Tag Archives: Penguin Random House

Poetry Box review: Gavin Bishop’s Atua Māori Gods and Heroes

Poetry Box November challenge – using poetry forms

Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes, Gavin Bishop, Penguin, 2021

Gavin Bishop’s Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes is one of those special books I imagine the author has germinated and carried for a long time, working with a publisher who has invested time and love to produce a book worthy of the original idea. The book is a treasure house, a gift, a kete stocked with an abundance of knowledge and wisdom in both the narrative and the artwork.

I am so moved by this book. It is like I’m holding a set of lungs breathing as I read, a warm heart beating, because the book is invested with significant life. Gavin begins in Te Pō, the dark nothing, and moves through to Te Ao, the light, the world. He leads us to Ranginui e tū nei, the great sky father, and Papatūānuku, mother earth. He guides us to some of their offspring, the seven gods given the most important jobs. He draws us through skies, oceans and the land, while the stars, the sun and moon, plants, trees, animals, birds and humans come into being. There is conflict, jealousy, respect, growth, wisdom. There is maternal and paternal love.

Each page is a resting stop. Read the narrative. Sink into the artwork. Linger over the little pockets of information, harvest new knowledge. Check out kauri or kawakawa, te waha o Tanē the dawn chorus, fish that ‘swim in sea water lit by the sun’ and fish that favour the deep. I learnt there are 28 native bee species that live in tunnels, not hives, and that don’t produce honey. You will meet the sacred and you will encounter the everyday.

The ink in Gavin’s pen is fluid. He looks forward to the past and acknowledges the present. I am always curious about the way illustrations are made, both the process and the media. I asked Gavin to describe it for me, and was delighted he used the word ‘old-fashioned’. There is something very satisfying abut stretching watercolour paper, squeezing paint from a tube, and sharpening the point of the brush when needed. The artwork is incandescent. Lovingly produced. I am drawn to the textured skin of the figures, the moods on the faces, the ability of paint to animate. This is art and it is stellar. From Gavin:

My approach to illustration is totally old-fashioned. I draw everything on pieces of paper and colour them in. All my pictures go through a lot of stages. The first sketches are very rough and done quickly. It is a matter of getting a fleeting idea down on the paper before it flits away. Just as I am going to sleep is a particularly ripe time for inventing very rough and done quickly. It is a matter of getting a fleeting idea down on the paper before it flits away. Just as I am going to sleep is a particularly ripe time for inventing images. They present themselves and won’t give me rest until I have scribbled them into the notebook I keep by the bed.  Next day, in my studio I redraw them more slowly, firming them up and imaging how they might fit on the page. Tracing paper is one of my main tools at this stage of things as it is again later when I transfer my drawings from sketching paper to watercolour paper to take the final art.  I still stretch the watercolour paper by wetting it and allowing it to dry. That way it doesn’t matter what techniques you use later, the paper will always dry flat which is important when it comes scanning. Colour is provided mainly by the use of coloured inks, liquid watercolour, acrylic and poster paint.

I find myself returning to the book over and over; as the tūī cawkles at me from the mānuka, as the pīwakawaka flits and zags, as I tend the garden, and gaze at a midnight moon. I picture this book in the arms of a parent as they read to youngsters, as teachers hold it up to a class. It is a book of Māori gods but it is also a handbook for life. How to be kind to earth, how to be kind to ourselves, and to those near us. I am reminded how stories have resonant, necessary and enduring power, and can be sung, whispered or rendered in paint. How we pass stories along, and as Gavin suggests, adding this and that. I hold this book out to you, hoping you will hold it out to someone else, young or old. It has earned a place upon our shelves of book taonga.

Penguin page and author bio

Poetry Box review: James Norcliffe’s Mallory, Mallory – The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy

James Norcliffe, Mallory, Mallory: The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy illus Emily Walker, Penguin Random House (Puffin) 2020

I love opening a book without reading the blurb or reviews. I read the title and that is my entry in. I like being surprised and taken on a book adventure. After James Norcliffe’s excellent The Loblolly Boy (2009) I knew I was in for a treat, and yes, a surprising book adventure.

James’s new novel for junior readers is an utter delight. I gobbled it up on a rainy Sunday morning in bed, but it would work just as well under a shady tree on a shimmery hot summer day or in a refuge on a mountain in the falling snow . With a nod to Dr Seuss, you could read this book anywhere: in a tree hut, in the sand dunes, in a huge comfy armchair, in a hot-air balloon, on a train, a plane or at the kitchen table.

Emily Walker’s quirky illustrations are misty and magical – and a perfect match.

Mallory is the meanest, cruellest, most unpopular girl in the universe. She hatches the meanest plan: she decides she will kidnap the tooth fairy when she puts her wobbly tooth under her pillow and demand a ransom.

Arthur is her best friend (let’s face it her only friend) and he is loyal and kind and sensible. He is also good at asking questions and immediately spots flaws in Mallory’s cunning plan. He is not very good at going against her wickedness.

Hmmm! Now I come to the tricky bit, because I want to tempt you to read the book without giving away SPOILERS! This story has the surprising twists and turns of a twisty labyrinth.

The tooth fairy is also cunning! The title tells us that. So yes mean old Mallory catches the tooth fairy, but what happens next is pure reading delight. This is a story of cunning and trickery, but it is also a story of loyalty and friendship – and learning curves!

In order to get the ransom, the tooth fairy insists they must travel to the Chancellor of the Hex Checker in Orolia. All very mysterious. This is the land of teeth and truth. Like all good stories there will be obstacles, things will not always be as they seem and there will be epiphanies (brain and heart flashes of new understandings). There will be mysterious looks and mysterious undertones. You will hear the fierce cry of canines and you will meet the Molars who are Giants who are Pie Chefs who have enormous appetites for enormous pies.

This book has humour spots. At the Customs Gate, Arthur asks the tooth fairy if he should knock and the tooth fairy strongly advises him too, ‘or we’ll be waiting outside the door for a very long time.’

Sometimes humour and logic mix. When Arthur asks the tooth fairy how far to go he gets this perfect answer: ‘about twice as far as halfway’. Love it!

Sometimes you get storybook wisdom: ‘Sometimes the journey is far more pleasant than the destination.’ I feel like that about writing!

I like the way James plays with a saying in order to share a little truth. The tooth fairy reckons Mallory doesn’t always see ‘the wood for the trees’ and Arthur wonders what that means. I love the answer: ‘I think your friend Mallory only sees the world from a very small place called Mallory.’ I hugged that thought!

Mallory, Mallory is a treasure of a book with its story bends, its very cool characters, its wisdom gleams and its excellent ending. I finished this book and I felt warm inside. It is a quiet book that will show you the woods and trees, the tooth and the truth, and make you hungry for more! Which is fortunate as there is a second one in the pipeline: Mallory, Mallory Trick or Treat. Bravo James Norcliffe!

James Norcliffe is an award-winning poet, educator, editor and author of books for adults and children. The Loblolly Boy won the 2010 NZ Post Junior Fiction Award. Since then he has published the sequel, The Pirates and the Nightmaker (2015). You can find details of his other children’s books and awards on the Penguin Random House link below.

Emily walker has twice been shortlisted for the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for Illustration (2017 and 2019) and in 2019 she was also a finalist in the Margaret Mahy Illustration Award. Mallory, Mallory: The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy is her first book commission.

Penguin Random House page

Poetry Box popUP challenge: 2 Kiwi and Ruru poems




The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi  Clare Scott, illustrated by Amy Haarhooff (Penguin Random House)


I loved this book so much I invited you to write a poem using the title – you had 48 hours.

These two little gems arrived. I am sending a copy of the book to Denzel thanks to Penguin Random House.

I am posting my June challenge tomorrow.



The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi

The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi
Take place under the old Totara tree
Ruru and Kiwi gaze at the sky so black
As they enjoy a tasty snack
Kiwi says I love being a night time bird
But daytime birds think it’s a bit absurd
Together they dance in the moonlight
That shines with the stars so bright

By Denzel  Age 8 Sandspit Road School




Ruru and Kiwi


Ruru and kiwi

Went out in the dark

On a beautiful, starry night

They took homemade wings

And a few other things

‘Coz kiwi wanted to take flight


Ruru and kiwi

Climbed a great hill

Up to the highest peak

Ruru jumped and flew fast

But in the end kiwi passed

He’d put holes in the wings with his beak!


Ruru and kiwi

Laughed themselves silly

For thinking they should be the same

Kiwi had his own skills

And Ruru feared thrills

So they shook wings, then went home again


Daniel L (Age 11, year 7, Hadlow School)



Penguin Random House page





Poetry Box review: The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi by Clare Scott and Amy Haarhoff plus 48 hour pop-up challenge and book giveaway



The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi by Clare Scott, illustrated by Amy Haarhoff, Penguin Random House (Puffin)


Amy Haarhoff was the winner of Storyline’s Gavin Bishop Award for illustration. Amy and author Clare Scott are a match made in heaven because the illustrations and the writing sing together so exquisitely.

You have to peer deep into the midnight blue to see the ruru and kiwi. Their big eyes are glinting, the stars, moon and leaves on the trees luminous. Amy’s illustrations give me goosebumps – they are full of life and wonder and heavenly craft.


Clare’s sentences are equally mesmerising:

The ruru and kiwi went into the bush, wrapped snug in night’s velvety black. They took some runny mānuka honey tied up in a flax-woven sack.

Clare writes with the ear of a poet – a musician – so the words flow like honey on the page. Delicious! Sometimes it is the choice of a single word that brings a sentence and indeed the scene alive:


Stars prickled high in the sky

the bush was shadowed and still.


Prickled and shadowed are genius word choices – they sound good, they are a little bit surprising, and they strengthen the night setting. Sublime writing!


This is a book of friendship and sharing. If you have more than enough honey for two birds, it is clearly time to throw a party in the midnight blue. As a party of night creatures arrive (kauri snails, kiwi, pūriri moths, gecko, centipedes, frogs to name a few), Clare’s sentences turn to song with little lines repeating. The book is itching to be read aloud it sounds so good. Best of all the story makes you feel good – like you have just had a wonderful outing.

Book bonus: At the back of the book, you get to meet the night creatures up close and discover fascinating facts about them. This book is such a treasure – beautifully written, beautifully illustrated and lovingly published. It deserves a spot on your shelves, no matter how old you are. I see this becoming an Aotearoa classic. Ah, I just adore it to bits.


And side by side, with no need to hide

they danced by the light of the moon,

the moon,

the moon.

They danced by the light of the moon.



You can discover more about Amy and Clare here: Penguin Random House page


48 hour pop up challenge: Write a poem using the book title. You choose where your poem goes! Send to me by noon on Friday May 29th and thanks to Penguin Random House I will give a copy to one young poet.


send to  paulajoygreen@gmail.com

please include your name age and name of school

don’t forget to put RURU KIWI challenge in subject line so I don’t miss it

don’t put your surname on drawings or paintings or collages (Poetry Box policy)


kia kaha

keep well

keep imagining






Poetry Box review: Kiwi Baby by Helen Taylor

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Kiwi Baby Helen Taylor, Penguin Random House 2020

Pīpī Kiwi Helen Taylor, Penguin Random House 2020



Kiwi Baby is a treasure of a book. Kiwi Iti wakes up to discover an egg next to him, so he goes hunting for his dad, Kiwi Nui. He has a load of questions building up. His dad is very very very patient and answers everything with a dash of wisdom and a sprinkle of love.

The beautiful illustrations are as simple as the writing is economical. With Helen’s deft hand, the kiwi and his dad become exquisitely alive on the page. Adorable!

The book is about kiwi but it is also about asking questions and about giving answers – about being a dad and about being an offspring.

The kiwi dad finishes his answer with: ‘these things take time’.

That feels like something I say every morning when I wake up at the moment. Patience is a good thing.


‘When Baby wakes up, will she play with me?’

‘Not yet,’ Kiwi iti.’

‘I know,’ screeched Kiwi Iti,’ these things take time!’


Some story books fill you with a warm glow and this book is one of them. I won’t spoil the ending and the magic of reading your way through (I hate reviews that do that!) because I want you to find your own copy of the book and fill with a warm glow too! Happy reading!

Oh, and wonderfully, you can also get a version in te reo: Pīpī Kiwi.


Helen Taylor is an award-winning children’s illustrator and artist living ‘in an old yellow house on a red-boned hill in the portside town of Lyttelton’. Her books include A Booming in the Night (with writer Ben Brown) and Kakapo Dance.


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Poetry Box November challenge: Wildlife in Aotearoa poems


Wildlife of Aotearoa Gavin Bishop, Puffin (Penguin Random House) 2019


Check out my review of Wildlife in Aotearoa here.


Watch my deadline as I won’t be here from 28th!


This is my last poetry challenge of the year! It has been a wonderful year full of poetry that has made my heart glad!

As soon as I got a copy of Gavin Bishop’s gorgeous new Wildlife in Aotearoa, I knew I wanted to create a challenge inspired by this extremely important book. It is beautifully illustrated, jam-packed with fascinating facts and raises important questions.

I have spent ages devouring Gavin’s book – musing on the animals that are no longer with us and those that are under threat. I catch his kereru drawing and think about how breathtakingly wonderful it is when kereru squat in our korokio, cabbage trees.




I want to make a poetry map

of wildlife (ANIMALS) in Aotearoa

with poems you send me.




You can write from your own experience of seeing an animal (bird, fish, animal) or you can write from research.

I highly recommend getting a copy of the book (get your own copy of from a library).


Habitats: rivers, lakes, sea, estuaries, wetlands, bush, farms, mountains, cities, towns, houses (think ants or spiders or cats or dogs), museums (think bones and fossils)

Time: night or day animals

Status: Extinct, endangered, thriving, wild, domesticated, farmed


Your poem: for this challenge I will do fact checks! I want you to help me build a poetry record of our wildlife.

Your poem: think about sounds, movements, skin, where the animal lives, fascinating facts, your experiences of it, your discoveries.

Your poem: Think about the way you set your poem out, how long will your lines be? Do you need to make up words (onomatopoeia)?

Your poem: Hunt for fresh similes.

Your poem: Listen to the rhythm as you read it.

Your poem: Poems can be short or long! Which words show me the animal?


Illustration: You may also send a drawing or painting if you like.


h a v e      p o e t r y      F U N


Deadline: 25th November 7 pm

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

Don’t forget to put  WILDLIFE poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 30th November. I will put all the names in a hat and give Wildlife in Aotearoa to one poet.








Poetry Box review: Gavin Bishop’s glorious Wildlife of Aotearoa



Wildlife of Aotearoa Gavin Bishop, Puffin (Penguin Random House) 2019


Gavin Bishop, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator with over 60  books to his name. His honours and awards include the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for services to New Zealand children’s literature and the Te Waka Toi Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka/Sir Kingi Ihaka Award for services to Māori Art and Culture. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for Illustration was established in 2009 and in 2013 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In 2019 Gavin was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-fiction.


Last year, Gavin’s sumptuous and significant Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story won the supreme Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction. Wildlife of Aotearoa is a companion to this book, and it is equally sumptuous and equally significant.

Under their Puffin imprint, Penguin Random House has produced a large hardback book with the look and feel of a book-treasure, a taonga.


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First up are the heavenly illustrations – I make my way through the story they tell in wash and ink. Animated gulls, whales, penguins lead to moa, kea and kiwi; you will find red deer, border collies, domestic cats and cows. Each creature appears with a fascinating fact and where possible the name in te reo. Significant!

I especially love the whale page. The blue whale pakake nui is the largest animal that has ever lived and can grow up to 33 metres long. Try measuring that out!


Each page is like an extremely powerful magnet that holds your eyes because you can’t stop looking and reading. I love the colour-washed backgrounds that might be ocean depths or night sky or forest shades. I love the textures, the movement and the expressions of all the animals. I love the sentences so perfectly crafted.

I also love the way wildlife is everywhere – Gavin shows us wildlife in oceans, rivers, the bush and the sky but he also shows us wildlife in cities. There is one page devoted to the wildlife in a house. Fascinating!


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Another page shows a catalogue of 25 animals that became well known: for example Shrek the sheep, Janie the chimpanzee, Woofwoof the tūī. Extremely fascinating!


Making a book is always a journey for the maker, a thing of discovery – Gavin has structured the book so it is a journey of discovery for the reader. Yes it is a catalogue of our wildlife beginning in the ocean, ‘Tangaroa’s water world’, and moving through land and sky. You will find yourself in a museum looking at old bones, or peeking into the pitch of night or the sweet pink of dawn. You never know what the next page will bring.

Gavin shows us the native animals and the new settlers. I love the way the book makes me think hard about things. The landscape and the wildlife of Aotearoa has changed drastically since the arrival of the colonists:


With European settlement, land changes that were started by early Māori happened much more quickly, and 80 per cent of Aotearoa’s original bush has since been cleared. Many colonists worked hard to transform the “strange” landscape as quickly as possible by introducing foreign plants and animals to make it look more like “home”. A new and hungry breed of wildlife was released, or escaped, into the countryside. Humans, rats, cats, stoats, and possums killed off about 45 per cent of the native bird species of Aotearoa.

We are at a wildlife crisis point in Aotearoa so this sumptuous utterly gorgeous book is necessary reading. You will find animals that are thriving, endangered animals and animals no longer with us. And that makes me both sad and glad.

You will find tricky questions that people are fighting hard to solve. We can’t swim or fish in many of our waterways because more than half are polluted. Farmers work hard to make a living and feed people who eat meat but some farms may not survive as we try and deal with climate change. There is a growing movement of young people wanting to save the planet. Laws will be passed, we will be educated on what we can do to help protect our wildlife, our waterways, our bush and our skies. People have worked hard to create predator-free sanctuaries for birds and sealife under threat.

A book like this brings our wildlife so much closer into view and that matters. This is a book to share and talk about. This is a book to leap and think and write and draw from.

Gavin has worked hard on this stunning book and his mahi and aroha shows. It is a labour of love that comes out of a love of drawing and writing, and a love of Aotearoa. This book deserves a place on a bookshelf in every school library and every home.


To celebrate I have designed my final poetry challenge of the year, November’s challenge around this book.


Penguin Random House author page


Poetry Box review festival and POP-Up challenge 5: Matthew Cunningham and Sarah Wilkin’s Abigail and the Birth of the Sun



Abigail and the Birth of the Sun, Matthew Cunningham with illustrations by Sarah Wilkins,  Puffin (Penguin Random House)


Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!


FRIDAY review


I really love the start to this book:


As Abigail got ready for bed,

she thought of a big question.

It was so big she couldn’t think about anything else.


It was such a big and important question Abigail thought about it whatever she was doing. She was so worried the big question would keep her awake she decided to ask her dad. And when she asked him where the planets and the sun came from he told her they came from stardust just as she did.

Her dad pulled the curtains and they gazed at the night sky (and so did the sleek black cat!). As they gazed into the mysterious black with its planets and stars gleaming he tells Abigail about the birth of the sun.

I really like the way the story is based on facts but the characters in the story (the big old star, the cloud of stardust, the new Sun, a family of planets) have feelings. This is the story of how our solar system came into being – told simply and eloquently.

What stands out in the writing and the illustrations is both a sense of wonder and wondrous things happening. Things that you can put into words but things that are greater than words.

I think Matthew and Sarah must have had such fun working on this because one of the main ingredients in the ink and paint (I am not sure how they wrote or drew but you get what I mean) is love. A love of writing and love of painting and drawing. It shows.

I loved the middle bit – the bright drawings with little fascinations – and the tenderly crafted story with an equal dose of fascinations.

But I especially love the ending because it brings me right back to the way curiosity is such an important part of being human, and how curious questions can make a dad and his daughter share in the wonder of things:


“Daddy,” asked Abigail,

“if I am made of stardust,

does that mean I can shine

like a star too?”

Daddy smiled.

“You will shine brighter than

all of the stars in the sky.”


Abigail falls into a sweet sleep but by morning she as a new question – let’s hope there will be a sequel.

Ah, I feel like I have filled with gleam and good feelings reading this beautifully-produced book. I just love it.


Matthew lives with his wife and daughter Abigail in Wellington. He is an historian with a Doctor of Philosophy, and he has published all kinds of history writing. This is his first picture book for children. At kindergarten he wrote ‘The Clock’ but he didn’t know how to follow lines and said it looked more like alphabet soup.

Sarah was the middle child of seven who dreamed of being an explorer. She loved dreaming and drawing so she became an illustrator, an award-winning illustrator (because illustrating involves dreaming and drawing!). She lives in Wellington.



FRIDAY POP-UP challenge:


Let’s write sun poems.

1   Hunt for sun words and similes. Draw a sun and fill it with the collected words!

2   How many sun verbs can you find?

3    Do a test pot of similes – which surprises you?

4    Do you know or can find any fascinating sun facts?

5.   Use your senses as you get curious. What makes you curious about the sun?

6.   How does your poem sound as you read it?

7    Do you need to make up a word?

8    How will you set your sun poem out?



Deadline: 28th October 9 am

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

Don’t forget to put  SUN poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 28th October. I will have at least one secret give away!





Poetry Box review festival and POP-UP challenge 3: Ruth Paul’s Little Hector stories


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Penguin Random House page


Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!



Ruth Paul has published two books about Hector’s dolphins with Penguin Random House. She is a superb illustrator and is equally deft with words.

The first one – Little Hector and the Blue Whale – came out in 2018. Hector ‘is a small but daring dolphin’ who wants to follow the big dolphins but everyone says he is too small. His ears fill with so many warnings he might pop (he’s had enough!). So he ignores the advice and heads off into the big ocean where all kinds of scary things loom large. Poor Little Hector gets lost – luckily he finds a friend who won’t EAT him and who knows friends stick together when they are in tough spots! It’s a happy ending because Little Hector finds out the very best place for small dolphins to be.

This book is about a rare and special creature who lives in our seas and is one of the smallest dolphins in the world. We need to do everything we can to protect them.

Ruth’s gorgeous illustrations are full of such life, Little Hector catches my eye on every page. I can almost feel the texture of the skin and see him loop and dive as he skims through the water. Which means I get to care about Hector’s dolphins even more.


The second  one –  Little Hector and the Big Idea – came out this year and the illustrations are equally captivating. In this story, instead of coming across ocean treasures like shells and seaweed, Little Hector and his Bottlenose cousins come across junk. All the plastic waste and fishing nets that end up as danger spots for sea life! Fish might try to eat it (DISASTER) and get stuck in it (DOUBLE DISASTER).

I love the way Ruth tells a story that makes me care about the ocean even more, and all the creatures that live in it. I loved the picture of adults and children clearing all the junk off beaches because that’s what we do at Te Henga near where I live.

These two books are essential reading – Little Hector is a delightful character but I also get to learn as I read.

I am very excited there is a third book coming soon: Little Hector and the Mini Māui.





Let’s do poems about Hector’s dolphins.

First: You might like to go hunting for some facts.

Second: You might like to go hunting for dolphin words (think of what they actually look like, some words for how they move in the sea, similes)

Third: Try making little lines using some of the words

Fourth: Use your lines to make a dolphin shape (a picture poem)

OR fifth: Write a dolphin weaving your collected words and a dolphin fact or two

Sixth: Your poem might even bring the plastic in the ocean problem


Does your poem make a picture of a dolphin grow in your head as you read it?

How does it sound as you read it aloud?



Deadline: 25th October 9 am

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

Don’t forget to put  DOLPHIN poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 25th October. I will have at least one secret give away!






Poetry Box review festival (1) and a cat pop-up challenge: The Cat from Muzzle by Sally Sutton and Scott Tulloch

Each day this week I am posting a review of a children’s book published in Aotearoa with a pop-up challenge and a secret giveaway. You will have 48 hours to do the challenge!

MONDAY review

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The Cat from Muzzle: A high-country cat’s incredible walk home,  Sally Sutton with illustrations by Scott Tulloch,  Puffin

Puffin page


Dwayne was a real cat who moved with his family from the remote Muzzle Station in South Marlborough to Kaikoura. But for some reason he decided to walk home. It took five weeks. He had to cross a mountain saddle and the Clarence River. Astonishing!

Sally Sutton has imagined Dwayne’s incredible journey. Here is the start:


Dwayne is tough. His claws are sharp,

His paws are made to roam.

A rumble-tumble tabby cat

who always comes back home.


Sally writes stories with the ear of a poet. Sometimes she rhymes, sometimes she uses alliteration but she is always a whizz with rhythm. I love the rhythm of this story because Sally mixes it up. I felt the rhythm of the cat making its way home – fast, slow, smooth, jumpy, sharp. Listen to this bit – it sounds magnificent! And the sound takes me right into the biting chill and scare of the snow-clambering cat.


He climbed so high, he reached the snow,

Oh, how he shook and shivered!

His teeth clap-clapped.

His poor ears froze.

His wiry whiskers quivered.


Dwayne is a tough cat, a bold cat who just NEEDS to get home! I read this book in one gulp and then showed it to my grown-up family and read it again. I love the way Dwayne had a bit of help on the way – just like we sometimes need a bit of help on the way when we do challenging things.


I also love love love this book because it LOOKS beautiful. Penguin Random House have produced a gorgeous-looking book – the cover is eye catching and the inside design is full of movement and interest.

And most importantly Scott’s illustrations pop with life. I especially love Dwayne the cat. I love the scene where the cat sits looking at the moon in the night sky as a hunter shares the warmth of his fire. Ah, I almost cried. Such a tender look on the face of the hunter.

I recommend this book highly because it will fill you with adventure and wonder and good feelings. Sally Sutton is a silversmith children’s author – I can’t wait to see what she writes next!



Write a poem about a cat – something your cat or a cat you know has done that has surprised you, or made you laugh, or filled you with a warm glow! It might be adventurous or might be something very ordinary that the cat does every day – but is all part of why you love that cat.

Or you could invent a cat story and shape it into a poem.



Deadline: 23rd October 9 am

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

Don’t forget to put cat poem in subject line so I don’t MISS your email.

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Some favourite poems: I will post some favourites on 23rd October. I will have at least one secret give away!


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