Tag Archives: poems for children

I love The Language of Cat and 80% of People Prefer Chips to Poems

This week is all about things I love. When I launched my poetry book The Baker’s Thumbprint this year I said I wrote the poems put of love. That’s not to say it is a book of love poems but I just love writing.

So today I am going to share a book I love. Someone whispered the name of this poet to me recently, so I went on a hunt and now I want to whisper the name to you too! It is really great the way we can share books, the names of authors and titles we love.

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The book is called The Language of Cat and other poems. It is written by Rachel Rooney  and illustrated by Ellie Jenkins (Frances Lincoln, 2011).

When I read the poems it makes me want to write a poem. Words start buzzing like bees in my head and I just want to get cracking.

I don’t have permission to post a poem but there is a bit from ‘Defending the Title’ in the photo of the back of her book. It is a really cool poem.

Rachel knows how to make words sizzle and swing and snap and pop and sigh and spark on the page (oooh! ‘the clink of the fork on the china dish’).

She plays with words a lot. I love ‘Just Her and the Poet’ where the end of one line is the start of the next ( I want to try this!). But it gets even trickier as the poem ends up back where it started. Here are two lines: ‘The glow of the page, its inky print, / It’s inky print those thinking lines.’

She has a great sense of humour: There is a poem about what people swallow including a lamp post (please don’t try that!)

She has a bouncy imagination: like what it would be like if the world was the size of a pea and the sun was the size of a beach ball?

I especially love her poems about POETRY!

To celebrate this book you might like to try writing a poem using one of Rachel’s titles and i will post my favourites:

‘The Language of Cat’  (I want to do this one!)

‘80% of People Prefer Chips to Poems’  (oh and I want to do this one!)

‘This Modern Monster’

‘The Poem and the Poet’ (and I want to do this one!)

‘Counting Days’


‘Three Monkeys’

‘Daisy’s Answer’


Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age, year and name of school. You can include the name and email address of your teacher.

In My Village you get little windows onto other languages

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In 2008 Gecko Press published My Village: Rhymes from around the world. The poems were collected by Danielle Wright, the book was illustrated by Mique Moriuchi and there is an introduction by the fabulous British poet, Michael Rosen. The illustrations are gorgeous and made from paint, bits and pieces and collage. Mique was born in London but spent time in Japan and it shows!

Gecko Press have kindly offered two copies of the book to give to two of you who send in poems with words from other languages in (not English!). THank you lovely Gecko Press!

What makes this book so special is not just that it takes you round the world in 22 days (22 poems!), but you get to see the poems in the original language (yeeha!). Even if you don’t know the language it is fun to look at the word and try saying them and see how they do rhyme!

You go to: New Zealand, China, Australia, Norway, Ireland, Tonga, Jamaica, Japan, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Indonesia, Denmark, Iran, Germany, Samoa, Switzerland, Russia, Brazil, France, Holland, Iceland and India.

This is from a Norwegian rhyme:  ‘Hour after hour, / Tick, tack, / Shower upon shower.’

I really loved the Jamaican one and had fun saying it aloud. Here is a sneak preview: ‘Me donkey BUCK / Me donkey LEAP / Me donkey KICK / Wid him two hind feet.’

The Samoan one puts the Samoan words in the with English ones. Here is a bit of it: ‘Savalivali means go for a walk / Tele tautala means too much talk.’

I also love the one from iceland: ‘Bye, Bye, Blacking / Swans are a-clacking.’

It is really tricky trying to change a poem or rhyme from one language to another as the rhymes are not always going to work! But in this book the words dance and shimmy and sway like good rhymes do. The poems are fun. Sometimes you can sing them, sometimes they are like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme, sometimes they are thoughtful. This cool book should be in every classroom so you get little windows into other languages. It is cool!

Not every day at the beach is the same

Often when I go to the beach in the morning there is no one else around for miles, but every day is a little bit different. The waves don’t always look the same, the birds come and go and I see different things washed up on the sand.

Sometimes though things are really different. Like the other day! I wrote about it in this poem:

Not Every Day at the Beach Is the Same


The dog always waits for the surfer.

She lies on the sand and waits

as he rides the wave.

She never barks at our dogs.

Today she was in the water

freezing  her paws off,

staring out to sea

as if she wanted to learn

to surf, or just get home

to chew her bone.


Three people come running

towards me, arms waving, and yelling

blue jacket yellow jacket red jacket.

Then their arms dropped.

‘We thought you were one of us,’

they said.


The dog is still waiting,

her paws must be frozen stiff.


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My bird-poem diary: This morning when I went to the beach I saw the strangest bird

This morning when I went to the beach I saw the strangest bird. I didn’t expect to see this when I started my bird-poem diary.


The Strangest Bird

Blue and yellow feathers that shine like metal

Silver plume on its head that spins in the wind

Clumpy feet that squat on the sand and the grass

This is the noisiest bird I have seen at the beach

and when I hear it coming I duck for cover.

It’s a working bird, it’s a searching bird

it’s a filming bird, it’s a helicopter bird.


My bird-poem diary: There is something really amazing about standing still and watching a bird fly

There is something really amazing about standing still and watching a bird fly.


Bird Flying

Stretching right back like a crane

I can see the gull flying over me —

when the wind is a wall the gull fights hard

to move — but today

when the sky is a shiny blue

the gull coasts on its curve of air

wings spread and full of grace.

My bird-poem diary: Counting the birds at the beach

There are so many different kinds of birds you can see at Bethells Beach. One day last week I saw all these birds and took some photos. See if you can spot the gulls, the dottorels and the pied stilts. Now I have written a poem (see under the photos).

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The Birds at Bethells Beach


Today at the beach I heard the fat oyster catchers

squeaking like steam kettles,


the gulls squawking like rusty tractors

and the dotterel cheeping like baby chickens.


When I went to take a photo of the pied stilts

I jumped over the stream and made a big splash


when I fell in —  my shoes all wet, my scarf

floating away and the birds taking off in fright.


Then a yippity yappity black dog came

and chased all the other birds off.


Sometimes I see paradise ducks

and herons and swallows.


I have even seen a dead albatross

and tried to imagine it flying.



My bird-poem diary: Listening to Simon Morton talk about Moreporks on National Radio

Listening to Simon Morton talk about Morepork on National Radio

I was driving to the supermarket

when I heard Simon Morton on the radio

talking about the morepork.


Moreporks sit up on the line by the studio

in the dark, twitching their heads

to get a better look at Michael.

All they really want to do is

swoop and scoop

that tasty moth flapping

at the window.


I didn’t know the tips

of their wings were the softest feathers

so they can fly through

the night without a sound,


or they can turn their heads

from the front to the back

one hundred and eighty degrees,


or Australians think they

sound like boobooks,


or that the laughing owl

hasn’t been since 1914.


I came home with apples and butter

for apple crumble,

and a big question, so what did

the laughing owl sound like?




Note from Paula. This is what the Laughing owl looked like:


This Week on NZ Poetry Box: my bird-poem diary and one of my favourite picture book writers

This week on Poetry box it is easy — I am going to keep a bird-poem diary and hopefully each day I will post a poem. You could try it. You won’t know exactly what will happen because you won’t know what birds you will see. Check back for some writing bird-poem tips here.

Remember you can enter your bird poems in the competition. Details here.

I will also be posting some of your Spring poems.

AND the other special thing is that I am posting a fabulous interview I did with Kyle Mewburn. If you aren’t a fan of his picture books already … go on a hunt for one (I don’t care how old you are) and curl up and read it from cover to cover and enjoy every bit and bite of it. This is on THURSDAY 12th September.

two sheep under a tree

Today on the way to the beach I saw two sheep under a tree and it gave me an idea for poems, but when I came back to photograph them for you there were no longer two sheep under a tree. They had vamooshed!


But… not far down the road I saw two horses under a tree staring at me. Amazing! So I thought that could be the starting point for a poem too. You could do horses or sheep in my suggestions.

So here are some poem challenges for the weekend:

1. I took a photo of the horses, why not ‘take a poem‘ of the horses (or sheep). So your poem would be catching the horses with words.

2. Think of the horse words you can (or sheep) and play with them until you come up with a horse (or sheep) poem.

3. ‘Two horses under a tree’ or ‘Two sheep under a tree’ might be the last line — but where else might they be? This might be Dr Seuss zany or more serious. It might rhyme or not rhyme.

4. Try a writing a horse poem (or sheep of course) using ten verbs (action words or doing words).

5. Try a writing a two horses under a tree poem with a surprising ending.


Have fun and send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com. Include your name, age ,year and anme of school.

at the end of our garden is the Lake of Fog

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This is what I saw when I looked out the window this morning. It felt like the starting point for a poem. Starting points can take you anywhere! They can lead you to all kinds of poems.

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When I walked along the beach I saw one of the rock faces had become a fog face. I saw the fog racing out to sea down the valley as though it couldn’t wait to get to the water. And as I walked a little fog poem grew in my head. Because we are doing story poems at the moment, my poem became a story poem.

The Lake of Fog

At the end of our garden is the Lake of Fog.

The mother fog lives with the father fog

and their three fog daughters.

They eat fog toast for breakfast with fog butter

and their little foggy cat eats fog sardines.

Today is the second fog daughter’s birthday,

she is wearing a brightly coloured

dress so she can dance in the fog

and not get lost. She will blow

out seven candles and eat vanilla cake.

She will get a skipping rope and

an atlas of the world because

they never know where their lake

of fog will end up next.