Tag Archives: Mary McCallum

Gemma loves Dappled Annie and her local library


Gemma has tried two challenges I have had on the go.  I love her book review and her library poem so I am sending her a copy of A Treasury of NZ Poetry for Children.

I had asked you all to write a poem about your favourite library and to write book reviews of NZ books. I am still happy for you to review NZ books (any genre) or to write poems about your favourite library.

Gemma has written a review of one of my favourite Junior Fiction books of 2014: Mary McCallum’s Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press).

Coincidentally another of my favourites was Barbara Else‘s The Volume of Possible Endings (Gecko Press) and Gemma reviewed the first book in the series here.  I love both of these authors because they have extraordinary imaginations and can write really really well.

Gemma goes to Adventure School In Whitby and is in Y5 and aged 9.




I really like the way Gemma’s Poirirua Library poem is like a song. The commas in the middle of the lines help show how it is to be sung. I think Porirua Library is very cool too.  I did an event there last year and enjoyed meeting the fabulous librarian, Bee. Gemma and her brother Daniel are reading in the photos below.


Porirua Library

(To the tune of Count on Me by Bruno Mars)

Oh uh-huh…
If you ever find yourself near Porirua Library
Come on in they’d love, to see you
If you ever find yourself lost for a book just like me
The librarians there, will guide you

Find all the best stories
‘Coz Bee is there to help you when you choose

At Porirua Library, all the kids like me
Will be there
And every holidays
There’s a challenge to do that is so cool
Must be there
‘Cause that’s what library friends love to do
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

If you’re clapping and you’re cheering
On a cushion with your ukulele

We’ll sing the songs beside you
And if you ever get the chance to come and hear Sally read
I know she will, inspire you

Find out what’s exciting
When we go to our favourite library

At Porirua Library, you’ll see kids like me
On comfy chairs
And I know in the summer
There’s a festival that is so cool
Must be there
‘Cause that’s what Porirua kids all do
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

Look at the story telling chair

And you will see it’s awesome and so cool
You know…

At Porirua Library, if you’re someone like me
You’ll be there
And whatever you are into
Puzzles, books, movies, or shows to please
It’s free there
‘Coz that’s what our librarians do for you
Ooooooh….oooohhh… yeah, yeah…

Porirua Library is always there for you


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Here is the fabulous Bee Trudgeon!


… and Sally Warburton



t h a n k y o u      G e m m a !



‘A leaf is just a beginning’ poem (after Mary McCallum)

dappled-annie  dappled-annie

I challenged you to write a poem using the first sentence of Mary McCallum’s delicious novel Dappled Annie and the Tigrish … as the first line of a poem.

Ewen has written a poem that is surprising. I love the way a leaf is like the start of things (a new page, a new life, a new tree, a new beginning). I especially like the last verse of this poem. I love the idea of this secret … it is like we always carry beginnings with us. Great job Ewen. Thanks to the kind Mary you will receive a signed copy of her book.

A leaf is just

the beginning

of your life,

showing you confusion

peace and strife.


Directing you left

or directing you right,

showing you the way

to the brightest light.


The leaf is kept

deep inside,

in the heart

where it can hide.


Ewen aged 11, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch


Reading Dappled Annie on the plane … and a challenge for you



When I fly on planes I like to do a cryptic crossword puzzle and then read a book. This time I had Mary McCallum’s beautiful Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press, 2014)It is a gorgeous book to hold (this is important) and it has delicious illustrations that catch your EYE.

In this story trees are very important. They can do extraordinary things because they are characters — not just trunks and leaves.

Annie is the main character and she is intrepid (bold, daring). After an earthquake, she and her brother set off  to find the missing trees and her missing father.

It is a bit like a fable, something magical, and something altogether wonderful to read.

Mary’s sentences are like little jewels. Here is a favourite: ‘her eyes shimmered in the gathered dark.’  It is a bit like poetry the way she has put ‘gathered’ in there.

So I highly recommend you read this book. Let me know what you think.

a    n    d  .  .  .  .  .  .

I gave you a challenge to write a poem using Mary’s first sentence. Mary has KINDLY donated a copy of the book as a prize. She will sign it for you! I will post my favourites and pick a winner.

Here is the challenge (Go here for some tips on first lines):

Some challenges:

1. Go on a hunt for first lines in other poems. Which ones do you like? Choose a favouritefirst line and then write a poem to go with it. Tell me where the first line comes from in a note at the bottom.

2. Or test out some of your own first lines and then pick one to write a poem for.

3. Or use this line by Mary McCallum as the first line of your poem:

A leaf is just the beginning.

This is the first line to her new novel for children, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish but I think it would make a great first line for a poem. I am about to fly to Wellington so I have her novel in my bag to read it. I can’t wait as the title of the book and the first line hooked me. I will let you know what I think of it! It is published by Gecko Press 2014.

DEADLINE for your challenge: Thursday March 20th

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, year, age and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email. PLEASE say it’s for the first-line, poem challenge.