Tag Archives: Joy Cowley

Poetry Box review: Song of the River by Joy Cowley & Kimberly Andrews


My Groovy Fish poem challenge

My Groovy Fish holiday event invitations




Song of the River  by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Kimberley Andrews

Gecko Press, July 2019



Joy Cowley’s delightful story Song of the River was originally published 25 years ago but Gecko Press have published a new edition with gorgeous artwork by Kimberley Andrews.

Reading Joy’s story filled me with a warm hum that I carried with me all day.

Cam lives in the mountains and he tells his grandfather he wishes he could see the sea. One day a trickle of water – running through the trees and the snow – calls out to the boy:

‘Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.’

Joy writes like a poet as she tells her story; the words ripple and chatter over the stones of its telling. I am carried along by the voice of the water. I am enchanted by the sound as the water moves down the mountain. First it sounds like snow, then like a creek, then like a waterfall, and then like leaping trout. On and on it goes with Cam running along, the view changing, the river sounds changing, and always there is the pull of the sea.

Cam might wonder what the sea looks like but what will it sound like? You will find out!

This a story about a boy wanting to see the sea. It is about imagining. It is about beginnings and endings. It is about paying attention with ears and eyes. And it is absolute treat to read – you might fill with a warm hum too.


Reading the book made me want to write a poem!


Kimberley’s illustrations fill the landscapes with life and mood. She is a trained biologist who grew up in the Canadian Rockies  and now lives in  a shipping container tiny house in Wellington. In 2018 she illustrated Explore Aotearoa (shortlisted for NZ  Book Awards for Children and Young Adults). She also wrote and illustrated Puffin the Architect published last year.

Joy Cowley is one of our most beloved children’s authors. She has won many awards and honours including the Prime Minister’s Award for Contribution to Literature (Fiction). In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

# 102 A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Diane McCarthy (long-time fan) writes back to Joy Cowley

Thank you Joy.

I talked with Megan by cell last night. Megan accurately confirmed the plot and characters, and the misunderstandings between the parents and children that led to their actions to protect Shadrach. Megan’s highlight was the foal that was born afterwards! Megan now writes and performs indie music and teaches young emerging musicians at Naenae College. Still the writing about kiwi stories goes on!




A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Joy Cowley writes back to Diane McCarthy (long-time fan)



Kia ora Diane, That is such a lovely letter. Thank you. Shadrach was inspired by Blossom, an elderly Clydesdale who lived at the head of Kenepuru Sound. Being severely arthritic, Blossom chose to stand on the road rather than her cold paddock, and our children had to push her off so that we could drive on. Old horses have a habit of farting as they walk, so there was usually an argument as to who would do the pushing. When Blossom died in her paddock, the kindly road man brought in his digger to bury her, and we all said goodbye to a fine draught horse. But it wasn’t really goodbye, because then she became Shadrach,

Warm regards to you and yours, Diane,





A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Diane McCarthy (long-time fan) writes to Joy Cowley




Kia ora Joy Cowley.

I am 67, and my daughter who is 33. We both love your book, Bow Down Shadrach.

When Megan was young, I had a job where I had to travel away from home, and visit teachers in schools. I visited bookshops in Nelson, Blenheim and Wellington. We read each new book together when I returned.

We liked this story best because it was about children being kind to an old horse. We loved it because it was set in the Marlborough Sounds where my father, Megan’s Grand Dad Jock, lived as a boy. You lived there too.

Thank you for writing real kiwi stories for kiwi kids. You can’t do better than that!


Nga mihi Diane McCarthy.

A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Ethan (7) writes to Joy Cowley




Dear Mrs Joy Cowley 

I love your books, they are one of a kind and now I can copy your special skills. You are my favourite New Zealand author. I like Mrs Wishy Washy Makes a Splash because the animals didn’t want to go in the bath. It made me laugh when they went back in the mud. 

I really like your book with 8 stories in it called Wishy-Washy World. I didn’t think there was a Mr Wishy Washy and in one of the books I like it because they play music and the animals play along. In Wishy Washy Road it was kind of funny because the police man said that all the animals had to get off the road. 

Your books are so good!


Aged 7 Year 3 

St Francis Primary School 




A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: Joy Cowley writes back to William, Renita, Francesca, Tyla and Isla,

Your letters are so delicious I nearly ate them! Thank you for writing to me. Do you write your own stories? When I want to write a story I need two things – a character, and something that happens. If you like, you can borrow Greedy Cat as your character. What happens in your story?

Maybe Greedy Cat comes to school and eats your teacher’s lunch. Then what happens? Can you think of some good ideas?


With love from Joy Cowley ( Greedy Cat’s mother. )




A festival of letters to NZ children’s authors: William, Renita, Francesa, Tyla and Isla write to Joy Cowley



Dear Joy Cowley 

I read Wishy Washy Wonder and I loved it. The part that I liked was when the animals made a card for Mrs Wishy Washy. This showed the animals were very kind to do that. Mrs Wishy Washy is great and I think you are too. 

We have a huge cardboard Mrs Wishy Washy and the animals on the wall in our library. 


Aged 8 Year 4 

St Francis Primary School 


Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 4.51.18 PM.png


Dear Joy 

You are my favourite New Zealand author. You come up with very good stories and funny ones. I like Greedy Cat because these books helped me to read but also Cowshed Christmas. I love the part at the end when the secret is revealed and all the animals see that Jesus is born. 



Aged 8 Year 4 

St Francis Primary School 

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 4.52.29 PM.png

Hello Joy

I read Greedy Cat and the Sneeze. It is my favourite because it is easy for me to read. Greedy Cat is always hungry so Katie has to feed him.

Katie likes to play with her dolls.


Aged 9 Year 4

St Francis Primary School




Dear Joy Cowley 

I love your books especially the Greedy Cat ones and they inspire me to read and write all the time. I have been reading them since I was small. My favourite is Greedy Cat and the Pet Show because all the pet animals are so cute.


Aged 8 Year 4 

St Francis Primary School




Dear Joy Cowley 

I have read many of your books like Breakfast, Cricket’s Storm and The Remarkable Cake Shop but your Greedy Cat books are the best as they taught me to read. I remember the first book I read by myself was Greedy Cat and The Goldfish and I loved it because it made me want a cat of my own. I still don’t have one but I will keep asking for one.

My Mum would always read them to me too as bedtime stories. It was the same every night “More, more! Please, pretty please’ 

“Alright,” my Mum would say. 

Can you tell me what inspired you to write all those books about a cat? 

Thank you 


Aged 8 Year 4 

St Francis Primary School