Category Archives: Uncategorized

Poetry Box Audio Spot: James Brown reads ‘Lost things’



Annual 1, edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris, Gecko Press, 2016


You can find James Brown‘s found poem in the magnificent Annual 1. He talks a bit about it before he reads. Found poems are fun to do – so I will set a challenge for this later in the year.




James’s poetry has appeared in the School Journal and both editions of Annual. His three early reader books – My New Zealand Colours Book, My New Zealand 123 Book, and My New Zealand ABC Book – were among New Zealand’s gifts to the British royal baby Prince Louis. 









Librarian’s Choice: Zac McCallum picks There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in our Neighbourhood




There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in our Neighbourhood by Colin McNaughton,

Walker Books 1990  [first published 1987]



This book was a present from my grandparents on my 6th birthday. I’ve had to part with a lot of books from my collection over the years but this is one book that I can never part with.  I don’t think that six-year-old me really appreciated it but it started my love of Colin McNaughton’s poetry.  Whenever I needed a poem for a poetry competition at primary school it would always be a Colin McNaughton poem.  His poems are perfect for performing which is why I would always choose them. Whether you want a short but silly poem or a rap about a T-Rex you can find it in this book.  My mum still recites ‘Don’t Put Sugar in My Tea, Mum’ regularly and there are some that pop in to my head from time to time.

I think the thing I love the most about Colin’s poems is his funny illustrations that go with each poem.  My favourite poem (complete with hilarious illustration) is ‘Sick of Being Pushed Around,’ about a kid who is being bullied so sends away for a course to help him get muscles.  The illustration shows a weedy kid with hugely muscly arms and makes me laugh every time.  Another of my favourites is called ‘A Poem to Send to Your Worst Enemy,’ which is really just a list of insults that rhyme.

Colin McNaughton has written other collections of poetry like this one, including Who’s Been Sleeping in My Porridge? and Wish You Were Here and I Wasn’t, as well as some fantastic picture books, like the Preston Pig series and Captain Abdul’s Pirate School.  His books are a great way to hook boys in to poetry, especially if you share some of his grossest poems about being car sick or eating too many jelly babies.  Any kids who love Andy Griffiths’ The Bad Book should check out Colin’s poetry.



Zac is a school librarian in Christchurch.  He runs a blog about children’s literature called My Best Friends Are Books, featuring news, reviews and interviews.  His favourite authors include Aaron Blabey, Lisa Thompson, M.G. Leonard and Patrick Ness.  When he’s not reading or talking about books with his wife he is chasing after a boisterous little girl and twin teenage boys.























Poetry Box Audio Spot: Fifi Colston reads ‘Needy Cat’





Image by Carla Martell – check out her website here


Fifi: The poem is based on our old cat Tres. He’s loud, shouty and very demanding, but we love him dearly.

Graduating in Wellington with a Diploma of Visual Communications Design, Fifi freelances with fingers in many creative pies. She is a published junior fiction novelist, children’s book illustrator of more than 30 titles, poet and was a long standing television presenter of arts and crafts on firstly TVNZ’s ‘What Now’ and then ‘The Good Morning Show’. Fifi is a veteran of Wearable Arts; a finalist and award winner over 23 years with 24 entries in show. She has also worked with Weta Workshop, 3 Foot 7 Productions, Pukeko Pictures and The Production Shed in the New Zealand TV and film industry as a costumier, puppet maker and illustrator. When she has a moment, Fifi visits schools and community groups, inspires budding artists and writers and runs workshops in creative process.



Fifi’s blog spot

Here’s Paula’s May poetry challenge.










In my hammock: Reading ‘Wolfy’



Wolfy  by Grégoire Solotareff, Gecko Press, 2018


Julia Marshall of Gecko Press said this was a book she had wanted to publish for years and I can see why.

Wolfy was originally published in French in 1989 as Loulou.

Picture-book stories can do many things. They can make you laugh out loud. They can make you keep turning pages without taking a breath to the very last page because they are so good. They can make you stop and look at the illustrations for what seems like a year because they are so good. They can be fun or serious or mysterious. They can be excellent to read aloud.

Wolfy is like a fable – a story with a message or a moral. It is not a SHOUTY message but a quiet message that shares something important about being human.

There is a rabbit who has never met a wolf.

There is a wolf who has never met a rabbit.

They get to be best friends even though wolves usually eat rabbits.

But then they play:  Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?


And for a few pages things get DARK and SCARY but not like you     may        think.

It is like listening to a piece of music that is sweet and calm and then gets LOUD and TERRIFYING.


And then …..

And then …..


you get my favourite page where the rabbit is lying on his bed face down sobbing.

I nearly cried.


Oh another favourite page: I love the rabbit reading in bed early on!


And then …..

And then ….


Well dear reader, you have to find this fabulous, exquisitely written, divinely illustrated, heart-stopping, uplifting story to find out what happens next.

This is a gem of a book and will no doubt become a classic for English readers.

I adore it!


PS: If you read it and love it: send me a letter to put on the blog:


Gecko Press page








Poetry Box audio spot: Barbara Else reads ‘Selina Tusitala Marsh’ from Go Girls


selina marsh_Ali Teo.jpg

Illustration by Ali Teo



Barbara Else reads ‘Selina Tusitala Marsh: Poet‘ from her book Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women published by Puffin, 2018.


Barbara Else has held the University of Victoria Writing Fellowship and the University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writing Fellowship. She also holds an MNZM for services to literature and has been awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal for services to children’s literature. In her opinion she has simply been doing what she loves best, writing and working with other writers on their manuscripts. Her most recent novels for children are the Tales of Fontania Quartet (Gecko Press), starting with The Travelling Restaurant and ending with The Knot Impossible.  She loved working on real life stories for a change, in Go Girl.


Read my review of the book here.

Find my May challenge inspired by the book.

Puffin author page.




Some favourite poems inspired by Gecko Press’s Impossible Inventions book




Thank you for the poems sparked by Gecko Press‘s Impossible Inventions book. I loved seeing how your imaginations dashed and darted. I liked the way the poems made me think and laugh and wonder!!

I am sending a copy of my book The Letterbox Cat to Nell.



W h a t    f u n  !!


The Helm of Ideas

A wonderful invention:

The Helm of Ideas

It has a little mouse inside 

That whispers in your ear

It will make you the next Einstein!

It will clear your mind of murk!

The small print: Please take note,

It’s not guaranteed to work…


Evangeline, 10, ACG Strathallan, Year 6


Bird Suit

1, 2, 3, jump


Hmm, flap your arms more.


1, 2, 3, Plonk!

Again, and this time flap!

No thanks,

I am not doing that again.

Fine I’ll test it then.

1, 2, 3, jump


Nell Age:9   Year: 5   Homeschool


Greenhouse Gas Zapper

Zap! Zap!

Bang! Bang!

Too much Greenhouse Gas.  

But with this it will be no more.

Goodbye you ghastly gas!


That’s your punishment for climate change.

I’ll shoot you off into space,

along with all your heat.

Life is dying everywhere I look.


Nell   Age:9   Year: 5   Homeschool


The Flying Pig

What do you see

When you Look in the sky

A flying pig

Passing by

With large propellers

And seats for all

This pig flies fast

And won’t ever fall

So when planes are expensive

And cars are too slow

A flying pig

Is the way to go!

Daniel L Age 9, Year 5 Adventure School



The Ping Pong Door (yes, it’s a thing!)

A brilliant invention

That I’ve seen before

Is something known as

The ping pong door

When friends want to play

Which they will do for sure

You just flip it down

And get ready for war

At the end flip it back

So it’s up off the floor

Keeping everyone happy

You can’t ask for more 😁


Gemma L  Age 12, year 8 Adventure school