Tag Archives: Gavin Bishop

A delightful bundle of Gecko Press books with TWO hidden poem challenges for you

Four gorgeous books from Gecko Press to share!


The illustrations are

s   c   i   n   t   i   l   l   a   t   i   n  g .

The stories are

m   o   u   t   h   w   a   t   e   r   i   n   g.

Which means I gobbled them UP in a F L A S H.

And then I came back for a   l o n g          s   l   o   w       feast.


Thanks Gecko Press!



Bathtime for Little Rabbit by Jörg Mühle is a small board book for very young children about a rabbit that needs a bath so he gets to be SQUEAKY clean.  I love the way Little Rabbit gets dried. This is a FUN read.


The Lost Kitten is a scrumptious picture book by Lee with illustrations by Komako Sakai. I loved reading this book, because as you know from my children’s poems, we have cats. In fact Charlie arrived at OUR door lost and hungry and wanted to stay with us for EVER and EVER. We seemed to become a magnet for lost and hungry kittens, but now we live in the country we are too far away.

In this story though, a mother cat brings her hungry kitten to Hina’s place because she knows it needs looking after. You will see it is the cutest little ball of fluff that deserves a warm and cosy cat basket.

Just like us, Hina and her mum feed the cat and make it a cat box and take it to the vet.

Just like us, the kitten makes Hina very, very happy.

But NOT like us (and Charlie), the sweetest cutest little ball of kitten fluff goes missing.

I especially loved the illustrations by Komako Saki. She is a famous and much-loved illustrator in Japan where she lives. You feel like you are inside the story when you look at the pictures, because she knows just how to paint how Hina feels.


Bruno: Some of the more interesting days in my life so far is a splendiferous read by Catharina Valckx. There are six linked stories with very cool illustrations by Nicolas Hubesch that make me want to get my pencils and draw.

Catharina has written over 30 books and is published in over 11 languages and has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Awards 4 times.

Nicolas Hubesch lives in PARIS where he also draws comics. I LOVELOVELOVELOVE his drawings. They do have a PARIS feel about them.

The first story starts like this: ‘The peculiar day started out as an ordinary day.’

This is how poems start sometimes and it means you can begin with what you know and end up somewhere rather marvelous. Catharina has a very BOUNCY imagination because Bruno gets followed by a flying fish that is a tincy bit lost and is nowhere near the ocean. In fact this is a story of strange things in an ordinary day, AND to make it especially GOOD – normal things on a normal day.

In ‘A rainy day,’ Poor old Bruno finds his house is just as wet inside as it is outside when it is RAINING RAINING RAINING. All his friends turn up WET WET WET and EAT EAT EAT all his food. Everyone makes a MESS MESS MESS.

We get to read about:

A peculiar day

A rainy day

A day when the power went out

A much less interesting day

An almost perfect day

A stupid day (that ends pretty well)

This is a very INTERESTING book to read!



a    l i t t l e   c h a l l e n g e   f o  r   y o u        (YO – Y8 in NZ)


I LOVE LOVE LOVE these titles so much, I am challenging you to use one as the title for a poem (You can do more than one!). Let your imagination BOUNCE with what you know and what you make up!


Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by 5th MAY. I will post some favourites on MAY 10th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

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

Put GECKO challenge in the subject line of the email please.



I am a HUGE fan of Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop and I especially love their Snake and Lizard books.


So on a very wet Sunday afternoon I gobbled up the new one: Helper and Helper.


Gavin’s illustrations are sheer beauty.

Joy’s stories are warm and wise and witty. Her sentences are like clear shiny streams.


Snake and Lizard are full to the brim with life and show us the power of friendship. Being friends is bumps and hills and new days and arguments and listening and kindness and discoveries.

When I read these stories I fill with warmth and good feelings and just want to write poems or even give stories a go.


a n o t h e r   c h a l l e n g e

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these stories so much I am challenging you to write a ‘Snake and Lizard’ poem (You can do more than one!). Read the book first to get inspired by the characters. Make up what happens. It can be something very small and curious.


Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by 5th MAY. I will post some favourites on MAY 10th and have a copy of the book for one reader.

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

Put SNAKE and LIZARD challenge in the subject line of the email please.


PS: I won’t answer your emails until May as I will be away!

Teddy One-Eye: Gavin Bishop’s autobiography of a teddy bear is such a treat

9781775537274    9781775537274    9781775537274    9781775537274

Teddy One-Eye: The autobiography of a teddy bear by Gavin Bishop, Random House, 2014

Gavin Bishop is one of our most beloved authors and illustrators and he has a new book out. It feels like a brother or sister to his fabulous memoir Piano Rock. I met a number of teachers on my tour who have used Piano Rock a lot with their classes. I can see why.

Like Piano Rock, the new book is gorgeously produced by Random House (it is hard cover) and has equally beautiful illustrations. Illustrations that belong in the time of the teddy (the 1950s)!

The book is an autobiography of a teddy, but it is also an autobiography of a boy (partly Gavin) as well as being a time machine as you get to go back to another time. I loved that! Boy gets to read Janet and John books (just like I got to read Janet and John when I was little). He gets to go the diary with his pocket money when he was 6. He loves doing spelling (just like I did!). He gets to eat homemade (not shop bought!!!!) Louise cake, beetroot chutney (well it got made in the kitchen even if he didn’t eat it himself), and roast mutton.

You even get bits of history in this back-in-time travel. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing reach Mt Everest’s peak and Yvette William’s is New Zealand’s first woman to get an Olympic medal. There is even teddy-bear history to be discovered too! 2002 was marked as the 100th anniversary of the first teddy bear made.

Teddy One-eye is special because there is a special story story about him (this may or may not be true!). I love the way the Grandmother reminds everyone that Teddy One-eye is special and he needs to be looked after well. The teddy certainly knows what is going on in the world around him and he gets to be very good at reading. Boy loves him, then little baby brother loves him —  but he gets to spend days or years or months in all kinds of surprising places (the pot cupboard, a plastic bag).

Reading this book means you get to do all kinds of wonderful things: fall in love with a raggety (at times) teddy bear, go on adventures and go back in time. I loved the way this book made me think about my own toys and my own childhood and what I loved to do and what was important. It has scary bits, funny bits and even slightly sad bits.

Bravo Gavin Bishop! This book is a treasure trove. I loved it very much indeed.

A Christchurch Hot Spot Poetry Tour event photo album thanks to Paul Koster

Take the lovely Russely School Hall, loads of young participants, a handful of local authors, two new books, an audience of 200 plus, poems new and old —  and you get one very good event.

I didn’t know at the time, but Jenny Cooper, the very cool illustrator of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children, was in the audience. If I had known, we would have made a song and dance about her fabulous illustrations. Yes I would have sung a song for her! Her heavenly illustrations transform the book into the treasure box that it is. I keep replaying the whole event in my mind and these photos bring it all back. Thanks to a Russley parent for them (only Russley School children in these as we only had permission to post participants from that school). But great offerings from Fendalton School, Lyttelton School, Ilam School and Selwyn House amongst others. In one photo, you can see Caleb reading his poem from The Treasury and in other Ewen and Monica reading their pieces from the back of The Letterbox Cat. Special guests! A highlight at the end … a magnificent performance of Apirana Taylor’s poem, ‘haka.’ Definitely deserved that high five!

IMG_0463Russley IMG_0483Russley IMG_0480Russley IMG_0475Russley IMG_0476RussleyS1000003IMG_0414Russley  IMG_0460Russley IMG_0458Russley IMG_0453Russley IMG_0431Russley IMG_0429Russley IMG_0410Russley  IMG_0427Russley IMG_0425Russley IMG_0422Russley IMG_0418Russley ??????? ????????????? IMG_0398RussleyIMG_0494Russley IMG_0492Russley IMG_0491Russley IMG_0490Russley IMG_0488Russley


The Treasury Interviews: Daniel interviews Gavin Bishop — I like poems that rhyme


Bio about Gavin Bishop: Gavin Bishop is a very well known illustrator and writer of children’s books. He grew up in the South Island and he lives in Christchurch now. His first book is called Mrs McGinty and the Bizarre Plant and was published in 1981. He has won a lot of awards for writing and illustrating. Now he writes and illustrates books for his full time job. Gavin has a new book out in time for Christmas called, Teddy One-Eye (Random House, 2014)


Bio about Daniel Lovewell: Daniel Lovewell is 5 years old and lives in Porirua with his whole family. His favourite things in the world are books and cats and books about cats. He started reading when he was two years old and started writing poems when he was four. He also loves music and is going to be very famous one day.


The Interview:

What is your favourite kind of poem? I like poems that rhyme.

Have you had any poems written by school kids read to you? A few. But I don’t remember what they were, sorry.

Do you think good picture books need to rhyme? No. Most picture books are not written in rhyme. Mainly people who are not very good at writing try to write stories in rhyme.

What’s the best thing about being an author? Talking to people like you.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? An artist. I am not sure I knew what an artist was though. And in those days very few people could live by being an artist without having another job.

Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? I like Margaret Mahy and I like The Hobbit.

What is your normal working day like? When I am working on a book, I work all day from about 9am to about 5pm. At the moment though I am cleaning up the garden because we have not been living in our house for 6 months and the place is a big mess.


What a great interview thanks Daniel and Gavin. Gavin has one long, deliciously fun poem in A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children called ‘Raisin’ Chickens.’ Gavin is an extraordinary illustrator as this range of his book covers shows.

1869416120 9781869790479 9781869419028 PianoRockcompo.indd 9781877467165 9781877467790 9781869790721 9781775537274 9781775534877 kiwimooncoverfin.indd 1869430654 9781869433819 9781869417901

An EYE catching book by Gavin Bishop

I am a big fan of New Zealand writing so, even though this is a poetry blog, this year I will tell you about new books I like the look of– stories, picture books, non-fiction as well as poetry! Here is one to start with.

cv_bidibidi   cv_bidibidi

Gavin Bishop is one of my favourite New Zealand illustrators because his illustrations catch my eye every time and I just say, ‘Wow!’ And he writes tories too!

Scholastic has reissued and redesigned Gavin’s classic book Bidibidi and it is especially beautiful. I wish I could tell exactly how the illustrations are done but it looks like some kind of water colour (not oils) and ink pen. Such fine detail! Such gorgeous colours.

This is the story of a groany, moany sheep who lives in the high country of New Zealand. She always wants to be somewhere else (like under that rainbow she spots).

Stella the Kea nags at her to change her life if she doesn’t like it (at this point the story could take off to a marvelous anywhere!). And so it does.

Bidibidi finds all kinds of excitements and dangers— and where she ended up was a surprise to me!

This book has also been released in Te Reo Maori.

Gavin Bishop, Bidibidi, Scholastic, 2014 (first published in 1982 by Oxford University Press)

Gavin Bishop talks to Poetry Box: From tying knots to telling a good story


Gavin Bishop is a children’s author and illustrator living in Christchurch (like Bill Manhire he was born in Invercargill). He has written and illustrated lots of children’s books, many of which have won awards. If you hold both your arms out straight you could line up all the awards he has won along one arm, and all the books he has written and/or illustrated along the other. He used to be an art teacher in a high school and studied at the Fine Art School at Canterbury. In 2009, Storylines honoured Gavin by starting the Gavin Bishop Award for children’s illustrators. You can see the Storylines page here.

Gavin’s illustrations are like poetry — so beautifully crafted, with gorgeous colours, characters that are full of warmth, movement and humanness. You pick up a book by Gavin and it is always a thing of beauty. In my view, he is one of our very best illustrators, which makes him a national taonga. I have posted some of his book covers so you can see he has many illustrations up his sleeves!

9781877467257 9781877467240 9781877467615 9781877467677 9780143505570 9781869794491 thumb_160160226234240Weaving 9781869790516 9781775530176 9781869790349 9781869790745 97817755325769781877467929

You can find out more about Gavin Bishop at his New Zealand Book Council page. You can also find out more about Gavin by reading his wonderfully written story of his childhood, Piano Rock (Random House).

Gavin has also written a number of his books — he knows the magic of keeping things simple when you write. This means his books are excellent to read aloud.

Gavin kindly agreed to answer some questions for Poetry Box:


What did you like to write when you were little?   What did you like to draw?

I used to write lots of haunted house stories. I read a lot of ghost

stories and fairy stories. I guess it was the usual boy’s interest in

horror, especially as I became an adolescent. I also ventured into the world

of horror films when I was far too young and had endless, tortured nights

filled with bad dreams that disturbed me for many years.


What did else did you like to do in your spare time?

Not much. I was in the Boys’ Brigade briefly but I hated the military

style marching and the strong religious overtones. I seem to remember being

made to feel guilty about nearly everything, especially lepers. Learning to

tie knots was fun but entirely useless because I never had the urge to

runaway to sea. In my teenage years I read a lot and mowed the lawns at the

Methodist church to make enough money to go to the movies every Saturday



Name three of your favourite New Zealand children’s books. What do you like about them?    [they don’t have to be poetry]

Can’t think of any I read when I was a kid. There weren’t many around. It

was as an adult I became aware of early New Zealand books like Rifle and

Tomahawk by Mona Tracy. But now things are very different. NZ publishes

many, many excellent books, so many I can’t keep up with what is being

produced. Three of favourites? Let me see…..

For a start there is Old Hu-hu by Kyle Mewburn and Rachel Driscoll. And

See Ya, Simon by David Hill. There are lots of others but I’ll single out

Margaret Mahy’s, The Pirates’ Mix-up Voyage. This is definitely one of my



Do you have any favourite poetry books for children?

Not New Zealand ones, except for collections used in NZ schools when I

was a kid in the 1950s such as Fresh Fields chosen by E.W. Parker and

published by Longmans. I used to love books like this. You could open them

at any page and dip into them, reading poems that you just came across. Most

of the poetry I read though was in the Cole’s Funny Picture Books from

Australia. Some of these poems are really bad but these are probably still

my favourites.


You are really good at writing and drawing. What do you think is important

when you write a story book?  What about when you do an illustration?

I write mainly picture books, where the words and pictures tell a story

together. My main aim, whether I’m writing or drawing is to tell a good

story. Without that, your book will never be any good no matter how well

drawn the pictures are or how moving the text might be.


Do you have any tips for young writers (or drawers)?

Read lots of fiction. Watch lots of movies. Do lots of drawing and keep a

notebook or journal.


Thank you Gavin!

NZ Post Children’s Book Awards

Book  awards can be nerve wracking times. My heart goes out to all those who didn’t get a gong and my delight goes out to all those who did. I was really impressed with the flurry of inventive activity that celebrated the shortlisted books throughout New Zealand. Bravo organisers!

I have read a number of the shortlisted books and I certainly had some favourites. Kate De Goldi generously answered some questions for Poetry Box ( May 19, 2013 — and I talked about what I loved about The ACB of Honora Lee). But I also loved Barbara Else‘s The Queen and the Nobody Boy. This is a book that is deliciously imaginative with exquisite detail. You enter the world of the book and you want to stay awhile! I really enjoyed Racheal King’s  Red Rock. This is like a beautifully written fable that is also grounded in the real world. David Hill‘s novel Mr Brother’s War won Best Junior Fiction and I was happy for David. His book takes you into the grip and guts of war in ways that are both complex and moving. It’s ages since I have read it — now I want to read it again ( I will publish one of David’s poems on Poetry Box sometime this year). I highly recommend all these books!

queen_0   my-brothers-war   whistler   melu-picture

AAhhh! Picture books. I love children’s picture books. And these two winners are heavenly. I have already flagged Mr Whistler on Poetry Box (March 28, 2013) — Gavin Bishop‘s lively illustrations and Margaret Mahy‘s brilliant story are a treat. This won best picture book. Later this year Kyle Mewburn is going to answer some questions for Poetry Box and I will share what I love abut his books. There is a poet lurking inside this fabulous storyteller that’s for sure. He knows what to do with words to make them sing and gleam. I was happy he won the children’s choice award. Well deserved!

A YA book won the top prize: ‘Ted Dawe’s book Into the River won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and was also the winner of the Young Adult Fiction category.  This engaging coming of age novel follows its main protagonist from his childhood in small town rural New Zealand to an elite Auckland boarding school where he must forge his own way – including battling with his cultural identity.’

Simon Morton and Riria Hotere won Best Non-Fiction with 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa. Will have to get a copy of this!

100-tales in-the-river

Now all the authors can get back to the real world of writing and reading and visiting schools and cooking dinner and driving children to school and feeding dogs and cats and walking on the beach or in the bush or up mountains and flying in aeroplanes and riding bikes and catching ideas and trains and going to the library and bookshops and watching movies and answering the phone and sending emails and posting letters.