Tag Archives: Kyle Mewburn

Hot-Spot Poetry in Queenstown and Arrowtown is as magnificent as the scenery

I’m back home today catching up on everything before I start back on the Hot Spot Poetry Tour events in Auckland and Tauranga tomorrow (they run until Nov 8th).

The first stage of my tour ended in Arrowtown and Queenstown for a few days, and it was simply wonderful. Yes, spectacular scenery that itches to take shape in the form of a poem. Yes, the lakes that gleam and make you stand still to look. But yes too, to  the  warm and friendly people, the scrumptious food, the keen children.

I had half a day at Arrowtown School (now this is one picturesque school!) where a small group of eager writers worked with me and then few hundred Juniors. I am not surprised such good writing comes out of this school with a teacher so dedicated to poetry as Wendy Clarke (she has a poem in the Treasury).

A quick visit to meet Maria Small and her writing group, and make up a cluster of poems. Loved this!

And then a half day session at Remarkables School (also unbelievably picturesque) with Juniors and then Seniors. This is another hot-spot school when it comes to writing and I got to see that live when we made up poems and shared ideas in the hall. I loved this so much too.

The Remarkables School evening event was a treat with Kyle Mewburn, Pauline Cartwright and Wendy Clarke reading poems (Brian Turner was sick) and the local children in the book (Lachy, Max and Becky). It was so good to meet them, to see how they are such passionate writers — like everywhere else I wish I had had enough time to stay and chat with them longer. We heard some great new poems and heard some terrific readings from the two poetry books from local children .

A big thanks to everyone who made my time at your place special — especially those hard working teachers. What a perfect way to finish the first part of my tour. Just perfect.

Here are some photos of the night event including one with Becky (the only child to have two poems in the book!). Man and Lachy have had quite a bit of media attention

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The Treasury Interviews: Kauri Class at Ormond School interview Kyle Mewburn — If I don’t write stories I think my brain will explode

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Kauri Class are a Year 2 class at Ormond School, near sunny Gisborne, on the East Coast of New Zealand. We are six and seven year olds and we LOVE to do art, especially painting. Our favourite art we have done so far is ‘Pirate ship charcoal art’, making a big cardboard pirate ship, painting Gerald the giraffe from Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, and drawing Cass the Colour Robber Man. We love to do art from our book characters.

We enjoy sharing our news with each other and we really like playing ‘Seaweed’ with Mrs. Gordon, our principal. Most of us like practicing handwriting! Our favourite writing is about animals, writing about trucks and diggers, and making up our own stories about things like ‘A Fun Bus’.

These are some of our ideas for when we get older…Ben L and Myles want to be a zookeeper or a vet, Joshua would like to be in the army, Noah and Ben A would like to be train drivers, Brian would like to be a Ninja, Tom would like to be a tractor driver, Myles, Georgia and Noah would like to be pilots, Ruby-Rhain would like to be a surfer, Tommy would like to be an archaeologist, Mia would like to be a ballerina, and some of us are still thinking about it! Koka Sarah would like to be a better surfer!

We hope you’ve learnt a little bit about us!

 

Kyle Mewburn

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Kyle Mewburn is an author of some of Kauri class’s favourite books, like Melu, Old Huhu, The Grumble Bee Kiss, Hill and Hole and Kiss, Yuck, Yuck. He has a fabulous long poem in A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children called ‘Rainy Day Washaway.’

He lives in a house that he built, with a grass roof, in the middle of nowhere, in the South of New Zealand, near the South Pole!

He sings to his veggies and we think he is awesome at writing books!

 

The Interview:

  1. How old are you? (Georgia)

I’m older than the hills and younger than the sun.

 

  1. Why do you live in the middle of nowhere? (Tommy)

Because I snore so loudly I’m too embarrassed to live close to people. Besides, the middle of nowhere is also halfway to somewhere, so it takes me the exact same time to drive to the sea as it takes to get to the mountain snow.

 

  1. Does your hand get tired from writing? (Mine does! Ben L.)

My hand used to get so tired my words would all fall asleep on the page and nobody could read them. Luckily someone discovered the typewriter, so my hands don’t get tired any more. Though my fingers do get a bit stiff after a whole day writing.

 

  1. Why do you swim in the river and what do you find in it? (Joshua & Ruby-Rhain)

I LOVE swimming in rivers, especially icy cold ones. There are lots of eels and trout in my river, and some gold as well (if you know where to look). But the best thing I always find when I’m swimming in the river, or even just sitting under a little waterfall on a hot day, is INSPIRATION. There are millions of ideas flowing past me every day.

 

  1. Have you found any gold in any rivers? (Tom)

I haven’t found any gold myself, but a friend who knows how to do gold-panning says he always finds tiny specks of gold. The gold miners took away most of the gold 150 years ago. But there’s a new dredge on the river that’s scooping up gravel from the river bottom and finding lots of gold.

 

  1. Why do you like writing books so much? (Tommy)

I’ve got lots of ideas, and if I don’t write stories I think my brain will explode.

 

  1. How did you get to be so good at writing? (Rheannon)

Practice, practice, practice. I just kept writing until my stories got better. I also listened to advice from clever people. Some days I still don’t think I’m very good at writing AT ALL. IN fact I think my stories SUCK! But if I keep writing it again and again, it slowly gets better. .. most of the time.

 

What a great interview Kyle and Kauri Class. Thank you! Kyle has written some of all-time favourite NZ picture books. Check out some of his covers.

9781775430988 9781869437596 9781865046594 9781921272752 9781869438470 9780143504535 9781869438975 9780143565987 9781775430278 9781869438265

Kyle on Poetry Box: Some of the best books in the world open little windows on what it’s like to be alive in this wonderful, bustling, beautiful world — that’s what Kyle Mewburn’s do.

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Kyle Mewburn has written some of my all-time favourite picture books for children. He was born in Brisbane, went roaming the world for awhile and has lived in New Zealand since 1990. He now lives in Central Otago where he gets to write and write and write (amongst other things!). He has won lots of awards. He won the Picture Book Category and the Children’s Choice Award at the 2007 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! His glorious picture book, Old Hu-hu, won the 2010 NZ Post Book of the Year Award. This Year Melu was shortlisted. You check out his web site here.

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There is no magic formula for writing a good picture book (you can’t buy it at the shop and hey presto you make story magic!), but Kyle seems to have the magic touch when it comes to writing for children. I reread three of his books at the weekend (Old Hu-hu, Hill & Hole and Melu). I am not going to tell you what happens in these books as that would spoil it, and I want you to go hunting for the books and read them yourself! So instead I will tell you why I think Kyle is an honorary poet and the bees-knees as a picture book writer (he does write other fabulous things but that is not what this post is about).

1. Kyle knows how to keep a story simple (just like some of the very best poems are really simple).

2. Every sentence is a little treat for the ear — they sing on the line.

3. His books are moving —  like watching  the sun go down and you think wow! that is just beautiful. But you don’t feel sick with feeling — it is always just the right amount.

4. You always want to read the book again and again.

5. Kyle’s stories have great characters with little challenges. I love the way Hill wants to be Hole and Hole wants to be a Hill.

6. His stories have little nuggets of humour, but they also have little nuggets of wisdom (he might not like me saying that, but it is true!).

7. He always finds a good way to end his stories that make you feel warm (even if you might have a tinge of sadness).

8. Some of the best books in the world open little windows on what it’s like to be alive in this wonderful, bustling, beautiful world — that’s what Kyle’s do. You feel better, for having read them

If that doesn’t send you in search of his books …. ! Let me know which is your favourite book by Kyle and I will post your letter. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school.

Kyle kindly agreed to answer some questions for Poetry Box:

What did you like to write when you were little?
Like most boys, I suspect, I liked writing thrilling action adventures
full of aliens and monsters. My stories weren’t bloody and violent though, they were generally funny with lots of weird and unexpected things happening.

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

I was rather sportsmad when I was young. I played soccer and basketball
and cricket and spent as much time as possible bodysurfing at the beach. I tried a few hobbies like stamp-collecting (boring!) or model plane making (I was way too clumsy and usually ended up with my finger stuck to the plane!) but never got excited about them.

Name three of your favourite New Zealand children’s books. What do you like about them?  

I didn’t grow up in NZ and don’t have children, so I have only recently
started reading NZ children’s books. Three books that immediately spring to mind are The Fat Man by Maurice Gee (because it is incredibly atmospheric and spooky – really gave me chills!); The Changeover by Margaret Mahy (because I love MM’s elegance and the rhythm of her writing. It was also a rivetingly sinister story.); and anything by Des Hunt, really (because they’re exactly the kind of exciting adventure stories I used to read when I was growing up).

Do you have any favourite poetry books for children?

I’m afraid not.

You are really good at writing stories. I think you have the ear of a poet as your words shine and your lines sing. What do you think is important when you write a story book?
I think it’s just as important to have rhythm in picture books (or any writing, really) as in poetry. Picture books are, like poetry, meant to be read aloud, so it’s vitally important to choose the right words. You can’t afford to waste a single word. I also think it’s incredibly important to let the story unfold in its own way, and in its own time. I try really hard to be honest with my stories. Sometimes that means the story ends up being totally different than what I imagined when I started. Kids are very clever (mostly) so they can tell if they’re being tricked or cheated.

What do you like to do in your spare time now?

I like gardening – but only growing stuff I can eat. We’ve also got
chickens and a couple of sheep, so we spend a lot of time just watching
them doing chickeny and sheepy things. It’s much more exciting and interesting than watching tv. Sometimes we even discover where our chooks are hiding their eggs. That’s always a wonderful surprise!

Have you ever written poems? (I think your picture books are like long, splendid poems!)
When I started writing “seriously” I wrote poems. I was travelling at the time so didn’t have a typewriter and my writing is so messy I wouldn’t have been able to read more than a few words. So poetry seemed the perfect option. I sometimes write poems but mostly just for fun. It’s good practice for picture books, too.

Do you have any tips for young writers?

Read. Read. Read. The more you read the more you start to get an idea of the difference between a brilliant story and an average one. But you have to be careful not to fall into the fan trap – by that I mean thinking because you love reading a certain type of story, you’ll be good at writing those types of stories. Every writer has their own unique voice and style (though it can take a long time to find out exactly what your writing voice sounds like). But sometimes our voice just doesn’t suit the kind of stories we love to read. For example, I always loved reading science fiction, so when I started writing seriously I imagined I’d become a famous sci-fi writer. Unfortunately, when I try to write sci-fi my writing gets very stiff and just doesn’t sound right. I think it’s because I’m trying too hard to write like my favourite sci-fi writers instead of writing like me. I tried all sorts of stories until I discovered my voice is perfect for picture books!

Thank you Kyle!

This Week on NZ Poetry Box: my bird-poem diary and one of my favourite picture book writers

This week on Poetry box it is easy — I am going to keep a bird-poem diary and hopefully each day I will post a poem. You could try it. You won’t know exactly what will happen because you won’t know what birds you will see. Check back for some writing bird-poem tips here.

Remember you can enter your bird poems in the competition. Details here.

I will also be posting some of your Spring poems.

AND the other special thing is that I am posting a fabulous interview I did with Kyle Mewburn. If you aren’t a fan of his picture books already … go on a hunt for one (I don’t care how old you are) and curl up and read it from cover to cover and enjoy every bit and bite of it. This is on THURSDAY 12th September.

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!

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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!

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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.