Tag Archives: NZ children’s book review

Barbara Else’s The Knot Impossible: Another tale of of Fontania – it feels real, and because it feels real, you feel the place as you read

knot-impossible    knot-impossible

Barbara Else The Knot Impossible: Another Tale of Fontania  Gecko Press 2015



There is nothing like diving into a good book and loving it so much, you keep turning the pages because you want to stay in that imagined world for as long as you can. That’s how I felt reading Barbara Else’s The Knot ImpossibleFontania comes to shimmering life as a place because the detail is magnificent. The characters are complicatedly lovable and lovingly complicated. This means they matter. You care about what happens to them.

This is the fourth and final book in the Fontania series -i lave loved them all!

Rufkin is the brave boy who is at the centre of adventure. He can spot when things aren’t writing and he can come up with audacious plans to save his world. He also knows that the life of one small boy (Vosco) matters very much indeed.

You will need to read the book to find out what happens (and what those plans are), but I can tell you there is danger at sea, ferocious cave lizards, people who aren’t as good as they seem and people who are better than they seem.

I love the names of the characters: Mister and Mistress Mucclack, Calleena, Lord Hodie, Rufkin himself, Nissie, Vosco.

The pace of the book is so perfectly managed you just have to keep reading (which may be a problem if it is your turn to dry the dishes!).

I also love the way fantasy and real things come together so beautifully — it feels real, and because it feels real, you feel the place as you read.

I highly recommend this book. I feel a little sad the series is at an end but I can’t wait to see what Barbara writes next. Thank you for such a wonderful fantasy world, Barbara. May you get many more readers for it.


Gecko Press page






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


20140904_lovewells_09 RVP3oxV4maG-BcN-jUTXESYbMI9UJVhydZia_XJsxEw,em6GU3hvFXHhL3fEVBra4jQEW0pg8tzIu2wC1AeQk2o 20140904_lovewells_21

Here is the fabulous Bee Trudgeon!


… and Sally Warburton



t h a n k y o u      G e m m a !



Daniel (6) gives Juliet MacIver’s Toucan Can the thumbs up!


Here is my new review of Toucan Can. I won this book last year and I met Juliette MacIver and she signed my book and a Toucan Can poster that I have in my room.

Daniel, Year 2, Aged 6, Adventure School


Title: Toucan Can

Author: Juliette MacIver


Who is in it:

Toucan, and YOU!


What happens:

Toucan can do lots of things and other people can do other things. Everyone tries doing things and it is so funny.


What I thought of it:

I LOVE this book. I love the pictures and the silly ideas. Toucan is a cool character. My favourite part is all the rhyming. It is fun to read and it is funny to listen to.



Everyone and anyone.



2042 billion (5 out of 5) stars

Poetry Box NZ Book review by a child: Gryffin on Stranded


Stranded by Jan Thorburn, published by Mallinson Rendel

Stranded is a survival story with the same scenario like most survival stories but uses unique characters and scenes, making a lovely story that grabs you and never wants to let you go!


About The Author:

Jan Thorburn has a passion for writing books and writes many books for kids aged between 10-12 including books about New Zealand and adventure. Jan had a job of a teacher teaching late primary/intermediate kids.


About The Publisher:

The publisher of Stranded (and all of Jan Thorburn’s books) are published by Mallinson Rendel an independent publisher from Wellington. The publisher has won many New Zealand book publisher prizes for his work.


About Me:

My name is Gryffin, I’m 10 years old. I was born in Australia and moved to Palmerston North when I was 4. My hobbies include writing, traveling and annoying my big brother! I have currently had two poems published on poetry box.


Note from Paula: This fabulous adventure story has two characters that are really different from each other but both have to solve a big problem  … the problem of getting stranded. I like the way the characters are so different.

Teddy One-Eye: Gavin Bishop’s autobiography of a teddy bear is such a treat

9781775537274    9781775537274    9781775537274    9781775537274

Teddy One-Eye: The autobiography of a teddy bear by Gavin Bishop, Random House, 2014

Gavin Bishop is one of our most beloved authors and illustrators and he has a new book out. It feels like a brother or sister to his fabulous memoir Piano Rock. I met a number of teachers on my tour who have used Piano Rock a lot with their classes. I can see why.

Like Piano Rock, the new book is gorgeously produced by Random House (it is hard cover) and has equally beautiful illustrations. Illustrations that belong in the time of the teddy (the 1950s)!

The book is an autobiography of a teddy, but it is also an autobiography of a boy (partly Gavin) as well as being a time machine as you get to go back to another time. I loved that! Boy gets to read Janet and John books (just like I got to read Janet and John when I was little). He gets to go the diary with his pocket money when he was 6. He loves doing spelling (just like I did!). He gets to eat homemade (not shop bought!!!!) Louise cake, beetroot chutney (well it got made in the kitchen even if he didn’t eat it himself), and roast mutton.

You even get bits of history in this back-in-time travel. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing reach Mt Everest’s peak and Yvette William’s is New Zealand’s first woman to get an Olympic medal. There is even teddy-bear history to be discovered too! 2002 was marked as the 100th anniversary of the first teddy bear made.

Teddy One-eye is special because there is a special story story about him (this may or may not be true!). I love the way the Grandmother reminds everyone that Teddy One-eye is special and he needs to be looked after well. The teddy certainly knows what is going on in the world around him and he gets to be very good at reading. Boy loves him, then little baby brother loves him —  but he gets to spend days or years or months in all kinds of surprising places (the pot cupboard, a plastic bag).

Reading this book means you get to do all kinds of wonderful things: fall in love with a raggety (at times) teddy bear, go on adventures and go back in time. I loved the way this book made me think about my own toys and my own childhood and what I loved to do and what was important. It has scary bits, funny bits and even slightly sad bits.

Bravo Gavin Bishop! This book is a treasure trove. I loved it very much indeed.

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.


Melinda Szymanik’s The Song of the Kauri is simple, poetic and important

9781775432289  9781775432289    9781775432289

Melinda Szymanik, The Song of the Kauri, illustrated by Dominique Ford, Scholastic, 2014

This book has a beautiful cover in orange and browns with a shiny embossed koru that you can trace with your finger and feel its smoothness.

This is how the story begins: ‘Once upon a time, when the land was new, and time and memory were just beginning, a giant began to grow out of the rich earth.’

This a beautiful sentence– simple but full of possibilities.

The sentence leads you into the story of a kauri. The sun knew what it was good at. The moon knew what it was good at. And the kauri just kept growing and growing as the world kept changing and changing.

The story is simple, poetic and important. It makes you think about the place of things in the world by showing us what they do. It never preaches or shouts messages. It just tells a story using sentences that have been lovingly cared for.

And it has gorgeous illustrations — these too have been lovingly cared for. This is a book you should hunt down when it comes out in early July. It has been crafted with love by the author, the illustrator and the publishing team at Scholastic. I just adore it! I am sure it will become one of New Zealand’s best loved books!

You could try writing a story poem about a tree. Find the book first and read it and then have a go at a poem. Make you tree come alive on the page with great detail. Where is your tree? What happens to your tree? You might to do a bit of research. You might need to use your imagination.


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 Moose and the Goose woohooo (and yes there is a train!)

-1  -1  -1  -1


I thought I would share this delightful new picture book with you. It has gorgeous illustrations by Jenny Cooper (oh I love that bear!) and sparkling words by Juliette MacIver.

This is the HILARIOUS story of a moose, a caboose, a goose, a bear and a train.

The story is glued together with sweet rhyme: goose, caboose, Ruth, juice, introduce, roof, hoof, toot, route, strewth, booth, produce, vamoose, uncouth, goof, excuse, youth, loose, footloose, mousse

If you read those words you might get a W H I F F  of the story.

This is a picture book, yes! But in my ear it makes poetry … so I do recommend you check it out.

If you like you could try writing a poem called The Moose and the Goose.


DEADLINE for your ‘A Goose and a Moose’ Poem Challenge: Wednesday April 16th

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 ‘A Goose and a Moose’ Poem Challenge.

I will post my favourites and have a book prize for one poet.