Tag Archives: NZ author

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)

Reading Festival: Bill Nagelkirke says books are like old friends


Bill Nagelkerke is a writer and translator living in Christchurch. He has some very tasty poems you will get to see in A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children next year.

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What kind of books did you like to read? I enjoyed lots of different books. Some favourites included the Rupert annuals, Enid Blyton’s Tales of brave adventure and the Tom Swift series of science fiction stories. The Rupert annuals gave me one of my early introductions to poetry, as each of the illustrations was accompanied by a rhyming couplet.

What did the library mean to you? We went every week. I was always on the lookout for the latest Tintin or Asterix adventure.

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Do you remember being read to? Yes, definitely. My mother in particular read stories to us. She loved books and reading.

Was there a book that stood out that a teacher read to you? I have a vivid memory of a teacher reading Elsie Locke’s The Runaway Settlers. It had just been published. This was probably the first time I heard a story where events were happening in a place close to where I lived, not somewhere else altogether. It made me look at those places differently.

Runaway settlers  Runaway settlers

What did books mean to you? How did they add to your life? I borrowed books from the library and bought my own books, too. I seemed to have kept a lot of them! They’re like old friends, and full of memories.

Do you still read children’s books? Do you have a favourite this week? All the time. I’ve just finished Geraldine McCaughrean’s latest, The Middle of Nowhere, set in Australia. I feel it’s not her best book but, as always, her writing sings. She chooses her words so carefully.

Reading Festival: Competition number 3 for children and schools


To celebrate Margaret Mahy’s Dashing Dog book (with illustrations by Donovan Bixley),

I invite you to write a poem about a dog. Juicy words are welcome!

Thanks to HarperCollins I have a copy of the book to give to my favourite poem. I will post my favourites as they arrive and the winner will be announced on Friday November 29th.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. Include your teacher’s name and email address if you can.

see my review of Margaret’s book here

David Hill has window cleaners cleaning the sun!

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David Hill is a great story writer but he also writes tasty poems (he has written some of my favourite NZ novels for children including See Ya Simon). He is latest novel for Young Adults, My Brother’s War, just won the Children’s Choice Award at The New Zealand Post Book Awards and the Librarians’ Choice at the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards. I highly recommend this book as David is very good at writing about tough subjects in such a way you don’t want to put the book down. You get into the grip of his story and you don’t want to leave! That’s skill.

David’s poems often tell stories (and there is nothing wrong with that, the poet James Brown once said all good poems tell stories). David’s poems also have a sense of humour and use zany similes. So the combination of humour and story can be a perfect mix for poetry. Have a go and send me what you come up with (paulajoygreen@gmail.com). Don’t forget your details. David’s poems are dotted throughout the School Journals. If you have read one that you loved, add a comment to this post and tell me which one it was. I love David’s poem about the window-cleaner trying to wipe the sun. I think he also mixes up bits of his imagination with bits of what he sees and experiences into a great poetry brew. I have posted the window-cleaner poem at the bottom. I love the image it makes in my mind knowing I would be too scared to climb such a tottering ladder.

I sent David some questions and this is what he wrote back:

I feel a bit awkward, writing about poetry. That’s because I’m not a good poet [editor disagrees!]. Quite often, I’m a rotten poet. I mainly write novels, plays, stories. Which is funny, really, because at school, I learned heaps of poems off by heart (and I’m glad I did; it’s cool being able to recite them to yourself). Plus I still read poetry. But I write only 1….2….sometimes three poems a year, and most are so bad, I never show them to anyone.

I’d like to be able to write like Glenn Colquhoun, Elizabeth Smither, Sam Hunt, Margaret Mahy, other excellent NZ poets. I’d like to be able to make marvellous comparisons, see things from interesting angles, have really original rhythms and rhymes or part-rhymes like them. But I always seem to end up telling a story, which I usually write as…..well, a story.

But I do like trying to write funny poems. I enjoy taking something weird (a window-cleaner on a high building, who seemed to be wiping the Sun that was reflected in the glass), and imagining other strange things such a person might seem to be cleaning. I always enjoy writing about my mistakes (trying to impress a girl when I was at school by writing stories, or tripping over on the footpath while I was watching a leaf fall). I believe people always enjoy reading about other’s blunders!

Reading other people’s books and poems always helps give me ideas, as well as giving me pleasure. There are some excellent NZ poetry books around; try Poetry Pudding, edited by Jenny Argante; 100 NZ Poems, edited by Bill Manhire, and Flamingo Bendalingo by Paula Green – yes, the same Paula who runs this website, and who will be very embarrassed I’ve mentioned her.

And of course, I try to write poems and stories about the activities that I’m keen on. I belong to an Astronomy Club, an Archery Club, a Walking Group, and I’ve written about all those. I’m never able to write a whole poem or story from scratch, the way some people can. I always scribble ideas, lines, people’s names in a notebook – maybe just five minutes one day; ten minutes the next day; another ten minutes three days after that. Slowly, the framework of the story / poem builds up. I’m always reading my stuff aloud to myself; that helps a lot with sentences and words. And I never, never NEVER throw any of my writing ideas away; you never know when you’re going to get an idea on how to improve it.

So – good luck with your own writing. Read heaps. Scribble heaps. Steal heaps of ideas from what your friends do and say. And don’t you dare throw any of it away……


Window Cleaners


There they were this morning,


High up on an office block.




One was polishing the sun,


Another rinsing fleecy clouds,


A third rubbing the blue sky.




If I come back tonight,


Will they still be there –




One scrubbing the shooting stars,


Another washing the moon,


A third wiping down the Milky Way?



© David Hill


This Week on NZ Poetry Box: Remember when Nana and Granddad


Last week I read a wonderful book which made me change what I was going to do on Poetry Box this week. I read A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic 2013) and got caught up in another time. Melinda wrote the story of her father and his family when he was twelve. They had been forced to leave Poland and go and work in a Russian labour camp round about the time World War II was starting. They had to leave behind almost everything and live in a place that was tough, freezing and had hardly any food. Melinda used her father’s notebooks to help write the story. I loved the way this children’s novel opened a window wider on time when terrible things were happening in the world (unfortunately they still are).

So I thought it would be really great to set a challenge that involved two things: memory and our grandparents or our parents. It is time to go hunting for their memories and turn them into little poems (see below).

This week on NZ Poetry Box it’s all about memory. On Monday I will set you a memory challenge, on Tuesday I will give you some sizzling memory-poem tips and starting points, on Wednesday it is time for poetry play so we will think backwards, on Thursday I am posting an interview with one of my favourite children’s poets, Peter Bland, and on Friday I want to play with CAPITAL letters.

The Poetry Challenge:   

I challenge you to ask an older relation (Mum or Dad or Nana or Granddad) about a memory they have from their childhood. It might be something that happened to them and it might be funny or sad or exciting or interesting. It might be a memory that shows how things were different when they were young. This challenge can come through a school, a writing group or an individual child. I am excited!

It might help to write down words as your relative shares their memory. You could visit them or telephone them or write them a letter or email them. You might have to ask them questions to get them to talk more about their memory.

You have until June 13th (nearly three weeks) to do this challenge, because I am really excited about it (I want to do this challenge!)!

I will give you tips, and starting points during the week (especially tomorrow.

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include your teacher’s name and email address if you like. This is of course also open to home-schooled children.

There are two prizes. An older child (up to Year 8 or 9) will get a copy of A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik published by Scholastic NZ in 2013.

A younger child will get a copy of The Song of the Ship Rat (2013) by the fabulous Ben Brown and Helen Taylor thanks to Scholastic NZ. This book, with Helen’s gorgeous illustrations and Ben’s sizzling words, is full of the memories of a rat at sea.


This Week on Poetry Box

This week (unlike other weeks) I have no idea what I will post each day as I have so much on. Tomorrow I am flying to Wellington for the second launch of my book — and with a new book out  I am really lucky to have some interviews to do. It is always fun (and slightly scary) talking about what you have just written. I always hope I find the words to answer the questions because it is not the same as sitting at your computer typing away at your own pace (as I am doing now!) and a delete key at your fingertips. So an exciting week for me.

I have been at the Auckland Writers and Readers festival all weekend and I am full to the brim with new words and ideas and books to read. I got to hear Kate De Goldi read from The ACB of Honora Lee and that was such a highlight. The words make magic on the page and they most definitely make magic in the air.

Check out the interview she did for Poetry Box last week (Wednesday).

SO I am just reminding you ALL to have a go at a story poem ( a poem that has a little story in it about a place or a person or something that happened). You have until Thursday 23rd 6pm to send to me at paulajoygreen@gmail.com.

My second challenge this week is to give you another chance to interview me (it seems fitting in my week of interviews). It can be a class set of questions or an individual set. I have done this once with a class from Roydvale School so see if you can come up with some different questions. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by Friday May 24th. I will post the interview next week.

A Poetry Bonanza on Poetry Box and my leapy cat poem (not!)

Today is the last day of Term One! Which means tomorrow is the first day of the holidays and the beginning of our poetry bonanza. First I have posted a poem I wrote about one of our cats then I have some more writing ideas for you.


Our Cat


A frisky cat

a whisker cat

a flippy flappy zippy cat.


A sniffy cat

a hissy cat

a dishy dashy darty cat.




Our cat likes to lounge and laze,

she likes the fire on winter days

she likes my lap, she likes to nap.


A sleepy cat, a slow cat

a stretched-out-on-the-couch cat.


© Paula Green 2013




Here are some ideas for the school holidays if you want to send things to NZ Poetry Box.


1. Write a letter about a book you love or a poem you love or an author you love to read.


2. Choose any challenge I have already posted and give that a go.


3. Try writing a funny poem with a fish, a cat and a hat in it.


4. Try writing another funny poem with spaghetti, shoes and a bird in it.


5. Try writing a poem about the funniest thing that ever happened to you (you can make this up if you like).


6. Try writing a poem about the strangest thing that has happened to you (you can also make this up if you like!).


7. Try writing a poem about your earliest memory.


8. Try writing a poem about what you would like to do in the holidays if you had super powers and could do anything.


9. Try rewriting my hat poem and putting your own things in it (look for the poem on my blog on April 12th).


10. Try writing a poem about your favourite toy but you can only use twelve words.


Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year, name of school. Sayb it is for the holiday bonanza.


Happy Holidays young writers and thank you so much for making this a fun and inspiring project. Bravo!


John Parker & Elena de Roo go listing

If you go hunting for list poems by other poets you will discover a real treasure trove. Reading poems by other writers is such a great way to take your own writing on adventures. Try doing your version of the poem you discover. Change things about it. Use their pattern, but put your own words in it.

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Elena de Roo has written a list of green things, but she has played with the pattern a little and not every line begins with green (both ways work!). She has some great rhyme that helps glue the poem together (soar, draw) and (castle, freckle).

Green, My Crayon

I choose green with dappled speckles

green as sea glass

green as green grass

green as leaves with yellow freckles

Green as sea, and sky, and shore

green, the tower and turret door

in winds of green, its banners soar

green, my castle

green, I draw

©  Elena de Roo


John Parker has written a really cool list poem that is made up of dialogue! It has a definite pattern and a surprising but perfect ending (especially if you are like me and like crisp apples).

Drop, Drop

‘Drop drop,’ said the wind to the seed.

‘Reach, reach,’ said the earth to the root.

‘Drink, drink,’ said the rain to the plant.

‘Up, up,’ said the sun to the tree.

‘Out, out,’ said the tree to the branch.

‘Burst, burst,’ said the branch to the bud.

‘Open. open,’ said the bee to the blossom.

‘Ripen, ripen,’ said the blossom to the apple.

‘Eat, eat,’ said the apple to me ——

So I did!

©  John Parker

This week on NZ Poetry Box and Holiday Challenges

This week we are still playing with list poems. Today, though, I am going tell you about the school holiday challenge. On Tuesday it’s time for poetry play, on Wednesday I will post list poem by Elena de Roo and John Parker, on Thursday I will post my favourite poems from the list-poem challenge (and the winner) and on Friday I will post a poem by a secondary-school student (fingers-crossed!).

NZ Poetry Box is a blog aimed at students up to Year 8 but some secondary students have started following it. So here is your chance. I challenge you to write a list poem (Year 9 to Year 13). Catch up on what Bill Manhire says about list poems (April 11), check out my tips (April 9) and get writing! Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by Thursday 5pm. Include your name, age, year and name of school.

Next week the school holidays begin and I would love to post at least a poem a day by a child. This is a safe site for young children and a perfect place to play with words during the holidays. I am happy to post your letters and comments. Get Mum or Dad or Gran to help you.

I will give you some mini challenges throughout this week — but as a holiday challenge you could try one of Bill Manhire’s ideas that he posted last Thursday.  Send your poems to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year school. Include your teacher’s name and email if you like. Say it is for the holiday challenge.

Here are Bill’s ideas. I want to try them too!

1. Try imagining what it’s like to be something else, and write as if you are that something else. Maybe you could be an elephant that’s sick of being in the circus. Or an iceberg that’s melting. Or an asteroid that’s about to hit the earth. Or maybe you could write a conversation (or a love poem!) between a stalagmite and a stalactite.

2. Write a brand new nursery rhyme, and put your best friend in it.

3. Write a poem where every line begins with the words “I remember”, but every memory is made-up.

During the holidays, I would also love to post ideas from teachers and parents on writing poems. A single idea or two in a paragraph or two.

A Hat Poem

I decided to write a poem with a list of things somebody keeps in a very tall hat. I wanted the things to rhyme in different parts of the poem. I kept playing around with where I would put the things in the poem. I had a whole list of things Mrs Magee might keep in her hat and then I chose the ones that worked the best.

Feel free to write your version of my poem and send it to me: paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Don’t forget to include your name, age, class and school. You can include your teacher’s name and email address if you want.

The Hat

Inside Mrs Magee’s hat

you will find a cat

a door stop, a rolling pin

a rubbish bin, a floor mop

a game of Pictionary

an English dictionary

some very baggy pants

and an overcrowded nest of ants,

some bickering bees

and a nephew that’s hard to please.

With such a menagerie

the hat is terrifyingly tall

and Mrs Magee keeps

her poor head bald!

© Paula Green  Macaroni Moon illustrations by Sarah Laing published by Random House 2009