Tag Archives: Desna Wallace

Librarian’s Choice: Desna Wallace picks Love That Dog



Love That Dog by Sharon Creech


When thinking of favourite poems, poets and poetry books I can’t help but think about verse novels. I love the format of having a narrative told through poetry. The poems create a story as a whole, often different people within the story tell their own narratives. It is probably more often used as a format in young adult books but there are plenty for younger readers. Quite possibly one of the most well-known is Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.

Love it! Love the format, the language, style and story.

Young Jack has to write poems for school. His teacher is on him to give it a go and while openly very reluctant to begin, he does start and slowly comes to understand he can write poetry, and that there is beauty within poems.  He begins naively just spouting out what he is told to do but bit by bit he finds a deeper understanding of poetry and the world around him.



September 13

I don’t want to

because boys

don’t write poetry.


Girls do.


The beauty of verse novels is that every word counts. Poems often hit with an emotional punch and take you by surprise. Different narratives take on different points of view and this works so well with verse novels as we get to see inside the characters and their true feelings and fears. There is often a raw honesty which is both refreshing to read but at times confronting.


Desna Wallace is a published poet and author. Her novel Canterbury Quake My New Zealand Story was a Children’s Choice Finalist in 2015. Desna is a school librarian, an avid reader, blogger and reviewer of children’s and young adult books.

Librarian’s choice: Desna Wallace picks A Child’s Garden of Verses





A Child’s Garden of Verses

By R. L. Stevenson





When I was asked which was my favourite poetry book of all time, there was no hesitation. Without a doubt, it was and always will be,  Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. My copy is over forty years old, a little worn in the corners but very much loved, and very well-travelled, having taken it with me when I lived overseas as I didn’t want to leave it behind.

It was bought with Christmas holiday money when I was a young child and has been treasured ever since. I owe my love of poetry to my standard four teacher Miss Leggat, who shared with the class classic poems such as Robert Browning’s Pied Piper of Hamelin, and Silver by Walter de la Mare. They were poems where we learnt to listen to the rhythm and magic of their stories and it was that rhythm I found in this collection of poems, that makes it still so wonderful today.

While first published in 1885 and perhaps a bit dated for some today, the collection still stands the test of time as the book continues to be published in different versions. The poem From a Railway Carriage stands out as a wonderful example of how rhythm can create a sense of being there and experiencing what the poet is experiencing.

A young boy watches out from the carriage of a train and shares idyllic images as he travels through the countryside.


Faster than fairies, faster than witches,

Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches; …

All of the sights of the hill and the plain

Fly as thick as driving rain


I love how we can hear the sound of the train as it rumbles over the tracks. It is of course a poem that needs to be read aloud, although all poems by default, should be read aloud.

The poems are charming, a little sentimental and very nostalgic for the innocent days  of childhood.

Everyday poems about shadows, having to go to bed even when the sun is still up, the wind and so much more. R.L. Stevenson found happiness in the everyday things and considering he spent much of his childhood ill in bed, this was a wonderful quality to have. It is also why this simple, very short poem stands out. Not brilliant, but the idea that we can find happiness anywhere and be grateful is a lovely concept.


Happy thought

The world is so full

Of a number of things,

I’m sure we should all

Be happy as kings.

The illustrations in my 1972 edition are by Eve Garnett and are simply gorgeous. I completely fell in love with them. They are simple line drawings yet they express so much warmth and emotion.

Whether it is a romantic view of the past, wonderful poems, or wonderful memories of sitting on my bed reading this book at night, I’m sure of one thing. This particular book is a real treasure.






Late arrival! A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Author, librarian, Desna Wallace writes back to Zian




Dear Zian

Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Just keep writing something every day and I know one day I will see your name on a book.

All the best, Zian.

From Desna




Poetry Box April Challenge  is here



A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Zian writes to Desna Wallace




Dear Desna

You are a great writer and someday I hope someday I hope I can write as good as you. I wouldn’t want a better librarian at our school. I love your book ¨Canterbury Quake¨ and I hope you keep writing cool and awesome books.


                                        Sincerely Zian Chen


Name: Zian Chen

Age: 10

Year: 6

School: Fendalton Open Air School


I am posting letters until March 30th! Festival of letters details here