Tag Archives: oneTree House

Poetry Box review: Julie Ellis’s Takahē Maths

Poetry Box November challenge – using poetry forms

Takahē Maths, Julie Ellis, illus. Isobel Te Aho-White, OneTree House, 2021

Takahē Maths is a very cool book. It tells the story of the takahē through numbers and equations. Before the Pākehā arrived there were over ten thousand takahē, but as birds were hunted, land was cleared, and pests such as rats and stoats arrived, the numbers dwindled. And then, between 1800 and 1900, only four takahē were spotted. The big beautiful blue bird, with its distinctive red beak, was no more. Extinct. Then one surprising day, Dr Orbell was walking in an isolated valley and he spotted unusual bird prints. Bird experts recognised the footprints and were dumbstruck.

Yet here is where the story gets sad. Dr Obell and others found 250 takehē. A cause for celebration but the birds were not protected well enough and the numbers dwindled again.

The answers to the takahē equations on each page go up and down, up and down, because people struggled to protect the takahē. I feel such sadness as I read this but I love how a sequence of maths equations nails the need to protect our endangered species.

In 2021 the takahē are still vulnerable – there are 450 and counting. Young birds are hatched in Aotearoa’s longest running endangered species programme, and readied for release into the mountains and to safe islands that are predator free.

To structure the narrative of an endangered bird around a series of maths equations is genius. You get to add and subtract as you read, and to grasp how important conservation is in Aotearoa.

Excellent illustrations that give the birds and scenes life. Takahē Maths is a brilliant book.

You can hear the takahē birdsong here courtesy of Department of Conversation

OneTree House page

About the Author: Julie Ellis is a very experienced writer in the field of education Julie has a number of works published by Learning Media, New Holland, Reed Education and others. 

About the Illustrator: Izzy Joy is a young but experienced illustrator. “My personal artwork is definitely about connecting people with each other and with nature … uplifting people, especially young women, and raising understanding and compassion toward people that are struggling in life” Izzy remarks. Izzy’s works include The Story of Rangi and Papa (Zine) and Io Wahine (Zine).

Department of Conversation info:

Poetry Box review: Des Hunt’s Inside Bubble Earth – Climate Change

Poetry Box November challenge – using poetry forms

Inside Bubble Earth: Climate Change, Des Hunt, OneTree House, 2021

I am a big fan of Des Hunt – he is an inspiration as an author but also on the school-visit circuits. Des’s new book, Inside Bubble Earth: Climate Change, underlines why he is so good. He has taken an issue that is tough, significant, and must be addressed. It is an issue that might keep children awake at night, like a monster in the dark, but Des wants children to understand something that is large and scary. He tells a story at the start about Alex and a monster in a forest, saying the monster is like global climate change. Read it here at The Sapling.

“The purpose of this book is to shine a light on climate change so we clearly see what it is and how it might be tamed.”

We have been living in and out of Covid-19 bubbles for months and months, and it has saved lives in Aotearoa. But we also live in bubble Earth together, and as Des says, ‘there is only one bubble and that is the whole planet’. In clear sentences, with an extensive glossary of terms we might not be familiar with at the back, this book is child friendly. Accessible, informative, essential.

Des starts with the tuatara to show what this long-lived creature and its ancestors have experienced across time. He uses the word HOPE because if we make the right choices we still have an opportunity to slow down the impact of climate change on planet Earth. On everything and everybody who inhabits it (including the tuatara and its future generations).

Chapters include ‘The Science of Climate Change’, ‘Causes and Cures’, Consequences’ and ‘In the End’. Step by careful step, Des takes us through what has damaged the earth by examining the science, and then suggests what we can do to help, as individuals, businesses and as nations. His four Rs at the end (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink) offer excellent tips on what we can personally do.

Reduce Energy use

Reduce Waste

Reduce Consumption




Inside Bubble Earth is a book that deserves to be in every school library and on every home bookshelf. I have learnt so much in reading it, and while climate change is a still a tough issue, this book give me hope. I have added things to my list of things I can get better at for the sake of the planet. What a welcome arrival. What an inspirational author.

OneTree House page

Seven Des Hunt books have been finalists at the Children’s Book Awards. Cry of the Taniwha was awarded the 2016 Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book. Then, in 2017, Des was the recipient of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for lifetime achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy. He was a science and technology teacher for many years.

Poetry Box review: Elizabeth Pulford’s Honk

Poetry Box November challenge – using poetry forms

Honk, Elizabeth Pulford, illustrations Astrid Matijasevich, OneTree House, 2021

Elizabeth Pulford’s Honk is a delightful picture book which makes you feel warm inside as you read. On a wild and stormy night, Henry hears a sad little honking noise outside. The next morning he discovers an injured goose curled up in the sandpit. Slowly slowly, the injured goose and the caring Henry become friends. I am all for comfort books at the moment and this is a terrific comfort book, however old you are. I would have loved to have read this to my children when they were young. I love the honk! refrain that runs through the story until the very last page, and I especially love the ending. This is a book of friendship, kindness and of letting go.

Astrid Matijasevich’s illustrations are the perfect combination of bold and bright. With the skimpiest of lines, Astrid brings the characters to joyful life.

The book is a treasure – I hope it finds a solar system of readers.

Elizabeth Pulford has published stories, poems, and articles for both adults and children, along with over sixty books for children and young adults.  Four of her children’s books, The Memory Tree, Call of the Cruins), Tussock, and Finding Monkey Moon were finalists in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. 

Astrid Matijasevich is a versatile graphic designer, trained at Auckland University of Technology, specializing in visual material for children.

OneTree House page

Poetry Box review and some popUPpoem challenges: David Hill’s Three Scoops

Three Scoops, David Hill, One Tree House, 2021

David Hill is a writing whizz and has penned some of my all-time favourite Aotearoa fiction for children. His new book Three Scoops is genius. He has written three long SHORT stories. One is historical, one is fantasy and one is science fiction. I gobbled them all up at the weekend.

One Tree House page

A history story (‘Coming Home’): Harry and his horse Blaze are inseparable. He and Blaze are heading to South Africa in 1890 by ship to fight in the Boer war. Harry thinks it is a great adventure and has no idea about the harsh realities of war. Blaze has no idea what is going on and runs away before boarding the ship. The two stories interweave. Lost and confused, Blaze is trying to find his way home. Harry is discovering war has much graver consequences than those of an adventure. He misses and is worried about Blaze. He misses home. Men and horses go hungry, get wounded, die. On both sides. So many complicated questions simmer as I read.

A fantasy story (‘I wish’): Trent and his mum move to a new town which means a new school and new friends. Only problem is Trent finds life boring and thinks he is boring. Until he finds a mysterious box of books in the lounge. Open one of the books changes everything. What I love about this story, is the way it is real life gritty while also letting a bit magic in. Stories can have so many layers whatever the genre. Read this one and you will find David’s characteristic wit, humour and wisdom as well as the bounding imagination. What sells it for me, is the way the story digs into things that shape and challenge us. How sometimes you feel awkward and not good enough. How sometimes you have to choose between helping yourself out and helping someone else out.

A science fiction story (‘Strange Meeting’): David reminds us of how the world was 70 million years ago, and what happened when an asteroid hit Earth and wiped the dinosaurs out. Cut to a time in the future. Sophie’s parents work at the Mahoe Launch Site where a rocket/satellite is about to take off. Sophie is about to give a talk to her classmates when Pita interrupts because he is worried something bad is about to happen. His wise Koro communicates with a power and understands the preciousness of the land. The story navigates science, and what-ifs, and how our relationships with other people and with the land (Earth!) are so very important. Is the space work good for Earth or will it place it in danger? The story is tense, yet is layered beyond a fast moving plot. Again questions simmer as you read.

Three deliciously complex stories that are compulsive reading because you can’t wait to find out what happens – but also deliver vital questions for you to ponder over. AND that get you thinking about what it means to be a human being on planet Earth. Wonderful!

David Hill lives in Taranaki, and has been writing fiction and nonfiction full time for 40 years. His novels and stories have won numerous awards, and have been published in around 15 countries and nearly as many languages.

The popUPpoem challenges

A history poem: Find a person in the past and use them as a starting point for your poem. You could use someone you know (an older relation) or someone you don’t know from the past. Before you start your poem write down a few questions you would ask them if you could, or will ask them if you can. See if you can find out some fascinating things about them.

A fantasy poem: Take a box of books as your starting point and let your imagination go flying. Is there a question your poem explores? Without saying the question out loud. Over to you: this is also a chance simply to enjoy a dose of fantasy (imagination) as you write.

A science fiction: Set your poem in the future where the world is a little bit different than it is now. What is good and bad about how it is different?

Deadline: Friday October 1st

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

INCLUDE: your name, age, year and name of school

Don’t forget to put Three Scoop poem in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will read all the poems the day after the deadline and will post some poems on OCT 5th. I will have a copy of Three Scoops to give away and maybe another book or two.

Poetry Box review: ‘Rush! Rush!’ by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Rush! Rush! by Elena de Roo, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, One Tree House, 2021

Over the fence,

and down with a whoosh!

Onto the track!

Into the bush.

Elena de Roo is my favourite New Zealand poet for children and I have long hoped for a collection from her. Her new book Rush! Rush! is definitely a start. The book-length poem is an absolute JOY to read. A young girl is racing to get from home to the beach. Maestro illustrator Jenny Cooper has painted the girl in her pyjamas and dressing gown, because she has pulled the curtains back, peeked at the beautiful day, and then whizzed through the door. Rush! Rush! Rush! The illustrations are sublime. So full of exuberant life. Read the book and savour the images as you race along with the poem and the girl. You will get breathless too!

Every word is pitch perfect. One of the reasons (and there are many) I admire Elena as a poet is because she has a deft musical ear. She listens to how the line sounds. She avoids the clunky predictable rhythms and rhymes of so many picture books. She catches the rhythm of a child rushing, breathing in sights and sounds, and who is too excited to stop. The rhymes are a treat, especially the near rhymes that add knottiness to the musical flow (blind / time; sheep / bleat). She dances between soft and sharp sounds. Ah! she is a poet musician extraordinaire!

It felt like I read the story poem in one delicious breath – and I really liked the ending. A perfect ending (a single word!) to open the story wide like the girl’s arms stretched wide on the cover.

This book is a JOYFUL INVIGORATING POETRY treat and would be the very best book to read aloud to a class or your children. I was reminded of Margaret Mahy’s fabulous A Summery Saturday Morning. I love Rush! Rush! And it has given me an idea for my April Poetry Challenge.

Swoop round the shed,

In a ground-hugging loop.

What’s all the fuss about?

Rattles the roof.

Elena de Roo completed this book when she was the 2020 University of Otago College of Education / Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence. She has written a number of award-winning books and lives in Auckland.

Jenny Cooper is an award-winning illustrator and has illustrated more than 70 books. She lives in Amberley, Christchurch.

One Tree House page

Elena de Roo website

Poetry Box summer reading: Stacey Morrison’s My First Words in Māori and Christine Dale and Ngaere Roberts’s Raumati: My summer words / Ngā Kupu Māori mō te Raumati


My First Words in Māori, Stacey Morrison, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly

Puffin, 2019, Puffin page


Stacey Morrison is a broadcaster and Māori language champion extraordinaire. With illustrations by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, Stacey has gathered words and ideas children first use when they begin to talk. The illustrations are gorgeous.

I love this book. Ka nui taku harikoa!

The pages feature: kanohi / face – tinana / the body – kākahu / clothes – whānau / family – kare ā-roto / emotions – mōkai  / pets – kai, inu  / food, drink –  whare / house – rūma moe / bedroom – kei waho i te whare / outside the house – wāhi tākaro / places to play  – tātahi / the beach – marae


This is what the illustrators say:

Kia ora all New Zealanders, we dedicate our mahi on this book to you – no matter how young or hold you are, no matter where you were born, if you are a New Zealander, te reo Māori is your language too!


Every time I hear te reo Māori spoken on the radio, on television, in the streets, in shops, in schools, I am happy. Every time I hear people pronouncing Māori words correctly I am happy (we might not always get it right but we can try). Every time I see an Aotearoa children’s book translated in Māori or first published in Māori I am happy.

Some people say we are what we eat but I also say we are what we speak.

Stacey’s book is the perfect book to snuggle into this summer with whānau; to read and let te reo Māori grow inside you. The more we speak and listen to our first language, the more this treasure will grow and glow.



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Raumati: My summer words / Ngā Kupu Māori mō te Raumati,

Catherine Dale and Ngaere Roberts, OneTree House, 2019

OneTree House page


Christine Dale and Ngaere Roberts have translated the experience of summer into a visual and word feast. The book matches stunning photographs with texts in both English and te reo Māori. Each language sings in its own right.


See the sky,

wide and windy.

Titiro ki te rangi whānui,

rangi hauhau.


I love this book.

All our senses are activated. We will hear the surf whakarongo ki te auheke ngunguru, eat crisp watermelon rongo i te reka o te merengi mātao, feel the sand whāwhā i te kirikiri māngūngungu, smell the cut grass rongo i te kakara o te pātītī mata.

This is another book to snuggle into with your whānau this summer  / matiti.

Say the words out loud. Listen to how delicious they sound. The writers have used their ears like poets do because every page is music. Both languages!

And summer sparkles and glitters and tumbles and squeals on the page as you read.



I highly recommend both these books for your summer picnic kete or your trip to the tātahi or for reading under the pōhutukawa in the shade. These books were made with aroha. Ka pai!









Poetry Box summer reading: Catherine Chidgey’s Jiffy, Cat Detective

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Jiffy, Cat Detective, Catherine Chidgey, illustrations by Astrid Matijasevich

OneTree House, 2019



He lay down in a patch of sun –

he’d help them find the truth.

Not one of them suspected

he was Jiff the Purring Sleuth!



Catherine is a much loved New Zealand novelist who teaches Creative Writing at Waikato University  – this is her first book for children and it is a little beauty. It is based on her own cat (she has lots of white cats) and is dedicated to her daughter Alice. For ages 3 to 7.

Mr Bee has only one shoe on his foot because the right shoe is MISSING!

Wise Mrs Bee gets him to picture where he last saw it (I always ask someone else to look and that usually does the trick). Except the last place he saw it was on his right foot!

Time to ask Alice. Alice looks but NO LUCK!

Ah one snoozing smart cat to the rescue. He’s JIFF the PURRING Sleuth!

Oh and Jiffy has one gold and one blue eye. He thinks he’s rather cool and rather clever. Pretty special cat I reckon, itching for more cat adventures.

WHERE WOULD YOU HUNT FOR A MISSING SHOE?????? Every time I ask questions like this I feel like writing a poem! I couldn’t help myself:


in a basket

under the mat

in a bath (filled with lemon bubbles)

in my rail-trail cap


But no – The shoe is in none of these places I’d thought of!

Catherine has written the story like a poet with dazzling rhyme and rhythm carrying us along to the end. I did not expect the ending which SURPRISED me! I do like a story with a FLICK in its tail!

Astrid’s illustrations are bright on the page and it’s a hard-cover book which is an added bonus.

I gobbled up this book in a flash and have my fingers crossed I will get to read more Jiffy stories. My favourite thing about this book? Jiffy!


OneTree House author page