Category Archives: Uncategorized

Jake’s (aged 10) heart poem

My Broken Heart

I’m different to everyone else.
I have a big heart,
I was born with an extra valve.
I couldn’t do what all the other kids were doing.
I couldn’t run as fast as them,
I couldn’t climb as high as them,
it was hard.
But one day it all changed.
An ambulance is normally late but this one was different.
The ambulance was on time. It was in time. In time to save me and my
broken heart.
They put a heart monitor on me,
They thought it was broken so they turned it off and on again,
I was broken, not the machine.
It went about up to 180-240. Beats. Beats in a minute.
Can you hear your heart? I can always hear mine. I’m always listening.
I know it’s sound.
An average man faints by now. I didn’t.
They were impressed…
By my broken heart and my strong will.
They opened me up and took some of my heart, the broken part. But not my will.
It’s fixed now. My broken heart.
I’m different to everyone else
I have a big heart… still.
I can do what all the other kids are doing
I can run faster than them
I can climb higher than them,
It is hard.
Now I live my life as a nearly normal boy,
With a big heart, that matches my big dreams, that needs my strong will.
My big heart smiles every day.
they thought it was broken so they turned it off and on again,
I’m different to everyone else.

By Jake Steel



Hi my name is Jake, I go to Sunnynook Primary School and I am a house leader in year 6. I love to play sport my favourite sport is golf and rugby but I like to do anything. I find writing a bit hard, but I really enjoyed writing this poem. My favourite books are David Walliams books and anything about nature. I hope you like my poem, my heart is much better now. Thank you, Jake

PS Jake is 10 years old and has had SVT which is a heart condition. He has had SVT since he was 3 years old and it took about 6 years to diagnose what it was. We were fortunate to have surgery last year whereby this is no longer an issue for him.

Poetry Box August challenge: moon poems


Amber Moffat I Would Dangle the Moon, MidnightSun Publishing 2019

click for my review



I recently reviewed a magnificent MOON picture book on Poetry Box and was inspired to do a moon challenge this month with a copy of the book to give way thanks to the publisher and author. And it is of course a special moon anniversary!

I love moon poems. I wrote a book of poems called Macaroni Moon which is now out of print but maybe you can find in the library.


     t   h   e          m   o   o   n          poem challenge


There is something about the moon that is altogether mysterious, magical and marvellous. It can be such a thing of beauty hanging in the sky. So far away!

So this month your challenge is to write a moon poem. It can be a poem about the moon or a poem in which the moon makes an appearance as an object or even as a character.



Hunt for as many moon words as you can. What it looks like! Reminds you of.

Try different endings. Try different kinds of endings that makes the reader feel something different.

Try using real detail. Look for word strings (all the words like shine!)

Use your imagination and see where you moon leap.

What does the moon remind you of? Test out different possibilities.

Think carefully about how many words you use on the line. Play!

Find which words stand out in your poem? That are particularly delicious and moon perfect.

Test out different forms – do a monn list or a moon picture poem, a haiku or a triolet.

Keep your poem longer than the day you write it. Let it simmer so you can see if you want to change anything.


DEADLINE: Monday August 26th

Send to

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

PLEASE say: it’s for the Moon-Poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will post my favourites on August 30th

and have the moon book for a poet.  It is not a competition though! I just like sharing books.


h a v e    m o o n         FUN



The moon

the moon is like a gleaming hubcap

as it moves across the tarseal sky







Daniel sees French picture book author-illustrators Clotilde Perrinand Eric Veillé



Dear Paula

You recommended it, so in May we went to the Gecko Press Les Petits kiwis festival at Capital E to see French picture book author-illustrators Clotilde Perrinand Eric Veillé. It was so much fun! We listened to some of the stories and learnt how to draw the Big Bad Wolf and the Granny, and how to make a flip up picture. They taught us how many pictures go into making a book – if you look at the photo you can see! We left our Wolf book at home so couldn’t get it autographed ( And they read a really cool book about scary monsters (A Monster Wearing Socks?) that weren’t actually scary, which made mum and me laugh out loud but they didn’t have that one for sale and we already had the other books!

Here are some photos of the day and also one of my wolf and granny drawings! It’s not as good as the one Clotilde drew that you can see in the photo. She is very clever. And Eric was very funny!

Thank you for telling is about this because it was really fun :).  I’m sorry I didn’t remember to tell you about it until now.



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Poetry Box review: from Gecko Press – Zanzibar and Monkey on the Run

With three books out in the world over a month I am getting lots of interviews. I get asked what I am reading and what I have loved reading and I always flag children’s books, especially children’s books published in Aotearoa.

Margaret Mahy showed how children’s books are magical, fun, challenging, imaginative, word soaring, rhythm gliding, absolute treasures whatever your age.

Gecko Press publish children’s books that make my skin tingle they are so good. Amazing illustrations, breathtaking writing and heart catching stories.


Here are two new treasures from Gecko Press!




Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers is a story in pictures. NO words bar the title so you can make up your own story using the illustrations as clues. I would have loved performing this when I was young.

Each page is full to the brim with curious things, fascinating vehicles, animals doing a zillion things: follow the spiralling, filming, pan-sizzling, waiting, driving, juggling, tossing, towel-folding, straw-slurping, fish-reading, dog-bone-gathering, jewellery-displaying, tennis-playing, hospital-going, bird-singing, carrot-juicing, gelato-licking, giraffe-kissing, concrete-churning traffic jam all the way along the road as monkey runs and leaps and clambers on top of it ALL

to the END.

What a perfect ending that made me smile like the Great Wall of China!

And what a gorgeous curious fascinating UPLIFT of a book! I am still smiling from eyes to toes.

Gecko Press page


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Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx is a junior chapter book featuring a reporter called Achille LeBlab (a lizard) and a crow called Zanzibar.

Achille is keen to write an article about an exceptional character but wonders if Zanzibar is the right choice and the only exceptional thing about him is his name, especially when he FAILED the singing test (caw caw caw).

What a golden opportunity for an ordinary character to become EXTRAORDINARY!

Zanzibar could make a mean mushroom omelette but the reporter scoffed at that skill!

Maybe if he could lift a camel with one wing into the air the mean old reporter wouldn’t scoff (scoff scoff scoff). So the next day Zanzibar packs his knapsack and flies to a desert in search of a camel.

Hmmm! You will have to read the book to find out what happens to incredible Zanzibar BUT

this is a story of good friends and things both ordinary and extraordinary – oh and excellent mushroom omelettes.  A delicious read indeed.


Gecko Press author Q & A page






Making up new Groovy Fish poems at the Dorothy Butler Children’s bookshop




A very big thank you to Cuba Press, The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop in Auckland and all the children, mums, nanas and other adults who came. A special thank you to the lovely Mary from the bookshop for writing down our poems when our words were whizzing fast!

You still get a chance to win a drawing if you send in a poem to my Groovy Fish challenge. All the names will go in the hat and I will pull out one or two. Plus I will give away a few Groovy Fish books.

These two launches have been really special – it felt like the bookshops filled with warm poetry glows and I took poetry glow home with me.

Thank you!

Here are some photos – and under that are some poems we made up together using titles from Groovy Fish.









Thunder Monkey

Thunder’s in the sky

bang crack

boom crash

coupled with lightning blue


The monkeys are in the trees

swinging, revelling, trembling

in the storm


Thunder monkeys are lit up by lightning

thunder monkeys are super monkeys

and are fine in the storm


Lollipops and Chicken Pox

I have chicken pox

but I really like lollipops


I have measles

but I really like weasles


I have the flu

but I like the colour blue


I have a cold

but I make paper folds


I have diabetes

but I really like sweeties   (uh oh!)


But today I’m well

and I’m writing a poem


The Little Fish

The little fish lives

in a deep dark watery cave.

It’s as little as a pin

and black

and has an electric blue fin.

It makes a ginormous friend.


They play and splash

on a bright summer’s day.


The Biscuit Thief

Chocolate cream biscuits

sitting in a jar

on a picnic blanket

by a feast of cakes.


Ants take the cake

to their ant hill

but the ants are in cahoots

with the imperial cruisers

and the biscuits are lost in space.


Tap Dancing Fish

Glorious, blindingly beautiful

tap dancing fish

tappity tappity tap tap tap


jumping stomping leaping

in a disco fish bowl

right on top of the high cabinet


The fish jump so high

out of the bowl

kissing the ceiling

they land on the floor

crash bang wallop

and tap dance away

never to be seen again


What a fun day we had!





Making up new Groovy Fish poems at the Children’s Bookshop in Wellington

A very big thank you to Cuba Press, The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington and all the children, mums, dads and other adults who came.

You still get a chance to win a drawing if you send in a poem to my Groovy Fish challenge. All the names will go in the hat and I will pull out one or two. Plus I will give away a few Groovy Fish books.

And if you live in Auckland you can come to my Groovy Fish launch event at the Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop on Tuesday 16th July – 11 to 12. We will do exactly what I did in Wellington. See invite at the bottom of this post.



Happy because it is nearly time to start! Thanks for the divine coffee and orange juice Ruth xx


In 2014 children gave me the titles to kick start poems for my new Groovy Fish book

so I decided to give the titles back to children

when I launched the book in at Children’s Bookshop in Wellington on Wednesday.

What a gorgeous shop full to the brim with children’s books.



Helen and Austin

Ruth had set up an inviting space with cushions and an easel with paper – children turned up aged from maybe three to maybe eleven! Even adults came including the fabulous poet Belinda Wong. Poet Helen Rickerby brought her godson Austin – an extra keen young poetry writer! And the very lovely team from my publisher Cuba Press were there to join in: Mary, Sarah and Paul. (Mary did a stellar job writing down our group poems!


Reading from Groovy Fish, onlookers include Samantha, Oscar, Austin and Max (Max was writing a cool polar bear poem in his notebook!).




Samantha chooses a poem title.


I had cut up all the titles from my book and got children to pull one out of the fish bag – and then we made up poems together. Such fun! I am posting some below.

I had drawn groovy fish on paper so children could find a quiet spot and write their own poems and get to keep a drawing. I had also drawn little fish children put their names on – we pulled a few out and gave some of my original illustrations from the book away.




Oscar wrote a cool fish poem to take home inside the fish I drew.



Samantha got to take home the tap-dancing fish illustration.



And book signing time – which means more fish drawings! This for Anneke.


Here are some of our poems – all ideas were welcome – imaginations were springing to the moon and back! No words from me! Chocolate came up a lot!


The Highway Rat

Galloping on a cicada

the highway rat is off

to the shop to buy

chocolate to eat

with the fairies

in the tree house.



Lick Lick Riff

A very very very

very very very big

chocolate ice cream

melted to the ground

and an ant that had

been starving for weeks

on end licked

it all up!

Lick lick lick

lick lick lick

lick lick lick!


Tea with Aunty Lee

Aunty Lee is at the zoo

running skipping

farting observing

BUT!! an emu

is screaming, ‘LOOK OUT!

there’s an escaped

lion on the loose!’

The Tree House

Inside the tree house

a battered sofa

next to the leaves

like lollies

in the trees,

magical fairies eating


birds tweeting.


Swimming with an Alien



the green alien

with two heads

(well it’s lonely!)

has ten fingers on each hand

and is floating

like a squiggly worm.


Thank you everyone what a MAGNIFICENT occasion. I just loved it.





Poetry Box review: Kate DiCamillo’s Louisana’s Way home

My July Challenge: Recycling Groovy Fish titles

(July 10 WTN, July 16 AKLD)  My Groovy Fish events





Kate DiCamilo, Louisiana’s Way Home, Walker Books, 2019

‘Follow-up to the New York Times Bestselling Raymie Nightingale, from an internationally revered author, twice winner of the Newbery Medal.’


Louisiana Elefante wants to write her story down – she begins with her great-grandfather (he was a magician) who had laid down a ghastly curse. And then she begins with her Granny whipping her out of the house in the middle of the night and driving away saying the time had come! Mysterious yes! Curious yes!

Louisiana Elefante does not want to leave her home, friends, cat Archie and a one-eyed dog called Buddy. She does not want to go. She is desperate but they drive and drive until they run out of petrol and her granny gets such a ferocious toothache something must happen.

Louisiana Elefante is sad and cross and feels helpless but she is also a RESOURCEFUL girl which means she figures how to make the best of what she’s got. So (I will not tell you how) they end up in a small town in Georgia.

This story is so addictive with its twists and turns and secrets, with its sad patches and warm glows, I could not stop reading it.

I kept thinking I needed to light the fire but I kept reading.

I kept thinking I needed to pull the curtains but I kept reading.

I keep thinking I wanted a cup of peppermint tea but I kept reading.


I read and read and read in one big glorious gulp until there were no more pages left to read because I wanted to find out what happened to Louisiana.

I love the characters: especially the Burke Allen family (they are all called Burke Allen except the extremely lovely mum) and Reverend Obertask – and of course Louisiana.

This novel is all about belonging; about home, about families, friendships, secrets and the very best kindnesses. You will find cakes in here – I could almost smell the pineapple-upside-down cake all sticky and sweet – because Betty Allen (the mum) is a magnificent cake baker.

Some things stay hidden in this novel (perhaps that leaves room for another one) and we have to guess at things. Little gaps and guessing at things can be very rewarding when you read a book – especially when they are combined with characters so full of living you want to hug them.

This is a splendid FULL OF HUMAN WARMTH book – and now that I have finished it I can light the fire, and pull the curtains and make a cup of peppermint tea and let the whole thing run through my head again from the two beginnings to the ending. Perfect!


Walker author page

Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, for The Tale of Despereaux and Flora & Ulysses. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis, where she faithfully writes two pages a day, five days a week.