Tag Archives: Te Papa Press

Poetry Box popUP challenge: my favourite colossal squid poem

Colossal Squid

An icy freezing cold home
Down in the deepest darkest depths of the Southern Ocean
The mighty red Colossal Squid
Gracefully glides through the sea like a ballerina

Denzel G, 9 years old, Year 4, Sandspit Road School

This week I posted a review of this fabulous book:

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep by Victoria Cleal, illustrated by Isobel Te Aho-White, Te Papa Press, 2020

I invited you to write a colossal squid poem to celebrate the arrival of the book and gave you 48 hours. Te Papa Press are kindly sending a copy of the book to the poet I picked.

Congratulations Denzel! I loved reading your poem which showed how a handful of words can create a captivating scene.

Check my blog next week as I may hide another popUP challenge with a cool giveaway.

My review of Whiti.

Poetry Box review: Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep plus a 48- hour poem challenge

Victoria Cleal, illust. Isobel Te Aho-White Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep Te Papa Press 2020

Thanks to Te Papa Press I have a book to give to one child who tries my popUP challenge below.

Since her arrival in 2007, the colossal squid has been the most popular exhibit at Te Papa. Now there is a sparkling new book that shares Whiti’s story – and indeed the story of colossal squid and other sea creatures that live in Ross Sea’s biting cold in Antarctica.

This book takes us on a journey to Antarctica — you feel like you are there with your warm layers (it’s colder than your fridge), watching out for the animals that can live in this harsh place. BUT this is an underwater story. We need to dive down deep and discover the fascinating life below the ice.

I love the way pages unfold to give you a panoramic view of underwater life because the underwater world is utterly fascinating.

Look for the giant sea spiders that are not really spiders but have 8 legs and are the size of dinner plates!

Or the volcano sponges that are sometimes big enough to fit a diver inside.

Find out how a colossal squid egg is the size of an ant. The bulgy-eyed babies feed off plankton, but penguins and other creatures like to eat the babies! These tricky squid babies are hard to spot as they are virtually see through and they (maybe) squirt out black ink to muddle the predator.

Find out how the adult squid travels and lives in the deep deep dark dark water with her eyes growing like headlights (bioluminescence).

The writing is FABULOUS.

The illustrations are CAPTIVATING.

The book is a fact finder’s DELIGHT!

I love the way similes help you get a COLOSSAL SQUID picture: ‘Whiti gobbles the toothfish the way you’d eat a corncob.’ GENIUS!

Or the fact Whiti’s brain is shaped like a doughnut!

Or the fact colossal squid get redder as they get older: ‘Red stands out in our light-filled world – think of pōhutukawa flowers. But red light can’t reach far down in wai. Red animals in the deep just look black, like the wai around them.’

You will also get to track other sea creatures: the slow-paced, long-living toothfish, the precious parāoa sperm whales with their wide hungry jaws, the bendy-boned snailfish, the wheke octopus / dumbo octopus.

This is an important book because Antarctica is an important place: ‘Aotearoa New Zealand and many other countries have agreed to be the kaitiaki guardians of the Antarctica and keeps its mauri strong. New Zealand helped make a big part of the Ross Sea a marine protected area. It’s now a safe place in the moana for plants and animals.’

I love the way Victoria uses te reo Māori as she tells the story of Whiti.

The book also shows us we can keep an eye out for ngū squid and wheke octopus in rock pools on our coastlines.

What a magnificent resource this book is. Get a copy for your shelf and then give a copy to a curious child.

POP-UP challenge: I will give one copy of the book to a child that sends me a colossal squid poem with one curious fact in it. You have 48 HOURS!

Deadline: Friday 22nd October at noon

email: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

include: name, age, year, name of school

don’t forget to put SQUID POEM in subject line so I don’t miss it.

Poetry Box review: The Nature Activity Book with a hidden 72 hour POPUP challenge for you



The Nature Activity Book: 99 Ideas for Activities in the Natural World of Aotearoa New Zealand, Rachel Haydon, illustrated by Pippa Keel, Te Papa Press, 2020


This book is FABULOUS! I think every home and classroom should have a copy of The Nature Activity Book. The book is a treasure house of possibilities for rainy days, for sunny days, for days when you feel bored, for days when we need to stay in our bubbles.

The Nature Activity Book is exquisitely written, beautifully illustrated and lovingly crafted. It is a book that opens our understanding of and relations with the natural world. If you love discovering, testing out, exploring, making, collecting, drawing this is the book for you!

If you are a curious child who loves MUCKING ABOUT & CREATING in order to discover things – including QUESTIONS – this is the book for you!

You might need: pens pencils paper paint chalk string ruler glue nails wire straws

AND the book shows science and imagination are GOOD FRIENDS because Rachel has been very imaginative in creating the activities.


There are five cool categories:


Shapes and Patterns

Environment and Spaces

Experiments and Enquiry

Sense and Mindfulness

Action and Kaitiakitanga


These are strange unsettled Covid times for us all – I think the Sense and Mindfulness activities might be perfect over the coming weeks. Well the whole book really. I love the one called ‘Peace of Mind’. You could try this today. Jot down your answers and then give it a go!


What activity makes you calm or gives you peace of mind?

Where do you need this activity? Do you need anything for it?

Encourage your friends or whānau to try the activity. How do they feel when

they do it?


Hidden challenge: Try the Peace of Mind or the Mandala challenge and send me a letter or poem about what you did and how it went. Deadline: Monday 17th, 4 pm. Include your name age year school. Put Peace of Mind in subject line. Thanks to Te Papa Press I am going to give a copy of the book away.

I want to try so many things in this book! And I am an adult.


Here is another mindful activity that would be very cool to do this weekend. You can use what is in your back garden. If you don’t have chalk you could use string or leaves or pebbles or paper to make the shape. This is one of my hidden challenges – draw or photo what you make and send details as above.


The Nature Activity Book_Mindful mandalas.jpg



The Nature Activity Book gets us to LOOK MAKE DRAW COLLECT FEEL.

Here is another activity for you to check out. I love the way CURIOSITY is King! I have always thought poets are curious. Creating poems is a way of being curious about ourselves and the world we live in!

I so love this activity. How wonderful to look for things that FASCINATE us. This is the perfect time to track down what we find fascinating. Give this a go! It is exactly what poets do.



The Nature Activity Book_Curiosity is King


One last page to tempt you! I so hope every classroom and every home in Aotearoa buys a copy of this book – because the rewards will be feel-good! This book makes me warm and happy and tingly inside – that’s what happens when I get curious.


The Nature Activity Book_Egg carton seedlings.jpg



I LOVED this book so much my head started to bubble and brew poetry ideas as I read. In fact I got so many poem ideas reading this book, I am going to pick one or two for my September poetry challenge and thanks to Te Papa Press I am going to give a few copies of the book away.

Congratulations Rachel, Pippa and Te Papa Press: this book is a most glorious treat for the curious child.


Te Papa Press page


Rachel Haydon is a qualified primary school teacher and scientist with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a Master’s in Marine Science. She has more than 15 years’ experience of teaching science to children of all ages in schools, museums, zoos and aquariums in Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Aotearoa New Zealand. She has been lucky enough to work at the Natural History Museum (London), the Zoological Society of London, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

Rachel is committed to motivating children of all ages to get outside and explore, and to enjoy and protect the natural world and all that lives within it.

Pippa Keel is an award-winning illustration designer, who has an Honours degree in illustration and a huge love of the outdoors. From her small studio in Wellington, Pippa has worked with a variety of New Zealand-based companies and publishers, including Zealandia Ecosanctuary and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Getting outside into nature to camp, tramp and explore has been a part of Pippa’s life since before she could walk, so she was stoked to help create this book and encourage others to do the same.






November challenges: reinventing acrostic poems and leaping off from art


I am going to post a few more things between now and December but these are the last challenges for the year.


I was inspired by two books:

a poem by James Brown in Annual 2 which I really really LOVED (check it out!!)

and the brand new, absolutely AMAZING  The New Zealand Art Activity Book.


There are two challenges!


I will have a copy of The Letterbox Cat and a copy of The New Zealand Art Activity Book (grateful thanks to Te Papa Press) to give away.


Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com by 27th November. I will post some favourites on 30th November.

Please include your name, age, year and name of school. I won’t post poems if I don’t have these details.

IMPORTANT:  Put ACROSTIC POEM or ART POEM  in the subject line of the email please. PLEASE say which artwork you picked under the title of your poem or in subject line of email.

First Up: Art Poems



The New Zealand Art Activity Book by Helen Lloyd, Te Papa Press 2017 (a new edition)

Te Papa Press have published a new art activity book and it is such fun. Helen Lloyd chose more than 50 artworks in the museum collection and asked 15 artists to do page works for the book especially.

You get to see old works and news works, from famous artists and not so famous artists, from Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika and Asian artists.

I really really like this book  because not only do I get to check out art but there are very cool activities. It is the perfect book for the summer holidays when you want a break from gadgets or tree climbing or boogie boarding.

You can colour in, make a tivaevae or flying sculpture, design a treasure box or patterns. There are 150 pages of things to do and look at.

I thought it might be fun to use one of the artworks as a starting point for a poem.


The challenge:

Pick an artwork. There are four images below to choose from.

let the artwork take you wherever you like!

You might take one small thing in the work that catches your eye as a starting point. Then you can leap into your imagination.

You might just use a colour and see where it leads you – mindwander on a page before you start writing. Especially for Sara’s painting.

Does anything in the painting hook a memory? Use that for your poem.

Play with colour words to make a word pattern (blue ultramarine grey). Try doing it in black font. Listen to your poem.

Try describing what you see in the painting in a poem. Play with the words.

Explore the feeling you get from the painting in a poem.

Invent a little story that your imagination hooks up from the work.

Try painting a picture with words – real things help make pictures grow.


Four artworks from four of my favourite NZ artists to choose from:



  1. ‘Millions of colours’ by Sara Hughes




2. ‘Ulumago’ by John Pule



3. ‘Untitled’ by Saskia Leek



4. ‘The dancing chicken’ by Dick Frizzell



Thank you!!!!   Activities/images reproduced with permission from The New Zealand Art Activity Book by Helen Lloyd, published by Te Papa Press. Available at all good bookstores or online here.


Second Up: Acrostic Poems


We all write acrostic poems where the first letters of each line spell a word – and often it is just one word that follows:


My cat





Sometimes the lines stretch and make the poem grow:


My cat

Catching scraps of paper

As though she is a vacuum cleaner,

The tail flicks, the whiskers quiver.


James Brown though was a very tricky acrostic poet because he made the first letters make a word and the last letters make a word. I have had a go with my cat poem:


My cat

Cheeky cat crept,  kitchen hectic

Ate the fishy pasta

That  we cooked tonight.


I decided to try putting the word in down the middle of the poem:


My Cat

The Cat sleeps on

my lAp, dreaming

of sTrange sardines.


Have fun playing with what acrostic poems can do!


And    h a v e   fun doing these two challenges.

An award-winning book from Te Papa: 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa — this is a treasure box


Te Papa Press makes beautiful books. This book was first published in 2012 and was a winner at the Children’s Book Awards. It is a fabulous, fun, facty book that really inspires me to do things!

i    l o v  e     t   h  i   s      b  o  o  k  !

This is the perfect book to have over summer because it is a DIP and DELVE book.

You can SINK into pictures and SWIM through facts and GLIDE through stories.

There are even DVDs of the TV series Tales from Te Papa.

Simon Morton and Riria Hotere were the EXPLORERS and DELVERS and AUTHORS of the book.

Some of my favourite topics so far:

Cloud of Kiwi English

Almighty Albatross

Dinosaur Tooth

Ocean Armour

Whale of a Mystery

Art of Tinned Food

Pigeon Post

Mail Order Moths

Seaweed Pantry

Snail Mail

Nature’s Hitchhikers

Pacific Princess

Curious poems, curious things–thank you Curioseum!

The_Curioseum_cover-197x300   The_Curioseum_cover-197x300

I introduced you to this astonishing new book from Te Papa Press called The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and the Marvellous (It’s filled to an electric brim with poems, stories and illustrations). You can hear some of the writers read here! See my post here.

These are my favourite poems from my challenge to write about an object that fascinates you.

It was really hard to pick just one poet to give a copy of the book to, but thanks to Te Papa Press I am sending a copy to Mitchell. I loved how he used so few words to say so much. He made the watch come alive for me.

First up Ewen‘s terrific poem. I love the mood of this poem and I definitely agree with the ending! She told me: ‘I borrowed this book, The Curiouseum, from our local library and my favourite part was ‘The Saurus’ by Marisa Maepu, I loved how this animal ate so many words that it couldn’t fit in its book! My poem is about my grandfather’s calculator.’


Complicated Simplicity

From my grandfather

math teacher,

something filled

with numbers.


Inscribed in small,

delicate letters,

‘mini calculator’

it says.


Though how

does it work,

my brother comes

to see,

clicking numbers

discovering how.


It’s simple when

you know how

but more complicated

than it looks.


Ewen aged 11, Year 7, Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch


Dylan‘s poem has super-duper detail and super-duper similes. I love the picture it makes in my head and I love the ending! Great job!


My Witch

I bought a witch from the shops.

Her hat is like a dinner-plate

with a carrot on the top.

Her hair looks like spider webs

her eyes are like pebbles.

Her eyebrows are like caterpillars

or worms.

Her nose is bony

she has a broomstick chin.

Her shoes are black and old

(they are dirty too)

her toes are poking out.

I think my witch

needs a bath.

by Dylan O, 6yrs old, Year 2, Roydvale School, Christchurch


My other favourite poems for this challenge came in a cluster from Russley School in Christchurch. The teacher (and writer!) Melanie Koster told me this:  ‘I brought in some old, curious objects to school to inspire the young poets. We had an old pocket-watch, a florin and a battered old German dictionary that was given to my grandfather while he was in a POW camp in Germany.

I got a copy of The Curioseum and read a couple of pieces to the children (fantastic book! Thanks for the recommendation!) We also listened to some of the writers read their work on YouTube.’

How wonderful! Here is what a couple of the young poets came up with (I loved them all but just picked a few to post today):

I love the way Riley‘s poem ends and the way it flows:


Bang! Clatter!

I’m made.

1962 has a new florin in town.


I’ve met up with my million relatives.

I’m thrown in a big sack.

The top opens

thousands of my relatives

start screaming.

As they go away from me

tears start to roll down

my surface.


As 46 years have passed

I’ve nearly been around every shop

but one

antique store.


I see a person walking in

through a small crack

in the cash register

He purchases a pound of butter

he hands over five dollars

the register opens

I’m handed over to the man.


He walks straight over the road

and into the antique store.

He looks at me and I look back

I’m put on the shelf

as an antique.

By Riley G, Year 7


Holly‘s poem has great detail and sounds good when you say it out loud:

I Am the Great Old Book

I’m old

a great old book

I’m thin

the front of me is bent

I was published in Great Britain

my spine is getting wrecked

and turning light green

edges coloured with pinky purple

and cream

By Holly, Year 5


MItchell‘s poem shows how an object can hold such memories and move you:

The soldier’s watch

looks like a circle

the back is green

with silver sparkles


sounds like guns

banging very loud


feels sad in the heart

missing family


smells like gunpowder

By Mitchell, Year 7


Azryn‘s poem is short but full of things to discover in it:

Understanding German


The old tattered spine

has string falling out.

Nowhere to go but on a bookshelf.

Should it be in a museum or

should it be in a house?

My prisoner of war number will always

be remembered.

By Azryn Year 6


Monica‘s poem makes a book come alive inside her poem with stunning detail. I loved it!:

Life of a Book

I was once a beautiful tree.

My leaves were so smooth that they shined,

but the axe cut through my waist,

a disgusting stump left behind.


My body was sliced into slithers,

a needle stitched me together.

Words were tattooed on my belly,

I was bound in a cover of leather.


I rode in a monster of wheels,

to a place of joy and delight.

I was placed with more of my kind,

and stayed there overnight.


In the early morning a bell rang,

adults and kids filled the shop

I felt myself fly through the air,

and then I came to a stop.


In front of my cover a girl stood,

she opened me up wide,

she read the words that covered me

I felt an amazing feeling inside.


I heard her read my story,

of adventure, mystery and quest,

I felt the love that she had for me,

my heart felt very blessed.


Now I’m a very old book.

my home is the little girl’s shelf.

I’ve watched her live her life.

now she’s getting old herself.


That girl made my life amazing,

I’m glad I’m the one that she took

I was once a beautiful tree,

and now I’m a beautiful book.

By Monica K, Year 7