Tag Archives: NZ children’s author

Barbara Else’s The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania …. magnificent marvellous magical mesmerising

The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania Barbara Else, Gecko Press

I loved the first two books in this series very much indeed (The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy). Both books show a dynamo imagination at work and an ear that knows how to make a good sentence. These novels sing as you read, but more importantly they take you into a world that catches hold of you on every stoney path and in every mysterious corner.

9781927271377   9781927271377   9781927271377   9781927271377

Barbara’s new book serves music and magic in equal measure. The detail is magnificent. The sentences marvellous. The characters magical. The story mesmerising. Ahh!!

In this story, we meet the only child in Owl Town: twelve-year-old Dorrity. It doesn’t take long to realise there is something special about her, something mysterious. I love her boldness. Her cunning. The way she pays attention to things. Little things. Big things.  Dorrity tumbles headlong into a gritty adventure that hurtles her away from the peace and quiet and routines of Owl Town.

I love Dorrity as a character, but I especially love the extra strange Metalboy. As soon as I met the beginnings of him in the first pages I was hooked. He may be made of metal (at first), but he is a character you really care about. It matters what happens to him. And things do happen to him!

I love the way you can’t see everything in easy-peasy black and white. Good and bad stick to some characters like tufts of hair.

Oh and I love Owl Town. I like the way the people band together and make especially good plans and look out for the town’s only girl.

In this list of loves, I also need to mention the book Dorrity discovers that is all to do with  her — and that has five different endings for her that are very puzzling!

This book comes with a TIPTOP recommendation from me and is one of my favourite reads of the year.

The Treasury Interviews: Giselle interviews Fifi Colston

Fifi Head shot 2014   Wearable-Wonders-pages-and-cover

Fifi Colston Fifi Colston was born in Yorkshire, U.K and came to New Zealand in 1968. She left to go to England for two years, then came back and settled in Wellington. Fifi writes and illustrates books and has illustrated over 33 books and her illustrations can be seen in NZ School Journals, as well as on book jackets for publishers including: Scholastic, Learning Media, Shortlands, MacMillan and Longman Paul. Fifi’s book, Wearbale Wonders, won the LIANZA Elsie Locke Medal for Non Fiction this year. She has a blog called Fifi Verses the World.

About Me My name is Giselle. I’m a 10 year old, in Year 5 and I love to read and write. I live in Queenstown, New Zealand. I have a great imagination which can come in handy in writing.

The Interview

Who was your inspiration, that made you want to become a writer ?

If I look back a long, long way, it was the first book I can remember being able to read ‘all by myself’. I was 5 and the book was The Silver Thimble Storybook by Rie Cramer who was a Dutch illustrator and writer and the book was her retelling of fairytales like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Cinderella.’ I loved her pictures and I wrote and illustrated my own stories when I was a kid.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry for a magazine called Next after I went to a flash dress up ball and wrote a funny poem about making the dress. The magazine liked it and I ended up writing and illustrating a poem once a month for 8 years for the magazine. That’s 96 poems! After that I thought it would be fun to write a novel, so I did and it got published. Then two more after that and two non-fiction books too.

Do you use family experiences in your books? And if so, could you give me some examples?

The first book, Verity’s Truth, used lots of experiences of family camping holidays, from the house-bus fairs we’d go and visit, to the adventure playground in the camping park. The second book, Janie Olive, drew lots of inspiration from my son’s experimentation with fireworks!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m always busy with something; wearable art, running workshops, doing school visits, drawing, painting and making things. My work is also what I choose to do in my spare time, I love it so much. I also make myself go for long walks because if you don’t exercise your body even just a little bit your mind gets flabby. I hate sports so walking is great for me- and you see so many interesting things to write about on the way.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It’s how many people are involved. It’s not just me- there’s a publishing manager, an editor, a book designer, sometimes a photographer, printers, the sales team, bookshops…when I think I’m working by myself, I’m actually working with a lot of people to create a book.

What does your family think of you being a writer, illustrator, poet, Wearable-Art designer, film costumer, television presenter and occasional columnist?

They are really proud of my work and they have learned to live with a LOT of mess! They also make me feel better when I’m feeling my hard work isn’t noticed for some reason. They believe in me and that’s about the best thing your family can do.

Do you tend to read your published books over again? And if so, which books do you do it most to?

Not really, but every so often I need to go through one to pull out examples of things to talk to a school about and I’m always surprised that I still like what I’ve written. And quite often I think ‘Hey, that’s actually pretty good!’ which it probably should be if it’s been published!

We are doing a wearable art show at the end of the year, do you have any tips for us?        

Don’t just try and make a pretty dress. Wearable Art isn’t a fashion show, it’s about you trying to tell the world a story, but instead of writing, you tell your story through a piece of art that is worn. It doesn’t have to be really complex, sometimes simple ideas and shapes look the best. But make it a really, really good story…and hold it together with sewing or cable ties, not a hot glue gun!


Thanks for a great interview Giselle and Fifi. Fifi has a longish poem in A Treasury Of NZ Poems for Children called ‘The Schoolbag.’ It is a funny poem that tells a story.

Young poets: I need your help to launch the Letterbox Cat

Letterbox Cat   Letterbox Cat     Letterbox Cat

Time to show you the cover of my new book, The Letterbox Cat and other poems. I am really excited. I love the look of it inside too. Scholastic are publishing it in August. Thank you Scholastic! Myles Lawford did the cool illustrations.

In August I will post a competition for all of NZ and have some copies of the book as prizes.

But right now I am on the hunt for some young Auckland poets to help my launch my book at Storylines Family Day in Auckland.


What you have to do: Write a poem about a cat. It might be funny. It might be a true story. It might make a picture of a cat grow with words. It DOES need to sound good read aloud.

Send to me by August 15th to paulajoygreen@gmail.com


My favourite poets will get to read their cat poems with me at the Family Day launch.

When:Sunday August 31st ( I don’t know exact time yet)

Where: Aotea Centre, Auckland


You need to include: Your name, age, year, name of school (home-schooled is okay too!)

You need to include the name and email of your parent or guardian

You can also include the name and email of your teacher

Your parent or guardian needs to give permission for you to read at my launch



Grasshopper’s Week by Tania Norfolk gave me a cool idea for poem … want to try?



A new picture book out from Craig Potton Publishing.

Grasshopper’s Week by Tania Norfolk with illustrations by Chris Norfolk.

This lovely story gave me a really cool idea for a poem challenge.


In Tania’s story, a wise, old Tree gives the days of the week new names to teach Grasshopper to notice the world more!


Monday is Wild-Wind-Day.

Tuesday is Bug-Day.

Wednesday is Wobble-Day.

and Sunday is Sun-Day!

The new name helps Grasshopper to see and hear the world about him .. it’s like a little lesson.

It is a delightful book! With gorgeous illustrations.


The challenge: Try thinking up new names for the days of the week and deciding what happens on these new-name days. What characters will you have?

Turn it into a story poem!


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for some poets.


Blackie the fisher-cat is no ordinary cat!


Blackie, the Fisher-cat  by Janet Pereira with illustrations by Gabriella Klepatski (Craig Potton Publishing, 2014)

This is a very beautiful picture book. Grandpop loves fishing and he tows his cute, yellow caravan to the beach. He is very surprised to find a black cat on the doorstep when he wakes up in the morning.

But this is no ordinary cat. This is an adventurous cat  that doesn’t mind getting its feet wet and definitely doesn’t mind going fishing! You can guess what the cat gets to eat for dinner. The cat and Grandpop become best of mates. I love the ending of the story (shh! I am not giving it away!)

This is a book to hunt out in your local bookshop or library. I love the illustrations — especially the cat!

Let me know what you think of the story.

Here is a challenge Write a story about a cat as a poem! This is one of my favourite topics.


DEADLINE for your Story-Poem Challenge: Wednesday June 4th

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 Story-Poem challenge.

I will post my favourites from all the Story-Poem Challenges and have a book prize for some poets (Year 0 to Year 8).

The Best-Behaved Bear might get you doing a bear poem

9781775431879   9781775431879

I love coloured pencils. I loved drawing with them when I was little and now I like looking at illustrations done with them.

There is a new book in the Best-Loved Bear series, written by Diana Noonan with Elizabeth Fuller’s gorgeous coloured pencils at work. Mmmm! Tasty! I love it when one colour goes on top of another.

The new book is called The Best-Behaved Bear. Tim was off to a tropical island for a wedding, but there was something he just HAD to fit in his bag. Yes, you guessed it, his teddy bear (but oh woe, he wouldn’t fit). Poor teddy has one disaster after another as Tim tries to fit him other bags. He gets to go but something IMPORTANT doesn’t. This is a delightful story that made me SMILE when I got to the end.

The Best-Behaved Bear, Diana Noonan, illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller, Scholastic, 2014


If you feel in the mood, try writing a teddy-bear poem. It might true or made-up.


DEADLINE for your Teddy-Poem Challenge: Thursday March 27th

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 eye-poem challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one poet. I will give one poet a copy of the book.  Thank you SCHOLASTIC for providing this!