is a special day when a new one hits our library and bookshop shelves. Kate and Susan have curated a selection of poems that will fit all your moods, send you on new thought and writing paths, and will maybe inspire you to write a poem of your own.

Skinny Dip sparked my November challenge (posting November 2nd). In the meantime, four poets have recorded their fabulous poems for you to enjoy. I have listened to them several times already, because I engage with them in so many different ways. Have fun listening! Try my challenges in November.

The readings

Ben Brown reads ‘After the first instruction’ (free verse):

James Brown reads ‘Lunch Experiment’ (a cinquain series)

Lynley Edmeades reads ‘Waiting in the School office’ (a haiku series)

Ashleigh Young reads ‘At the pool with Epeli’ (ode)

The poets

Ben Brown, Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Pāoa, was born in Motueka in 1962. He’s been writing all his life, across all genres, and published his first children’s book in 1991. If pressed, he will have something to say about anything. He says his poem ‘After the First Instruction ‘ is about ‘getting your heart and mind and actions and spirit working together with the world.’ He reckons his children are his best work. He is Aotearoa’s first Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador.

James Brown lives in Wellington’s Island Bay, and enjoys reading and writing poetry. James’ Selected Poems is published by Victoria University Press. He also writes poems and stories for the School Journal, and has written English versions of books by Belgian author and illustrator Leo Timmers. ‘My Skinny Dip poems all involve following formal rules, which I like because rules push your imagination outside its usual boxes. That said, all writing involves careful listening and rewriting what doesn’t sound right.’

Lynley Edmeades lives in Dunedin with her partner and young son. Her most recent book, Listening In (Otago University Press), was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. When she’s not writing or teaching or playing in the sandpit, she likes to walk in the hills. She wrote her Skinny Dip poems in stolen moments, reimagining her own school days.

Ashleigh Young lives in Wellington. Aside from writing and reading, she loves running, riding her bicycle, and swimming. ‘I’ve always marvelled at ultra-endurance athletes and wished I could be one, but I’m far too lazy to do the work. A while ago, I watched a great documentary about people training to swim the English Channel and all the friends and family who helped them do it. I realised that my character, Epeli, also wants to try something bigger like that — he wants to swim the Cook Strait. Unlike me, though, I think Epeli is actually going to to pull it off.’

Bios courtesy of Skinny Dip.

Massey University Press (Annual Ink) page.
Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris talk to Kim Hill
Read an extract at the The Spinoff
ReadNZ Q & A with Kate & Susan

Poetry Box shares Parnell School’s Rūma 13 fabulous haiku video and my popUP haiku challenge

Matua Dean Whittaker’s class at Parnell school in Tāmaki Makaurau has made a fabulous video of haiku poems they wrote. I love the way the poems show how a handful of words can create striking images. Every word adds to the picture that grows in your head, and every word also adds to the music. These haiku poems sound good. Little melodies like honey in your ear. And the images unfold like origami.

Traditionally Japanese haiku have three lines with a set number of syllables on each line: first line (5 syllables), second line (seven syllables), third line (five syllables). Following haiku rules can be such fun. They help tighten the poem. In more recent times haiku still have three lines but the syllable rule is flexible. You can follow the rules or you can play with the rules.

Japanese haiku usually considered the natural world and included a seasonal reference. Nowadays haiku explore a galaxy of subjects and a solar system of moods, and may or may nor include a seasonal reference. And can still build nature images!

Rūma 13’s fabulous haiku video

Rūma 13 is a Year 5 – 6 class at Parnell District School in Tāmaki Makaurau. 

“Our class is a garden of budding artists, politicians, mathematicians, designers, scientists, writers and all the other kaimahi that make Aoteroa such a special place. 

Our teacher Matua Dean is always telling us ‘good writers paint pictures with their words”‘.

A popUP HAIKU challenge

Write a haiku poem.

You choose whether to follow the syllable and subject rules or not.

Listen to your poem.

Shut your eyes and let the poem-image unfold in your mind.

Test every word on the line. Underline the words you think are working beautifully.

Give your poem a title.

You might like to use your poem as part of an art work. (I can’t post PDFs but I can take screen shots. I don’t post surnames though)

Deadline: Wednesday October 27th

Send to:

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

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

I will read all the poems after the deadline and will post some poems on Friday OCT 29th. I will have some books to give away.

Poetry Box NATIONAL POETRY DAY celebration: 8 NZ children’s authors read a poem for you – plus poetry challenges – plus book giveaways – IDEAS for SCHOOLS and for LOCKDOWN TIME

National Poetry Day is on Friday August 27th. To celebrate I invited 8 of my favourite children’s authors to read a poem they love. I have put some poetry challenges under each reading for you to try. I am fairly sure National Poetry Day events will be reinvented online so I am sharing this poetry festival now.

Perfect for National Poetry Day but even more perfect for lockdown. Writing and reading poems is my happy place! Have a go!

I am currently in a state of drift and daze so do let me know if I have made mistakes – I am always grateful not offended.

🌻 A big bouquet of warm thanks and salty west-coast air and mānuka scent and blue skies to the eight authors who did such glorious mahi out of poetry love and the poets who gave permission. Thank you!

Listen to the authors read a poem

Try some of my poem challenges

Deadline: 10th September

Send to:

Include: name, age, year, name of school or homeschooled

Don’t forget to put National Poetry Day Poem in subject line so I don’t miss it

I will post some favourite poems on 17th September. I will have loads of books to give away! I will read all the poems and email you back by this date.

IF YOU MAKE a video – I need parental permission to post it if I pick it.

TOP TIP: Leave your poem for a day and then read it out loud. Listen again before you send it to me.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Keep safe, be kind, share the joy in poetry.

The Poets reading Poems

Vasanti Unka

Vasanti Unka reads ‘When the Lid Slides back’ by Bill Manhire

Poem challenges

Choose a favourite object and write a poem about it.

Pick five favourite words in Bill’s poem and use them in a poem of your own.

Bill loved using his coloured pencils. What do you love doing? Write a poem, long or short, about a favourite thing to do. You might start with an object or you might collect verbs to get you started.

You could turn any of these ideas into a picture/shape/concrete poem. You could make an audio or video of yourself reading your poem or even making your poem!! (need parental permission to send me)

Poem source: Bill Manhire is one of my favourite NZ poets and I especially love this poem. I picked it for A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children (Penguin Random House). It is in Bill’s collection The Victims of Lightning (Victoria University Press).

Vasanti Unka is a picture book creator who writes, illustrates and designs books for ages, 4 – 108 year olds. Over the years, her work has won a range of awards. Her latest book, I Am the Universe won the Booksellers best kids book for 2021. She was born in Pukekohe and presently works out of her sunroom in Auckland. Vasanti’s blogspot. Penguin author page

Bill Manhire’s most recent poetry book Wow (VUP) was longlisted for the NZ Book Awards 2020. He was New Zealand’s inaugural poet laureate, and founded and for many years taught at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. Many New Zealand poets have been through this highly acclaimed writing propgramme. In 2005 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in in the same year was named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. He has edited major poetry anthologies. You can listen to some of his poems here.

Gareth Ward

Gareth Ward reads ‘The Door’ by Daniel Stokes (written aged 10)

Poetry Challenges

Choose a portal, maybe a door or window, and build a poem around it. Your poem might be IMAGINARY or REALISTIC.

You could do a list poem. A window is … OR A door is … OR A gate is …

Or you could write a poem that uses a portal to tell a story. Think of the scene, the mood, fascinating things that might be on the other side.

Poem source: Toitoi 21. This is a wonderful journal of writing and artwork by children. You can find details about it here.

Gareth Ward, a.k.a. The Great Wardini, is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, Police Officer, Evil Magician and Zombie. He basically likes jobs where you get to wear really cool hats. He currently resides in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand where he runs two independent bookshops, Wardini Books and Wardini Books Napier with his wife Louise. He has a goldfish called Luna, a dog called Tonks and is certain his letter from Hogwarts has been lost in the post.

His first novel, The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring young adult Steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel, a 2018 Storylines Notable Book Award and was a finalist in two categories at The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. His second novel, The Clockill and the Thief was released in August 2019 and won a Sir Julius Vogel award for best youth novel. Brasswitch and Bot is Gareth’s third novel and the first in the Rise of the Remarkables series. It is set in the city of York, where Gareth went to University.

My name is Daniel, I was born in Hamilton and still live here. I am 11 years old, turning 12 in December. I live with my sister (Abby), my mum (Kate) and my dad (David). My many hobbies include Irish dancing, reading, and trumpet, which have all become very important to me. I am working towards Grade 5 for practical trumpet and music theory.  I have also developed an interest in waterpolo earlier this year. I am very passionate about that and look forward to the next season. 

The first writing I enjoyed was poetry, which my many teachers at my old school, Hukanui School, made me do all the time. That then brought me into the world of writing. In the last few years I went from disliking writing quite strongly to enjoying it very much. The problem that I had always had with writing was not the actual ideas and content, it was the physical writing and having a link between what I was thinking (which goes 100 miles an hour) to what I was writing (which was much, much slower). Poetry allowed me to think less about grammatical structure and the amount of words and more about how I could bend words to my advantage, by investigating how groups of words sound together to paint a picture.

Philippa Werry

Phillipa Werry reads ‘If you feel blue get on your skidoo’ by Margaret Mahy

Poetry Challenges courtesy of Phillipa:

Write a poem about another mode of transport that plays on its name, as Margaret does with skidoo.  You could pick submarine, double-decker bus, helicopter, train, bicycle, balloon, snowboard, lorry … or something other fascinating means of travelling. 

Write a list poem that starts If you feel ….. (some emotion). You could feel happy, sad, scared, lonely lost, cross, shy, bored … you pick!

Write a poem with some made-up words in it. 

Your poem might tell a story or just have fun with WORDS!

Let your imagine go flying!

Poem source: This fabulous poem is in Margaret’s fabulous poetry collection The Word Witch, edited by Tessa Duder, illustrations by David Elliot (HarperCollins)

Philippa Werry writes fiction, non-fiction, plays and poetry for children and young adults. She has a particular interest in history which has led to titles such as Anzac Day, Best Mates (illustrated by Bob Kerr), Waitangi Day, The New Zealand Wars, The Telegram and This is Where I Stand (illustrated by Kieran Rynhart). She has also been to Antarctica!

Margaret Mahy (1936 – 2012) is one of New Zealand’s most beloved authors. She wrote over two hundred titles from dazzling picture books for the very young to award-winning novels for teenagers. She wrote poems, novels, non-fiction, picture books and countless school readers. Margaret was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Medal which is an enormous, international honour.

Donovan Bixley

Donovan Bixley reads ‘The Circus’ by Joy Cowley

Poetry Challenges

Donovan says he loves funny poems and poems with an AH HA! moment in the middle. I do too!

Try writing a poem that is funny. It might be a funny character, a funny event, a funny place, funny food, funny jokes.

Write a poem about something funny that has happened to you.

Write a poem that has a surprise or a twist in the middle or at the end.

Poem source: Elephant Rhymes, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Brent Putzee (Scholastic) I am such a fan of Joy’s poems. Check our her Gobbledegook book (see her bio).

Donovan Bixley is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed picture book creators with over 120 books published in 31 countries. His award-winning titles span high–brow to low–brow and every brow in between, from his illustrated biography Much Ado About Shakespeare, to the hilarious hijinks of pussycats in planes in Paris in his Flying Furballs seriesHe’s most well-known for his best-selling pre-school books such as The Wheels on the Bus and The Great Kiwi ABC Book, as well as his colourful and humorous retellings of of the legends of Māui. Among his many accolades Donovan was the recipient of the 2017 Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Laureate Award, which places Donovan’s body of work alongside some of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists. His books have been twice selected for the International Youth Library’s White Raven award which annually lists the top 200 children’s books in the world, and in 2021 he was named a Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to New Zealand children’s literature.Donovan grew up in Taupō and still lives beside the great lake. When not immersed in the world of picture books Donovan is involved in local theatre and plays saxophone in several bands.

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers. Her awards include the Margaret Mahy Medal; the NZ Post Children’s Book Award 2006; the Roberta Long Medal, Alabama, USA; and the AW Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature. She is a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Gecko Pres published the utterly magnificent gathering of Joy’s poems, with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson in The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology.

Melinda Szymanik

Melinda Szymanik reads ‘Sun Sonata’ by Elizabeth Pulford and ‘Waxing and Waning’ by Elena de Roo.

Poetry Challenges

Try writing a very small poem about the sun OR the moon that shows them in a new light.

Collect sun OR moon words and make poem patterns with them. Have word fun!

Write a very small poem with both the SUN and MOON in. Test out favourite lines and pick your favourites.

Poem sources: Elizabeth Pulford’s ‘Sun Sonata and Elena de Roo’s poems are both in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, edited by Paula Green (Penguin Random House).

Melinda Szymanik is an award-winning writer of stories and poetry for children and young adults. She was the 2014 University of Otago, College of Education, Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, a judge for the 2016 NZCYA Book Awards and runs an online writing competition called Fabostory, for primary and intermediate age children with 9 other authors. Her most recent books are Moon and Sun (Upstart, 2021), My Elephant is Blue (Penguin, 2021) and Batkiwi (Scholastic, 2021).

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. 

Elizabeth Pulford lives in a small village not far from the city of Dunedin, New Zealand, with one extra nice husband, and a gentle garden. She has two adult children and two grandchildren. She has published stories, poems and articles for both adults and children. Over sixty books for children, from early readers through to Young Adults; plus one adult’s novel. Many of her adult short stories have won competitions, while four of her children’s books, The Memory Tree (Scholastic NZ), Call of the Cruins (Scholastic NZ), Tussock (Walker Books Australia) and Finding Monkey Moon (Walker Books Australia & Candlewick USA) reached the finals of the New Zealand Children’s Book Awards.

Tania Roxborogh

Tania Roxborogh reads ‘My Sister’s Top’ by Ruth Sun (Year 7)

Poetry Challenge

Think of an everyday object that you can describe in a poem, and that says something about who you are and your place in the world.

Use someone’s favourite piece of clothing to write a poem about them.

Choose your own favourite piece of clothing and see where that takes you in a poem. You might get a story, a word pattern, a picture poem, a list poem.

Poem source: Ruth wrote this poem when she did writing workshops with Tania over six weeks in 2006.

Tania Roxborogh (Ngāti Porou) is a veteran educator and an award-winning writer of over thirty published works. Her latest children’s novel, Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the sea, published by Huia Publishers September 2020, won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2021. Tania’s happy places are: her classroom, at home with her husband and her young border collie, enjoying pyjama days, and wherever she can snatch time to read – most often books recommended by her students.

From Ruth Sun: I was a massive reader all through my teenage years, at the time I really liked fantasy and always wanted to be the next Tamora Pierce or Terry Pratchett. I was at Columba College in Dunedin. I used to read and write constantly, although I didn’t actually like poetry much at the time. 

Unfortunately I don’t really do any writing anymore, although it’s something I always think about getting back into. Funnily enough I love reading poetry now, I still love Tamora Pierce and Terry Pratchett as well. I’m now a dentist based in Wellington/Porirua. I have a big collection of books but they’re all in storage at the moment. I’m sure mum still has that top somewhere!

Elena de Roo

Elena de Roo reads ‘Parcel’ by Bill Nagelkerke

Poetry Challenges

Think of a place you love and unwrap it in a poem! It might be your grandparents’ place, or aunt or uncle’s, or in another town or city, in the countryside, another country.

Hunt for detail that will make the place glow in your poem.

Poetry Source: The Night the Moon Fell Down and other poems, Bill Nagelkerke (Copy Press) – some terrific poems in this collection! PG

Elena de Roo is a children’s poet and author who lives next to Cornwall Park in Auckland. As well as having a sweet tooth, she loves thinking up poems in her head while walking around the park. Her latest book, Rush! Rush! (illus. Jenny Cooper) One Tree House, is a story-poem inspired by a walk in Awhitu regional park. Elena also has several poems soon to appear in RoarSqueakPurr: A NZ Treasury of Animal Poems, (ed. Paula Green, illus. Jenny Cooper), Penguin Random House, due out in November. 

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. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Bill Nagelkerke

Bill Nagelkerke reads ‘No rhyme’ by Tim Upperton

Poetry Challenge

Tim Upperton’s poem offers lots of challenges for poets! Try writing a poem where you use your imagination and see the world in surprising ways.

Look out the window and rewrite what you see in a poem, letting your imagination soar.

Poem source: ‘No rhyme’ was published in the School Journal Level 3 August 2015 

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. His most recent titles are a collection of poems, The night the moon fell down (dist. The Copy Press, 2019) and a ghost story, The ghosts on the hill (Cuba Press, 2020). His translation of the children’s novel I’ll keep you close (Levine Querido, 2021) by Dutch writer Jeska Verstegen will be published towards the end of the year.

Tim Upperton is a poet, writer, reviewer and teacher, living in Palmerston North. He is the winner of two international poetry competitions. He has been published in numerous literary journals and has published several poetry collections.

Poetry Box: A Booktown treat – poetry from tamariki in Featherston

When I was at Featherston Booktown Festival in May, I got to do a Speed Date an Author event with local tamariki. It was fast flying poetry! I got thirty minutes with each group and I got the children writing poems with me on the whiteboard and their own poems they could take away and finish. I challenged them to use their ears and eyes. I loved the way children got into the poetry zone and let their ideas and words go exploring.

I so enjoyed my time in the magnificent Wairarapa. I got the children to write poem postcards – poems that showed me somewhere in the Wairarapa they loved. It could be the ocean, a river, a maunga, a grandmother’s garden, a street, a cafe, a bookshop. Poems that showed me places I might like to check out! And because we had only a few minutes to share, I invited them to send me some.

How delighted I was to get this poem bundle from South Featherston School. Thank you for taking me back to your glorious region. I can tell your eyes and ears were working magnificently. Thank you!

Best yummiest dumplings ever at The Offering Cafe in Greytown.

The Poems


The buzzer on the

 door went beep 

as we appear

 through the door.

The books are clapping. 

The scanner is scanning.  

The coffee machine is 


The floor board is 


The people are chatting.

The cicadas chirp

 as we Exit on to the

 busy street.


 Wairarapa Ruamahanga River

Glistening emerald green

shining in the beam

of the sun rays.

River rustling round

banks rising over 

the ripples

wakes running high

boards flailing

banging the break.

shwish, shwish, shwish

People call the speed. 

Getting ready.


Tararua Ranges

The trees swish

The trees crash

High winds howl

Gravel scattering while people walk

Floor boards creek

Swing bridge sways

River crashes splashing on rocks

Birds flap

Birds squawk

Cicadas chirp throughout the forest.



Rugby is cool

Rugby is great 

Rugby is a game 

I play with my mates 

Sometimes I get muddy

And sometimes I get hurt 

The game gets frustrating 

And you might rage

But at least I’m with my mates



Balls flying

Birds chirping

Bush swaying

Rivers swishing moving

Hammers clanking

Wind howling brushing against you

Boots trending on the muddy ground

Rain hosing down

This is the Wairarapa



The wind whistles

The trees sway

It was a cold day

The crackling fire sizzled

My blankets ruffle

The stars glimmer in the sky

The moon glides into

The dark deep blue sky

I gaze off into

The galaxy next to us


The Lake, Wairarapa

it’s pretty fun,

trees, bushes, and water together,

children building, swimming, and laughing,

watch the ducks and swans glide across the water,

hear the tūī chirp above,

the clouds forming waves,

you should go there sometime.


Lake Wairarapa

Motor roars away

I vibrate as water crashes

Water pellets hit faces

Screams echo far

Hills covered with green

Big wave hits


We fall off.



Splash! Splash! Splash!

Crunch! soft soft sand

SQUAWK! Go the seagulls

Boom go the waves

 It’s going to be a very, nice, day.


It’s going to be a very nice POETRY day!

Featherston’s main road, a town with seven bookshops!

a very very very good children’s bookshop

On my way home after a heart warming week of words and very very good food! Thanks Wairarapa and Featherston Booktown.

Poetry Box in Featherston: Magnetic Poetry

What fun to do poetry with children in Featherston (and some mums who joined in too!). I read some of my poems, we made up long long snaking poems, we made up poems using our ears, and we made up poems using our eyes. I loved the way everyone joined in and the pens went scratching like tiny poetry mice on the paper. A SPECIAL DAY!

So a big thank you to all the children (and mums) who filled the room with a poetry glow – I was still glowing as I drove over the Rimutaka range on Monday and flew home! I was waiting for someone to ask what my glow was all about, so I could say it was a Featherston Booktown glow from all the poems the children wrote.

I am so sorry not all my photos turned out so I have just shared a few with you! Honey-rose only half your Platywawa poem was in the photo!

Here are a few of the poems

Animals Are Fun

The Snake

I’m a slithery snake

I’m a slow shedding snake

I’m a red banded snake

I’m a mountain dwelling snake

I’m a dynamic ssssssing snake

I’m an awesome smelling snake

I’m a LONG snake

Isaac, age 9, St Teresa School


I’m tiny teeny chihuahua

I’m a sleepy weepy chihuahua

I’m a fat rat chihuahua

I’m a kind windy chihuahua

I’m a cheeky sneaky chihuahua

Honey-rose, age 9, St Teresa School

I’m a Horse

I’m a lightning speedy horse

I’m a stinky muddy horse

I’m a raspberry lemonade horse

I’m a loving loving pretty horse

Sarah, age 8, Queen Margaret College


I’m a sausage roll cat

I’m a pink polka dot cat

I’m an orange stripy cat

I’m a crunchy munchy cat

I’m a sweet lolly cat

I’m a loved loved cat

Evie, age 8, Greytown School


The cat is stripy and fluffy

and cute and a good cat.

Emilia, age 6, Featherston School

Imaginary Animals


The lizarpus likes to eat the fungi

The lizarpus doesn’t like to eat pie

The lizarpus likes to eat chocolate

The Lizarpus likes to drink juice

The lizarpus likes rocks

The lizaropus swims in the sea

The lizarpus loves clouds

The lizarpus is AWESOME!

Isaac, age 9, St Teresa School

The Sniger

A sniger likes to eat meat

A sniger likes to play catch the ball

A sniger likes to slide and snooze

And you have to watch out for its tail

or you might turn into kale!

India, age 7, Featherston School


Eletamus grow in the forest

Bathes in the mud

Plays with sparkling sequins

East dry hay

Elatamus makes your day

Azalea, age 7, St Teresa School

The Snakog

The snakog likes to eat mouse

and tigers.

The snakog likes to play

with his ball.

Lulu, age 8, Queen Margaret College

And some picture poems for our mums

My Mum

Long silky black hair,
Smile as wide as the sun,

Eyes as brown as cocoa,

Eyebrows as dark as the midnight sky,
Posture proud as the sun.


Poetry Box review: ‘Rush! Rush!’ by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Rush! Rush! by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, One Tree House, 2021

Over the fence,

and down with a whoosh!

Onto the track!

Into the bush.

Elena de Roo is my favourite New Zealand poet for children and I have long hoped for a collection from her. Her new book Rush! Rush! is definitely a start. The book-length poem is an absolute JOY to read. A young girl is racing to get from home to the beach. Maestro illustrator Jenny Cooper has painted the girl in her pyjamas and dressing gown, because she has pulled the curtains back, peeked at the beautiful day, and then whizzed through the door. Rush! Rush! Rush! The illustrations are sublime. So full of exuberant life. Read the book and savour the images as you race along with the poem and the girl. You will get breathless too!

Every word is pitch perfect. One of the reasons (and there are many) I admire Elena as a poet is because she has a deft musical ear. She listens to how the line sounds. She avoids the clunky predictable rhythms and rhymes of so many picture books. She catches the rhythm of a child rushing, breathing in sights and sounds, and who is too excited to stop. The rhymes are a treat, especially the near rhymes that add knottiness to the musical flow (blind / time; sheep / bleat). She dances between soft and sharp sounds. Ah! she is a poet musician extraordinaire!

It felt like I read the story poem in one delicious breath – and I really liked the ending. A perfect ending (a single word!) to open the story wide like the girl’s arms stretched wide on the cover.

This book is a JOYFUL INVIGORATING POETRY treat and would be the very best book to read aloud to a class or your children. I was reminded of Margaret Mahy’s fabulous A Summery Saturday Morning. I love Rush! Rush! And it has given me an idea for my April Poetry Challenge.

Swoop round the shed,

In a ground-hugging loop.

What’s all the fuss about?

Rattles the roof.

Elena de Roo completed this book when she was the 2020 University of Otago College of Education / Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence. She has written a number of award-winning books and lives in Auckland.

Jenny Cooper is an award-winning illustrator and has illustrated more than 70 books. She lives in Amberley, Christchurch.

One Tree House page

Elena de Roo website

Poetry Box March poem challenge: SUMMER!

Welcome back to Poetry Box!! I am very excited about doing poetry with you in 2021 and seeing how words will take us exploring, adventuring, experimenting, playing, recording, inventing, telling stories, sounding good, thinking, dreaming, feeling GOOD!

I had a lovely summer. My vegetable garden went crazy with veggies. I read loads of books (adult and children and in between!). I wrote some poems. I started secret new writing projects I will go exploring with this year.

And YES!! I have an exciting new children’s book coming out later in the year. I edited an animal poem anthology and can’t wait for you to see it.

Sad things happened – we now have only one pet left – Charlie the stray kitten is now an old man cat (nearly 18!) who likes to sleep in my guitar case.

So let’s getting writing poems!

The March Poem Challenge:

Summer poems

Write a poem that is inspired by summer. It can be true, made up, tell a story, short, long. Here are some ideas.

TOP tip: Don’t send your poem the day you write it. Let it sit until at least the next day if not a week.

Here are some ideas:

Write a summer postcard to someone about something you saw or did.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer place. Use words to take a photograph or a video!

Write a summer poem that has loads of summer verbs.

Write a summer poem that has loads of summer nouns.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer food.

Write a summer poem that tells a summer story.

Write a summer poem that imagines the perfect summer experience.

Write a summer poem about has a twist in the telling!

Write a summer poem that catches summer weather.

Write a summer poem that is full of surprises.

Write a summer poem about your favourite summer moment.

YOU can include an artwork

DEADLINE: 26th March


INCLUDE: your name, age, year, name of school or say home schooled

DON”T FORGET TO WRITE: Summer poem challenge in email subject line

H a v e f u n !

Poetry Box November challenge: some favourite food poems

from Taikura Steiner School

thanks everyone who sent in poems in 2020 and making Poetry Box so special

It has taken me ages to read all your scrumptious food poems (hundreds of them!) with such sweet salty sour sizzling word choices. I loved the way your imaginations leapt and trampolined, and your poems made me want to eat yummy things.

Too many poems to post them all – but the challenge is to have fun writing poetry and to play with words and ideas. And you have done a SMORGASBORD of that. What fun.

I always feel sad I can’t pick all your poems, but I hope you keep up the poetry love over summer and try writing a poem of your own.

I have had big problems doing this post so if your poem is set out wrong or I haven’t replied to you let me know.

AND then in March 2021 try my first poem challenge of the year.

Poetry Box is never hosting competitions (so no winners and losers) but invites you to try new and old things when it comes to writing a poem.

I was inspired to do the food challenge by the excellent Egg & Spoon cookbook (Alexander Tylee and Giselle Clarkson). Gecko Press have kindly given me two copies to give away. I am giving them to: Harry S from Fendalton School and Finn B from Russley School.

The Poems


When mum’s in the kitchen
the smell of fresh pie
fills the rooms
of my house
then it sneaks out.

Vitek M, 7 years old, Y2, Ilam School

A Bed of Clams

Cranky, clinky clams

Checked rough patterns

burrowing like kids in bed

Finn B Year 3 Russley School

My Morning Porridge

My morning porridge
Steaming in pot
Nutritious warmth trapped inside
Just oats and creamy milk
My morning porridge
Melting in your mouth
Leaving me with a warm glow in my tummy
Ready for a long day at school
My morning porridge
Raspberry, blueberries and banana
Fruit explosions
Sticking to my face
I lick up the warm goodness
Of my morning porridge

Phoebe, age 12, Selwyn House


French waffles in snowy Paris with a little dog tied to a dark leather lead drinking cold glistening water looking at my waffle with its golden crispy coat

Harry S age 9 year 4 Fendalton School


A crumb,
birds chomping,
flying away,
a competition,
starting in the sky.

Maia-Sophia B Age: 11 Ilam School

Crispy Egg Tarts

Crispy egg tarts
Have a lovely crunch to them
A hot egg jelly inside

Joyce X, age 9, Fendalton Open Air School

Cold Spaghetti

I have a dog
a black as coal dog.
Her name is Poppy
whenever we go to the park
she lets herself loose
out on the field
and slowly gets tired
and sits down beside me
begging for food of course.
I refuse
she runs as fast as thunder
to an open can of cold spaghetti
Yum yum!

Libby, age 7, Ilam School

Poems from Richmond Rd School


Crunchy Seaweed and squishy rice
With a surprise in the middle
Curled up like a cylinder
With a tasty texture.

By Kaden, Ana Cooper O and Meadow


Sticky sweet suckers,
Dissolving in my mouth.
Slippery on your tongue.
Melty in your mouth,
Super sweet and sticky,
Sour surprises!

By Felix and Issy, Feddie and Sophia L


It is super sweet on your tongue
It’s like a crooked, fat, witches nose.
It’s a glowing heart with black freckles.

By Sophia L and Feddie


Red and juicy flesh in my mouth
A sweet surprise in the shape of a love heart
Full of seeds and nice and squishy
Like a precious red ruby.

By Issy and Felix


Pale orange like the sun
Setting across the silver sea
It’s as juicy as a melting ice block

By Cooper and Meadow

MORE Scrumptious Food Poems

My annoying brother

It’s 6 am,
I feel like it’s 1,
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
I hear heavy footsteps downstairs.
I slip my slippers on and my dressing gown.
I tiptoe out of my room, open the door, creek! The door creeks open,
I continue to tiptoe down the stairs.
I reach the bottom of the stairs.
My arm is reaching for a torch nearby.
I turn it on.
Crunch, munch, crunch.
I head towards the kitchen door.
My brother yells, ‘AHH!’
‘It’s okay, it’s okay it is only me’ I say calmly.
I stride across the floor to where he’s sitting bolt upright on a stool opposite a counter full of biscuits and chocolate.
‘Eating breakfast’ My brother said with a nervous tone.
‘Oh really?

Isabella G Age:10 Selwyn House School

I like FOOD

I have travelled the world

And tasted food of all kinds

Here are just some

That spring to my mind

The food in France

Sent me into a trance



Frogs legs


In Finland I ate bold

Because I was so cold




Rice pie

In Aussie it was easy

To find food that was greasy


Meat pies


Loaded fries

The buffets of Singapore

Have all food types – and more



Egg stations

Juice flurries

In Canada, poutine

Hawaii has loco moco

In America, alligator

Couscous in Morocco

Fettucine, fish, frankfurters and fruit

Oreos, oranges, Opera cakes

Oats, omelettes, or oxtail soup

Dumplings, donuts, duck and dates

There is so much food! But I have to say

The thing that I like most

Is what I eat at home every day…

Peanut buttery toast!

Daniel L, age 12, Y7, Hadlow School


It’s a warm and sunny day

To be on the gorgeous bay

I am jumping and splashing

And oh! I hear loud screeching

I swish, jump and turn around

See a car going around

I see an ice cream on top

Of the car that makes me hop


I quickly run to my dad

He pulls dollars out and I’m glad

He replies : “You are in luck!”

So I run straight to the truck

I now have a chocolate chip

Ice cream in chocolate dip


Leo Y Year 7 Age 11, Russley School

Salmon Patties

The shopping list:
210 grams of crimson red salmon
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of self-raising flour
1-2 tablespoons of stinky vinegar.

The Classic Method
Drain the liquid of the salmon and replace with the smelliest vinegar you can find
In a bowl, beat up the eggs…but don’t bully them
Mix the flour into the bullied eggs
Now add the salmon and mix well, like soil and water
In a frying pan, add a pat of butter and oil
Once you have heated it up enough, you will hear sizzling like the sounds of summer
Add the mushy mixture in tablespoon lots and cook until the mixture sets. Or before Christmas comes
With an egg slicer turn the patties repeatedly until nice and crispy brown…or when your heart desires
You can now officially munch your salmon patties up.
Pro tip: Eat before your family discovers that you’re eating the yummiest recipe ever

Niya K Age: 10 Ilam School Canterbury

How to make breakfast:

First you take the bread out of the freezer.
Then you heat it up using the heater.
Next you put it in the toaster and heat it up nice.
While you wait, get some water and put in some ice.
When the toast is done, take a butter knife to spread the peanut butter.
Then put the cheese on the toast using a cheese cutter.
When the breakfast meal is completed,
Well, now you can eat it!

Scarlett B 11 yrs old Yr 6 College Street Normal School


My slim fingers
dig into the slimy spaghetti
spilled on my plate.
The sauce bubbles
through my teeth,
slowly slips away down my throat,
scratches my insides
like tiger’s teeth
rippling down my belly.

Eliska M, 9 years old, Y5 Ilam School

Fish Burritos

nicely toasted soft tortillas crumble into my mouth

fresh and thick sour cream changes the taste

crumbs wrapped around my fish like a cloak

red onion dancing along my taste buds sharing its song

leafy coriander reminds me of trees

sriracha sauce giving it a kick to top it off

Violetta, aged 11, Selwyn House School

LS4 Middle School at Westmere


Once I ate a snail,
which left a snail trail,
on my tongue!

It could have been less blubbery
and very much less flubbery.
The little thing daren’t go down.

I liked it but I couldn’t.
I’d like it if it didn’t
make me have to chew and grind
and swallow it whole!

At first it tasted like olives.
just a flavoured bit of fat,
but after a while I thought…
“I’ll never stomach that!”

by Lakie

My Ode to Malaysian

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
You are the best.
Your roti is like a pancake.
Your spicy chicken blows me away,
probably because you are in a curry!

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
I love your pineapple and coconut milkshake.
It wakes me up the moment I sip it.
I love you from my head to my feet.

Oh Malaysian, Malaysian
You are my love.
When I eat you I feel like a dove!
I will never let you go,
not for a month.
No, not time to go!
Do I have to wait another week?

By Nina

Potato Top Pie!

Potato top pie
so creamy and delicious.
On the top,
a potato tornado,
swirling like the wind
on a breezy day.
It’s my favourite in the world!
I find it extraordinary.
It melts in my mouth,
like an ice cream
on a hot day.
Out of all the pies,
this is the best.
Do you like it too?
I do!
Potato top pie.


Fish and Chips

Fish and chips.
Crunching and munching
on these delightful chips!
Soft in the middle
crunchy on the outside.
Man, I can’t stop munching
on these fish and chips.
Little bit sweet
little bit sour.
Just the perfect flavour.
Ohhhhh! This is the food!
Fish and chips.
Crunching and munching
on these delightful chips!



Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to make a base.
Knead, knead, knead, knead
stretch, stretch, pull.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to spread the sauce.
Dollop, dollop,spread, spread
We could add some gorse?

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to lay the toppings.
Mushrooms, salami and olives too.
Plop! on the pizza,
Yum for you!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza.
It’s time to sprinkle the cheese.
Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle
Pizza for me!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to cook it brown.
Bake, bake, bake, bake,
Turn the oven down.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
It’s time to eat it up!

Share, share, share, share,

By Martha

Year One Richmond Road School

A Feastival

Fish sizzling in a frying pan
Odorous onions make me cry
Sour lemon makes my face funny
Popcorn fireworks blowing through the air
Chicken drumsticks feel so slippery and greasy

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School


Radishes as red as a tomato
Apples as golden as a medal
Ice cream is as brown as a raisin
Nectarines are as yellow as a buttercup
Broccoli is as green as mint
Oranges are as orange as Fruit Bursts
Watermelon as pink as a pig
Spaghetti as beige as a building block

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School


Crunchy munchy chicken chips
Handful of happiness
In my puku
Potatoes at their best
Salty, spicy, scrumptious!

Trish’s year 1 class Richmond Road School

6 & 7 year olds at Westmere School

My Food! My Food!

My cat likes fish,
I don’t like fish!
I love strawberries.
They’re really juicy!
I lick my lips
when I see them.

Chloe H Age 7


I hate dark chocolate.
I love pepperoni pizza with cheese.
I love mango flavoured ice cream
I hate Peas!

Yosei F Age 6

Ice Cream and Food

I like chocolate and ice cream
But I hate smoked salmon.
I like pizza
pineapple and ham pizza,
I hate rice and peas mixed in a bowl.
I love broccoli and chicken.
I love strawberries
and ice cream
and popcorn.

Chloe P Age 6


Soft buns.
It has tomato sauce
that goes well
with mustard
as hot as
hot chocolate.
The chips
are so salty
I need a sip
of water,
with ice.

Henry P Age 7

5 year olds at Westmere School


When you take a bite of watermelon,
does it dribble down your chin
Yes it does!
When I take bite of watermelon
I spit out the seeds!

Ella 5


I do not like egg
It tastes yukky.
(But I like eggs in cakes…)

Orli 5


My favourite food is bubblegum
I love bubblegum
because I like making bubbles.
You make bubbles
by chewing
and chewing
and chewing
then you

Charlie 5

and lastly, a couple of combined poem from Westmere 5 year olds ….


The jelly is like a frog, slimy.
The jelly looks like a cloud.
The jelly is slippery, slimy.
The jelly is as yummy as an ice cream and it is jiggly.
The jelly is really wriggly.
The jelly is as wobbly as santa’s hat.
The jelly is like a slippery mushy bubble.
The jelly is as wobbly as your shivering hands.
The jelly is as cold as the frozen strawberry.
The jelly is wriggly as a tickly hand.
The jelly is wobbly like a wriggly worm and I like it.
The jelly is jiggly jelly and it is shiny like the ocean because it is watery.
The jelly is cold like the north pole.
The jelly is as wobbly as Santa’s hat.
The jelly is cold and wobbly and it’s yummy.
The jiggly wiggly jelly is like a frog.
The jelly is as jiggly as a worm.
The jelly is like Santa’s hat and it is as wobbly as a penguin.
The jelly is like super slimy on my hand.

Even MORE tasty food poems


Red cherries in a tree,
Falling on top of me.
And I eat them up.
So delicious!
They come in twins,
And different shades of red.

Mia W Y5 age 9, Fendalton Open Air School

How to Live a Long Time


  • A birthday
  • Noodles (Ideally long)
  • Water
  • Jokes


  1. Wait until your birthday
  2. Go to a noodle shop or canteen
  3. Choose very thin and long noodles which symbolise long life
  4. Then tell funny jokes which make you live even longer
  5. Drink lots of water

Now you know how to live a long time, good luck!

Sam| 8 years old|Year 4| Russley School

Richmond School poems

I like pizza and lasagna.
I like tacos and macho nachos.
I like salt and vinegar chips with my fish.
I like pumpkin soup with bread in bed.
I like chicken drumsticks with sauce.
I eat them without pause.
When it’s halloween
I am a candy and chocolate eating machine.
When it’s Christmas time…
it’s always turkey with some gravy.

Theo M Age:10 Richmond Road School

Cotton Candy

Cotton candy
Twisty, twirly
Wispy, whirly.

Melts in my mouth.
Sugary sweet
My favourite candy,
I love to eat.
Like a pile of fluff
bundled up in a tuft.

Cotton candy
Twisty, twirly
Wispy, whirly.

Parker age 9 Richmond Rd School

Big Roast Beef

Its raining big roast beef today
How much beef ? It’s hard to say!

They plummet down, one by one ,
A Christmas treat! Oh what such fun!

Charlie M Age 9 Richmond Rd School

Churton Park School poems

Dear Broccoli,

You are my worst nightmare
I hate you so much
Every bite haunts me

If I were you I would pack your bags
And move to a different UNIVERSE.
All the different types of broccoli,
Fried, microwaved, cheesy and boiled

Do you get what I’m meaning NOW?
Do you understand?
I’ll say it one more time



Kate, 11, Churton Park School

Ode to Chip

Oh, lovely chip filled with joy
You make people happy every second of the day
You make people scrunch their face with your salty sensation
and you can come in different sizes
like big and small
Your obvious texture feels nice on your tongue
Crunchy and smooth we love them all soft or crunchy.

Jacob L Age 11 Churton Park School

Mac and cheese recipe

Melting in a pot!
Fake cheese fake cheese fake cheese
Melting in a pot!
Noodle noodle noodle
boiling in a pot!
bacon bacon bacon
sizzling in a pan!
Noodles noodles noodles
strained into the sink
cheesy sauce and bacon
being added to a bowl
mixing mixing mixing
mac and cheese in a bowl

Mya, 11, Year 6, Churton Park School

A Food Poem

Water tasting like salt and pepper
Noodles curling like long snakes
Tender red meat tasting like heaven
Fresh green leaves garnished around
A red hot chilli sitting all by itself

Pranavi, Year 6, Churton Park School, Wellington


Dear Lasagne,
Sticky layers of pasta roll across my tongue
Fleshy mince melts in my mouth
Cheesy paste explodes in my mouth like a volcano
A creamy smell of your sauce wafts into my delighted nose.
My stomach bulges as I take the last satisfying bite

Dylan age 11 Churton Park School


Sitting down at a birthday party, folding my legs.
I grab a small slice of cake.
I slowly bite into it,
I feel a light spongy mushy texture with a hint of sugar“
So delicious, freshly out of the oven so soft.
I enjoy every single bit of it, the sun shining on my face.

Courtney-Jane Age – 10 Year – 6, Churton Park School

Chocolate Fountain

A rippling cascade of chocolatey deliciousness
Coating a minuscule slice of crispy apple
Smothering a cube of almost sour kiwifruit
And hardening over a freshly skewered strawberry

The fountain bubbles slightly
But otherwise flows smoothly on top of a dipped banana
Making an archway underneath
And covering the sweet fruit with chocolate

As I bring one to my mouth
The molten chocolate dribbles onto the table,
Drips a bit
And starts to harden

Kyra, Age 1, Churton Park School

An extra feast of delicious poems

Watermelon haiku

of the pumpkin
of the pumpkin king
Under his cap
the watermelons’
pink room
In the quiet darkness
the moon shadows
the watermelon
From my tree-house
it rains watermelon seeds

Tom N, Y7, age 12, Christchurch South Intermediate

Christmas Dinner

I am cooking Christmas Dinner

it is the BEST thing that you will EVER taste

For the meat I am using turkey, deep fried

in coconut oil

with goat tongue and boar tripe

garnished with turtle eyes.

For the vegetables I am making

eggplant boiled in camomile and dandelion root tea,

topped with saffron strands.

For the sauce I am preparing,

whole puffer fish {spikes and all}

blended up in a food processor

along with lead,

from the pencil of my maths professor.

Cabbage mousse as well as

a light sprinkling of caviar,

whipped cream with mango,

from Portico

that’s the dessert.

Come and feed

but take heed

of never eating better

the Van Clan

Some more poems from Taikura Steiner School

happy summer holidays