Tag Archives: Paula Green

Making up new Groovy Fish poems at the Children’s Bookshop in Wellington

A very big thank you to Cuba Press, The Children’s Bookshop in Wellington and all the children, mums, dads and other adults who came.

You still get a chance to win a drawing if you send in a poem to my Groovy Fish challenge. All the names will go in the hat and I will pull out one or two. Plus I will give away a few Groovy Fish books.

And if you live in Auckland you can come to my Groovy Fish launch event at the Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop on Tuesday 16th July – 11 to 12. We will do exactly what I did in Wellington. See invite at the bottom of this post.



Happy because it is nearly time to start! Thanks for the divine coffee and orange juice Ruth xx


In 2014 children gave me the titles to kick start poems for my new Groovy Fish book

so I decided to give the titles back to children

when I launched the book in at Children’s Bookshop in Wellington on Wednesday.

What a gorgeous shop full to the brim with children’s books.



Helen and Austin

Ruth had set up an inviting space with cushions and an easel with paper – children turned up aged from maybe three to maybe eleven! Even adults came including the fabulous poet Belinda Wong. Poet Helen Rickerby brought her godson Austin – an extra keen young poetry writer! And the very lovely team from my publisher Cuba Press were there to join in: Mary, Sarah and Paul. (Mary did a stellar job writing down our group poems!


Reading from Groovy Fish, onlookers include Samantha, Oscar, Austin and Max (Max was writing a cool polar bear poem in his notebook!).




Samantha chooses a poem title.


I had cut up all the titles from my book and got children to pull one out of the fish bag – and then we made up poems together. Such fun! I am posting some below.

I had drawn groovy fish on paper so children could find a quiet spot and write their own poems and get to keep a drawing. I had also drawn little fish children put their names on – we pulled a few out and gave some of my original illustrations from the book away.




Oscar wrote a cool fish poem to take home inside the fish I drew.



Samantha got to take home the tap-dancing fish illustration.



And book signing time – which means more fish drawings! This for Anneke.


Here are some of our poems – all ideas were welcome – imaginations were springing to the moon and back! No words from me! Chocolate came up a lot!


The Highway Rat

Galloping on a cicada

the highway rat is off

to the shop to buy

chocolate to eat

with the fairies

in the tree house.



Lick Lick Riff

A very very very

very very very big

chocolate ice cream

melted to the ground

and an ant that had

been starving for weeks

on end licked

it all up!

Lick lick lick

lick lick lick

lick lick lick!


Tea with Aunty Lee

Aunty Lee is at the zoo

running skipping

farting observing

BUT!! an emu

is screaming, ‘LOOK OUT!

there’s an escaped

lion on the loose!’

The Tree House

Inside the tree house

a battered sofa

next to the leaves

like lollies

in the trees,

magical fairies eating


birds tweeting.


Swimming with an Alien



the green alien

with two heads

(well it’s lonely!)

has ten fingers on each hand

and is floating

like a squiggly worm.


Thank you everyone what a MAGNIFICENT occasion. I just loved it.





The Treasury Interviews: Annie interviews Paula Green

Annie Robinson

My name is Annie Robinson, I am 11 years old and I live in Tauranga with my mum, dad, older brother and younger sister, our 2 guinea pigs and our cat Purdy. My hobbies include playing guitar, singing, video games, loom bands and writing!


Paula with Nonu on a very windy day at Bethell’s.

Paula Green

Paula Green lives on Auckland’s West Coast with her partner, artist Michael Hight, their two daughters, three cats and two Springer Spaniels. She has published nine poetry collections including several for children. Her first children’s book, Flamingo Bendalingo: Poems from the Zoo, was published in 2006 and was listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book. Paula was awarded the University of Auckland Literary Fellowship in 2005. She was the 2008 judge of the New Zealand Post Secondary School Poetry Competition. NZ Listener writer Gerry Webb has written about Paula and has described her style of writing as ‘musical, sensuous, tender, quick-witted’. Paula writes for both adults and children and her most recent book of poems is The Letterbox Cat (Scholastic). She edited A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children that came out in October (Random House). Paula also hosts a blog site call Poetry Box (this blog!) which has lots of competitions, examples of great children’s poetry as well as tips and tricks on how to become a better writer.


The Interview:

What inspired you to start the poetry box blog?

I love working with children and writing for children so it seemed like a fun and challenging thing to do. I get to visit schools a lot in Auckland and sometimes in other main centres but I hardly ever get to visit schools off the beaten track. The internet can easily travel off the beaten track. I called it Poetry Box because it is full of surprises for me. I never know what I am going to pull out next. What else can Poetry Box do? How can it connect with NZ children?


Do you play any musical instruments?

I learnt to play the recorder, piano, the guitar, the clarinet and the saxophone. I was never very good at any of them, but I loved playing them all. I think I wanted to be Joni Mitchell at one stage with my long hair and acoustic guitar. I grew up in a house with lots of music (especially classical and jazz) so music is important to me. As soon as I was old enough, I loved going to concerts and music festivals. Last year I went to WOMAD which was very cool. I am really drawn to poems that sound good and when write a poem I often think it is like making a little piece of music. I love listening to music when I cook dinner, but when I am writing I mostly like the sound of the wind in the trees.


What is you’re most memorable experience?

That is a good question and a hard question because I have had lots of memorable experiences.

Being a mother … having two wonderful daughters that are such good company.

Walking the Abel Tasman Track and riding the Central Otago Rail Trail with my family.

Spending ten days in New York with my family.

Meeting Margaret Mahy and discovering my secret mentor was also a remarkable woman in how she paid attention to others and was so humble and generous.

Going skiing at The Remarkables.

Boogie boarding at Sandy Bay on the Tutukaka Coast.

Reading Dante’s poem The Divine Comedy in Italian (it is unbelievably long!).


What are some of your main inspirations for writing poetry?

The way the world catches me by surprise. Like when a cat instead of the teacher walks into the classroom. Or you turn a corner and there is the sun glinting on the ocean and you can hardly see.

Things people say.


The way real things fly the blue kite of imagination and the yellow balloon of feeling.


The way words are like little musical notes.


What is your favourite piece of writing? ( by yourself and by others)

‘Hotel Emergencies’ by Bill Manhire  You can hear him read it here. Astonishing. No other word for it.

Wonder by AJ Palacio   A novel that brings you back to everything that matters about being human.

Hill & Hole by Kyle Mewburn  A picture-book that is so simple and so beautifully written it is poetry.

Poems by Shel Silverstein, Margaret Mahy and Elena de Roo.

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi  Wise, tender, funny, poetic, beautifully written story

My writing?  Aunt Concertina and Her Niece Evalina is very special to me because it is a small part of the bedtime story I told my girls when they were little. I was too tired to write it down so I didn’t do that until they were older. Michael did the illustrations (very beautiful oil paintings that took him ages!). So it is a family book. And the book doesn’t fit a book formula. The language is as rich as the paintings. I don’t think anyone would publish it nowadays. So I am so grateful to Jenny Hellen and Random House for that. I am rather poroiud of my teo new poetry books too. I love what Scholastic did with The Letterbox Cat and what Random House did with A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. Thank you!!!!!!!!


What do you love most about writing?

It makes me feel good. As simple as that. I just love doing it. It is a way of making music. It is a way of doing anything. Taking risks. Being someone else. Being yourself. Exploring the world. Time travelling. Showing heart. Raising questions. Standing up for what you believe in. Questioning what you believe in. Listening to what others have written. Sharing.

A Hot Spot Poetry of New Zealand ….. all the details for you!

ATreasuryOfNZPoemsForChildrenJKT_FNL.indd   Letterbox Cat


Today I am setting off on a poetry tour to celebrate poetry for and by children, my two new books (The Letterbox Cat with Scholastic and A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children with Random House) and my blog NZ Poetry Box. I will be keeping a travel diary on my blog over the month.

Big thanks to Creative New Zealand, Random House and Scholastic. Without you this tour would not be possible. And to The New Zealand Book Council for hosting a Speed Date Event in Dunedin.

Where: Gisborne, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Tauranga, Papamoa and Auckland

Who: Elizabeth Smither, Apirana Taylor, Anna Jackson, Maria McMillan, Richard Langston, Adrienne Jansen, Belinda Wong, Fifi Colston, Melanie Drewery, Rachel Bush, Fiona Farrell, Gavin Bishop, Bill Nagelkirke, Greg O’Connell, James Norcliffe, Helen Jacobs, Doc Drumheller, David Eggleton, Sue Wootton, Jenny Powell, Elizabeth Pulford, Kyle Mewburn, Brian Turner, Wendy Clarke, Pauline Cartwright, Peter Bland, Elena de Roo, Tessa Duder, Stephanie Mayne, Claire Gummer, John Parker, Siobhan Harvey, Tamsin Flynn

Te Papa Wellington, Puke Ariki New Plymouth

Wainui Beach School, Ormond School, Matawai School, Egmont Village School, Woodleigh School, Frankley School, Ngaio School, Adventure School, Te Aro School, Brooklyn School, Karori West School, St Brigid’s School, Lyall Bay School, Pakakariki School, Kapanui School, Newbury School, Khandallah School, Pauatahanui School, St Joseph’s School Nelson, Russley School, Fendalton School, Cobham Intermediate, Kirkwood Intermediate, Ilam School, Lyttelton School, Paparoa School, Medbury School, Freeville School, Redcliffs School, Selwyn House School, East-Taieri School, Columbia College, Remarkables School, Arrowtown School, Queenstown School, Golden Sands School, Maungatapere School, Kamai School, Gladstone School, Richmond Road School, Ellerslie School, Freemans Bay School, St Kentigern’s School, Cornall Park District School, Upper Harbour Primary School, Royal Oak Primary School, Westmere School

Taranaki Libraries, Eltham Library, Wellington Libraries, Porirua Library, Nelson Libraries, South Library, Dunedin Libraries, Queenstown Library, Tauranga City Library, Auckland Libraries, National Library

Muir’s Bookshop Gisborne, Poppies New Plymouth, New Plymouth Paper Plus, Children’s Bookshop Wellington, Page & Blackmoore Nelson, Canterbury University Bookshop, University Bookshop Dunedin, Paper Plus Queenstown Airport, Children’s Bookshop Auckland

Events open to the public involving local authors and children:

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The Treasury Interviews: Gemma interviews Patricia Grace

Gemma 1

Gemma Lovewell lives in Wellington with her parents and younger brother, in a house filled with books. She goes to Adventure School, and loves to try everything life has to offer. Gemma wrote her first poem when she was 3 years old, and has since then has had articles, stories and poems published in magazines, newspapers and on websites. She published The Big Box when she was five with the help of Joy Cowley.

Gemma has written the bios and the questions. Patricia has a beautiful lullaby in A Treasury of New Zealand Poetry for Children.


Patricia Grace is a famous New Zealand writer, who is well known overseas as well as locally. Her first book was called Waiariki. It was published in 1975 and it was the first collection of short stories by a Māori woman writer. She got started in writing by entering her work in competitions. Since then she has won many awards and been recognised in the New Zealand order of merit.


The Interview

What is your favourite thing to do?

I really enjoy reading and writing and I love family picnics and barbecues.


Do you have a favourite poem, and what do you like about it?

My favourite poem is ‘Rain’ by Hone Tuwhare. It brings with it the sounds, smells and feelings of rain. [Note from Paula: This poem is in the Treasury!]


What kind of writing do you find the most enjoyable?

Fiction. I like reading novels best of all.


Of the many awards you have won, which award is the most important to you?

They are all important to me. I really appreciate the recognition of my work that each award brings.


Have you had any poems published before?

I had a poem published many years ago, but I don’t usually write poetry.


If you were not a writer, what would you be?

I used to be a teacher, and liked that very much. If I wasn’t a full time writer, and if I was younger, I would like to be a teacher again.


Do you think poetry is important for kids, and why or why not?

Yes, poetry is important for kids – reading it and writing it. Poetry makes you think and feel. It allows you to express your feelings about a wide range of topics and helps you to think about language and use words well.


Thanks for the great interview Gemma and Patricia!


A third way to celebrate A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children with me (you will need a camera and a poetry book!)


A week today A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children will be in bookshops.

I have set you three challenges to celebrate this (plus one coming on Publication Day).

Challenge number one: Write a poem that is inspired by another poem. See here for details. I will post favourites and have copies of the Treasury for a few (or  another book if you have it already!).

Challenge number two: Write a poem and then write that poem with surprising things in surprising places (sand, mud, window). Take a photo and send it to me. I will post them as I get them and will  have two $50 book vouchers for my favourites. See here for details.

Challenge number three: Take a photo of yourself reading a poetry book in a great place to read a poetry book. Your parent will need to send me permission so I can post it. I will post while I am on tour and will have two $50 book vouchers for my favourites after November 8th.

Deadline: You have until November 8th to do this but if I can (while I am on tour) I will post them as I get them. I may not be able to because I don’t have a laptop. Preferably a .jpeg

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 Fascinating Place to Read a Poetry book challenge.

A sneak preview of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children

I have just got my advance copy of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children and I am so delighted with how it looks. The illustrations by Jenny Cooper are so very very good and Megan‘s design brings everything to life. I can’t wait to share the book with you in October and November. The book will be in shops in October. It even has three gorgeous ribbons and a dust jacket.

photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

Making animal pictures out of words — a little challenge

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

© Paula Green The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems  Scholastic 2014

I have lots of picture poems in The Letterbox Cat. When I was showing them to some children on Saturday I got an idea for a challenge. Make an animal poem that is also an animal picture!

1. Pick an animal.

2. Collect lots of words that describe that animal.

3. Play with the words and make patterns.

4. Use your patterns to make animal pictures.

5. Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. (jpegs are easier for me but if it is one page I might be able to take a screen shot of it)


DEADLINE: Monday September 22nd






My Christchurch travel diary

Yesterday I left home when it was dark which gave me an idea for a poem. Flying down I saw skinny strips of clouds like skinny strips of cloudy floss.

I drove straight to Rangiora High School from the airport. On the way I discovered Green’s Road. I made up poems with a Year 10 and a Year 9 class that I posted on my other blog, NZ Poetry Shelf. I really loved listening.

And then another idea for a poem arrived because my hotel has a cat. It came and miaowed at my door as though it knew I have a book called The Letterbox Cat. The cat needs a poem but now it has a photo.

Yeah NZ Book Council. Thanks for bringing me south!

Talk soon, Paula





I am reading from The Letterbox Cat at Time Out Bookstore on Saturday at 2.30pm

Today I am off to Christchurch to visit schools, including the winning Russley School, thanks to The New Zealand Book Council.

When I get home it will be time for my reading at Time Out Bookstore. Time for a poem chat.

I am really excited to have a chance to talk with you, answer questions and read some poems.

Bring your favourite questions. I will bring some nibbles. Yeah!


Let the bookshop know if you are coming! A little poem party.




My Storylines Family Day and Book Launch album

Yesterday was a rainy rainy day in Auckland but that didn’t stop masses of children and parents coming to the Aotea Centre to meet loads of children’s authors and do loads of activities. I got to launch my new book, The Letterbox Cat and Other Poems, and to spend time in the wonderful poetry zone.

I had a wonderful minder called Patricia who went and got me pumpkin soup to keep my energy up.

Penny from Scholastic launched my book with the best speech ever. She talked about what poetry does and why they picked the book. Just like me, she loves American poet, Shel Silverstein‘s Where the Sidewalk Ends.

I had picked him in my Top 5 Poetry Books for children for The New Zealand Book Council’s latest Booknotes Unbound.

My launch was special to me as children helped me out.

Emily from Balmoral School read a cat poem, along with Venetia, Lucy, Helen and Ollie from Gladstone School, and Skye, Sultan, Sarah, Lyrix and Toa from Glen Eden Primary School. The cat poems were stunning and the children all read with poise and confidence.

Cornwall Park School had students perform three of my poems and i was so moved at the way they brought the poems to life: ‘At Sea,’ ‘Faces,’ and ‘A Snail Poem.’ They made me smile and laugh out loud! And we all loved the reciting snail sliding across the stage. Oh the funny faces and the wavy sea. Thanks to Colleen and Jane for taking time out of your busy school schedules.

St Kentigern’s School for Girls also astonished me with their performances of ‘The Gargle Bird’ and ‘Rain.’ They made poems make music in the air. I loved the way they used their hands as much as their voices. Wow! Thanks to Judy for her dedication to words and books and creating such terrific recitals.

Myles Lawford, the illustrator, turned up to help me sign books and did cool pictures for everyone. Paper P;lus and Glenfield has some left over signed copies by him!

The Poetry Zone was full of cool activities. There was a poetry picnic, poetry mystery boxes and poetry feel boxes. Children who wrote poems got to read them at the mic! That was pretty amazing. I have posted my favourite poems from the mystery box below.

I was delighted to meet so many poetry fans. It was a splendid day so a big and especial thanks to the wonderful Storylines team. Thank you!

Here is my Family Day Photo Album (some photos are a bit fuzyy but you get the occasion!)

photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo  photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo


And here is my favourite poem from the mystery box:

Storylines Poem by Evan (age 11)

A poem ‘about green’

LEAVES falling, spinning down to the
GRASS, covered in fresh morning dew.  A young boy wears green
SHORTS and a loose stripy green
T-SHIRT too.  The sounds of the mountain
KEA squawking very proudly.  Nearby in a green
ALLIGATOR chomps loudly and as the young boy retires to bed
He has sweet dreams about the colour….RED