Tag Archives: allen & unwin

Poetry Box review: Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst

The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst: A Kingdoms and Empires Book by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby, Allen & Unwin, 2020

When I was six we all had to read from a favourite book to the class. I jumped for joy at this golden opportunity. It was really hard picking just one book so I picked the biggest book on my shelves. It definitely wasn’t the best book or even my favourite but it had (maybe my memory is exaggerating) at least 500 pages. I thought I would get to spend all year reading to the class. It was SO big I had trouble holding it. My teacher took one look at the book and said Gosh that’s a big book Paula. Maybe just read the first page and give everyone a taste. My heart sank. It definitely wasn’t one of my favourite childhood books because I can hardly remember anything about it now. Except it was about Brownies and I had never got to be a Brownie and get badges and do secret signs or whatever it was they did.

I was reminded of this embarrassing moment as a fan of books, because I have just finished reading a really really long book for older children (10 to 14 say). It is 535 pages and I loved every single bit and bite of it. Jacyln Moriarty has set two earlier books in her invented world, the Kingdoms and Empires, but I haven’t read them yet. So they are on their way to my letterbox and I can’t wait! ( I think I should call it a bookbox I order so many books!) .

Esther Mettlestone-Staranise goes to Katherine Valley Boarding School. Jaclyn is extremely good at making up names and I roll them around on my tongue like juicy marbles.

TRIPLE BUT!! On the first day back everything is a bit different. Esther’s two best friends aren’t at school. She has a new teacher and everyone says she is an ogre but she turns out to be very funny and very strange and very surprising and no matter what she does everyone loves her. And there are two new girls at the school, both in Esther’s class, and they are also very surprising. I was personally very surprised at the way the teacher teased the students in her class. And nothing Esther does is good enough for her. That can’t be right! Especially stories and Esther loves writing stories.

Esther has two talented sisters (one is an excellent swimmer, the other can spot when someone is telling a lie and both are good at poker). Her father is an historian who always listens (well usually) and her mother is not as nice to her as she is to her sisters. She has a job that seems important but is hard to explain.

The school is surrounded by mountains but this term there is an evil threat: the Shadow Mages. The school needs to be protected, and what with THIS and THAT, this mishap and that catastrophe, it is up to Esther to protect and save the school.

What a page turner!

What a how-you-heart-will-beat-faster-as-you-read book.

What a spider’s web of mysterious things and people and happenings.

What I adored about this book – aside from the cool characters and the challenging circumstances and the magnificent settings and the page-turning plot – are the exquisitely woven threads on what it is to BE in a world where not everything and everyone is perfect. You get to think about how we are not all the same and how we can be shades of good and bad. And how there are so many different ways to grow into being a grownup but how some things always matter: kindness, listening, sharing, supporting, taking little risks, understanding difference, building peace, justice.

I love LOVE love this book. I was feeling really gloomy even though it was a blue-sky day but reading this SUPERLATIVE book made very happy indeed. Jaclyn’s sentences sing, her ideas sizzle and her imagination is so elastic it might send you to the moon and back. Yes I am now full to the brim with the very best book comfort. I would so loved to have read it to my class! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Jaclyn Moriarty is the prize-winning author of novels for children, young adults and adults. The Kingdoms and Empires books, a series of standalone books for 10 to 14-year-olds, include The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars and The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst. The first two books in the series have won and been short-listed for a number of prizes. A former media and entertainment lawyer, Jaclyn grew up in Sydney, lived in the US, the UK and Canada, and now lives in Sydney again.

Allen and Unwin page

Poetry Box gold: Bren MacDibble’s Across the Risen Sea

Bren MacDibble Across the Risen Sea Allen & Unwin, 2020

Bren MacDibble grew up on farms all over Aotearoa. She lived in Melbourne, then sold everything and went bus travelling around Australia for two years. She recently parked her bus in Kalbarn on Australia’s west coast. I loved her first book How to Bee so so much – as did others because it won many awards in Aotearoa and Australia. Her second book Dog Runner won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the NZ Book Awards (2019). She writes for young adults under the name Callie Black (and is ace at that too!).

Bren’s third junior novel Across the Risen Sea came out earlier this year. She wrote this in her acknowledgements page (in March 2020): ‘What a year we are going through. Although we’re only three months into 2020 as I write this, it feels like we’ve lived a thousand years of fires and disease. No matter how it turns out, it will be a year of lessons.’

Yes! Little did Bren know how our challenging year would unfold, and how things are still not better yet in the world.

Bren’s new dystopian junior novel Across the Risen Sea is a good book to read in these challenging times. It is highly entertaining, exquisitely gripping and, most important of all, thought provoking. The book will get you thinking about how we treat the world, and each other. I was reminded of how I learnt some important lessons in Level 4 lockdown. What do I need in my life versus what do I want in my life?

Neoma lives in a tiny environmentally-aware community on high ground. All about them is the risen sea. The old world has changed. Lost in the past, in stories, in whatever exists beyond the village. Her best friend is Jag. She and Jag want to be the best scavengers and fishing crew. They live in dwellings made of car bodies that the risen sea had brought to the surface. They live off the land and the sea. They are gentle and kind. They have no technologies, no internet, no mobile phones. They have little boats that skim over the ocean and they have wise elders.

One day some strangers arrive from the Valley of the Sun, with their different language and, without giving the locals any choice, chop down precious trees and erect a tower on a hilltop. Definitely technological. Definitely unsettling. Neoma is furious. She and Jag draw pictures of it, she gets too close and burns herself. Feeling their village way of life is under threat, she sabotages the tower – and her bold action in the dead of night sets off a tumbling and terrible sequence of events.

And here is the gold nugget of the book – the way a young girl is resilient, daring, thinking on her feet, slow to trust, keen to DO something to make things better. She must save her friend, find the truth, go places she never knew existed, outwit a wicked and extremely cunning pirate, hungry crocodiles. Such tension, such page-turning delight, I gobbled this book up in one sitting! YUM!

When I finished, I started thinking about how we are being given a chance to do things differently. How everything we choose to do has a consequence. How we can look out for one another, how we can do little tiny things to help make a world a better place for everyone! How we can find our own brave daring wonderful kind steps.

This is a very good book and I am sure it already has a BUSLOAD of reading fans!

Allen & Unwin page

Poetry Box bubble time: I read from Poems Aloud and set some activities


Whenever I write a poem (whether for adults or children) it has to SOUND good. I always SAY my poems out loud.

Poems can go FAST or SLOW! Words can clash and rhyme and connect and glide and purr and whisper and roar.

You can make sound patterns in poems when you make words rhyme and repeat the first letters of words (alliteration). You can make the tummies of words rhyme and the tails of words of rhyme.

All my poetry books for children show how I like to play with the sounds of words.




Poems Aloud by Joseph Coelho with illustrations by Daniel Gray-Barnett (Allen & Unwin 2020)

Today I am going to share a cool new book where Joseph Coelho plays with the SOUND of poems and Daniel Gray-Barnett does the illustrations.


Each poem has a tip for something you might like to try.

Some poems invite you to perform them with a friend.

Some poems invite you to read them in special animal voices.

Some poems imagine what it would be like to talk like an object.

Some poems invite you to show how a poem feels.

Some poems invite you to make puppets and do a poem puppet show with different voices.

Some poems invite you to do a tongue twister.

Some poems invite you to use rhyme you can predict.

Some poems invite you to move from loud to quiet (dimuendo).

Some poems invite you to move from quiet to loud (crescendo).

Some poems invite you to read really fast.

Some poems invite you to read really slowly.

Some poems invite you to read with suspense!


I highly recommend you getting a copy of this book but in the meantime I have read a few of the poems for a taster:




Paula reads ‘The Shockadile Crocodile‘ (you can join in!)




Paula reads ‘To the Countryside’ (a poem that goes from loud to quiet)




Paula reads ‘Speedy Rocket’ (yes this poem goes really fast)




Paula reads ‘This bear’  (a poem that goes really slowly)



JOSEPH COELHO is an award winning poet and performer from London, although he now lives by the sea. In 2019 he won the Independent Bookshop Week Picture Book Award for If All the World Were. He has been longlisted for The Carnegie Children’s Award with his poetry collection Overheard In A Tower Block. He won the 2015 CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award with his debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules. His debut Picture Book, Luna Loves Library Day was voted one of the nations favourite picture books by a survey led by World Book Day. His other poetry books include How To Write Poems and A Year Of Nature Poems.

DANIEL GRAY-BARNETT is an Australian illustrator and author based in Tasmania. He has illustrated 4 books for children, including the award winning debut, Grandma Z. His illustrations have been commissioned by clients such as The New York Times, Sydney Opera House, The Boston Globe, The New Yorker, Warner Music, and The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. His work has been shown internationally and has been awarded by the Society of Illustrators NY, Communication Arts and 3×3 magazine.


Some SOUND Poetry Box Bubble activities

Have a look at the list of poem ideas above and see if you can write or read one like that.

I love the idea of writing and reading a poem in the voice of an animal or object.

And playing with rhyme. And playing with speed and slowness. And reading with suspense. And do tongue twisters.

You might come up with your own ideas on how to make a poem sound cool.

Alliteration is fun.

Rhyme can be easy or tricky.

You can match the starts of words or the middles of words or the ends of words.

You can send me written poems and drawings, or recordings if you like (audio MP3 or MP4 or video – YouTube links are easy for me to post).


H a v e    f u n


send to  paulajoygreen@gmail.com

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put SOUND challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it

don’t put your surname on drawings or paintings or collages (Poetry Box policy)


There is no deadline while we are living in our bubbles! Every Friday I will post some work by children. I will always answer your emails but not straightaway. If I haven’t replied after 3 or 4 days nudge me as I may have missed it.


You can also try these Poetry Box activities:


Listen to Amelia (8) read 3 poems from The Treasury and try my activities

Listen to Philippa Werry read her poem and try her simile challenge

Make a memory album or page

Try my lost-wonder challenges and listen Sarah Ell’s new book Lost Wonders!

Loads of MAKING ideas inside and outside

Do something rainy or snowy! Watch me read my rain and cold poems from The Letterbox Cat

Listen to Melinda Szymanik read her alien mother story and try your own

Send me pictures, photos or poems of curious things you see on your walks

Listen to Maisie and I read fish poems and invite you to do fishy things

Listen to my unpublished very very very strange tail story and do some illustrations for it or invent your own strange tail!

Try writing a postcard poem from where you’d like to be!

Mixed up animals and hear Paula read ‘Anifables’ poem

Sally Sutton’s magic hat challenge

Celebrate your hero and listen to Barbara Else read

Tell me about your favourite bookshop or library

Try my Pass the Poem challenge with friends and family by phone or email

Write draw video comic strip letters poems stories about being in your bubble

My cloudy challenges and hear my cloud poem

My thank our supermarket workers challenge

Listen to me read Aunt Concertina and offer a cool challenge

Listen to me read my poem ‘Lick Lick Riff’ dog poem and offer a doggy cat tiger bat any animal challenge

Check out David Hill’s wonderful photo challenge

Listen to Swapna Haddow read her book and try a rabbit challenge

Try Johanna Aitchison’s hunt the teddy challenges

Ruth Paul reads her muddy poem and I offer muddy challenges

kia kaha

keep well

keep imagining












Poetry Box Lounge: Launching Sarah Ell’s Lost Wonders, a wee challenge and a giveaway book


headshot W Calver.jpg

Photo credit: Will Calver of Ocean Photography


Lost Wonders, Sarah Ell, illustrated by Phoebe Smith, Allen & Unwin, 2020


h a p p y     l a u n c h    d a y   S a r a h !


Welcome to this fabulous children’s book launch. How fabulous it can happen in all our bubbles! I invite you to settle down with a warm drink (hot chocolate for me!) and listen to Sarah and her children celebrate mum’s new book.

If you like discovering things, if you like collecting facts, if you like dinosaurs and moa and the lost wonders of Aotearoa – then this is the book for you. I am completely FASCINATED by the book; I keep DELVING into the pages and making all kinds of DISCOVERIES. You can print off the ACTIVITY page and you can try my CHALLENGE below and I will have A COPY of Sarah’s book for one child who participates when our bubbles open!



Sarah Ell says a few words to launch the book with the help of her children:




And now a wee reading from Sarah:




Drawings by Phoebe Morris you can download and print off:



Lost Wonders FB.png



This is a must-have book in my view – so as soon as bookshops open we can get our copy – or we could order it now from our local bookstore.

Allen & Unwin page


A Poetry Box bubble time challenge:


Write a poem about one of the birds above.

Write a poem about a lost wonder of Aotearoa

Find a fascinating fact about the bird you didn’t know!

Find a fascinating fact about a lost wonder you didn’t know!

Show me the bird or lost wonder in your poem: verbs and nouns make things come alive. What were the feathers like? The wings? The way it moved? Where it lived? What it ate? The sounds it made?


I will send a copy of the book sent to one lucky writer once we leave our bubbles


send to  paulajoygreen@gmail.com

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put LOST WONDER challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it

don’t put your surname on drawings or paintings or collages (Poetry Box policy)


There is no deadline while we are living in our bubbles! Every Friday I will post some work by children. I will always answer your emails but not straightaway. If I haven’t replied after 3 or 4 days nudge me as I may have missed it.


Poetry Box bubble time: While we are in our bubbles, you might like to go to my blog and try one of my activities or listen to a children’s author or me read stories and poems.

I will be posting a new challenge kater today

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


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

Allen & Unwin  – author page


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



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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Ah, this is such a deep and difficult pang.

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

Ah, this book encourages me to pay attention.

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

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



THURSDAY POP-UP challenge:


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

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

Pākehā have done too much of this!

So I am going to give you a few choices.


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

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



Deadline: 26th October 9 am

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

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

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

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