Archive for May, 2011

Instant Poems

I assume we are all getting the rain this morning. (It just became heavier when I wrote that!) I feel inspired to give you one of my poetry secrets – and rain is a good thing to write about.

I call these “Instant Poems” – because they’re quick to write and they get your brain working fast.

Line 1: (Use one of these choices…or something similar for the opening)

The rain falls…

The rain pours…

The rain comes down…

Line 2: Hint – this is where we think of something similar to the rain

Choose one of these examples, or one of your own: tears, overflowing tap, waterfall, river…

So if we choose waterfall, our first two lines could be…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff…

Lines 3 and 4: This is where we brainstorm a waterfall (or whichever other similar thing we chose)

Waterfall brainstorm: rushing, thick, thunderous, hidden air pockets, heavy, loud, white out, never ending, incessant, persistent, wet, vertical, soaking etc

We can do anything with these words for lines 3 and 4. Here is an example of how we might use those words together

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

Line 5: This line is about you, your feelings or your wishes.

Start with: I wish, I feel, I think, I wonder, I want

Here are some possibilities:

I wish we could return to the dry sunny silence of yesterday.

I feel scared that it will never end.

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

I wonder if Heaven is crying.

I want to run outside and drink every drop.

Finally: here’s how our rain poem might look…

The rain comes down

Like a waterfall tumbling over an invisible cliff.

It thunders head first to its destination below,

Soaking everything in its path instantly

I think the ground is a magnet for the rain.

So, there you are. An instant poem about the rain. You can use this technique to write about anything in five lines.  I would love to read your instant poems!

Bye for now


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Fun with books on Guardian Children’s Books

The Guardian newspaper in England has just launched a cool new website about children’s books where you can get some more reading ideas and have some fun with books.  There are lots of different areas of the website you can check out, like quizzes about your favourite characters and books, Top Ten lists, videos, competitions and reviews.  Have a look at these:

Have a look around and let us know what cool things you find.

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The True Story of Skipper the Dog

Not many people know this, but my Ready to Read books about Skipper the Dog were originally about a cat. Our cat called Moose (who’s still alive) is a big old white and ginger boy. He’s a bit slow and forgetful now, but in his younger days he was boisterous and funny – and he was definitely an ‘outside cat’. I wrote a true story about Moose the cat, called Outside Moose! and sent it to Learning Media. They loved the idea of an outside cat wanting to be an inside cat. It’s true that one rainy day we let Moose in and he created havoc in the house because he wasn’t used to being inside and was over excited. That was the background to my story.

The editor contacted me and said it was a great idea for a Ready to Read story, but they already had stories about a famous cat called Greedy Cat. She suggested we could change Moose into a dog. I was happy with that, and Moose didn’t mind at all. So the story was kept the same, but the cat called Moose was changed to a dog called Moose.  It was trialled in a black and white version in several schools, which is what happens to all Ready to Read books I believe.

The kids liked the idea for the story and they loved the dog character, but some kids were bothered that a dog would be called Moose. That doesn’t sound like a dog’s name, they said. So the editor contacted me again and said, “you know how we changed Moose the cat to Moose the dog? Now we want to change it to Skipper the dog. Is that okay with you?” I was just so pleased to have a book published that of course I said yes. The title was changed to No, Skipper! and published. I then wrote the next story about Skipper’s Happy Tail, which was also published.

I love finding out the story behind the story. I hope you do too.

Bye for now,


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Caroline Lawrence introduces The Western Mysteries

Did you love The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence?  The exciting news is that she has now started writing The Western Mysteries set in the Wild West, with cowboys, indians and outlaws.  Check out this video of Caroline Lawrence talking about her new series:

Look out for The Case of the Deadly Desperados in the library soon.  To find out more about the series check out Caroline Lawrence’s website for The Western Mysteries.

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Dog stories

Many of you will remember my Ready to Read stories about Skipper the Border Collie dog. I had two stories published and four rejected. The published ones were “No, Skipper” and “Skipper’s Happy Tail”. The rejected ones were about Skipper digging holes, licking people to say hello, dressing up for a competition and nearly going through the carwash on the back of the ute. Sometimes it can be hard for an author to tell why a story has been rejected. I would like to submit another Skipper story and, now that we have a dog, perhaps I will use an example of that in one of my stories.

For example, today our dog Kelsey came to our son’s soccer game. There were other dogs there who were all adult dogs and very well behaved. But our dog is a 9 month old puppy who is very excitable. So a game of soccer is quite something to her! I might write something about her funny (and annoying) antics during the game and see if it can become a new Skipper book. I wonder if any of the readers of this blog have some funny dog stories that might be good for a Skipper story. If you do, make a comment on the blog and tell us all about them.

Bye for now.


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The Adventures of Tintin movie trailer

I’m so excited about this movie!  I’ve loved Tintin since I started reading about his adventures when I was 8 and the movie looks amazing.  We have all of Tintin’s adventures for you to read in the library and you could read The Secret of the Unicorn before you see the movie.

Want to win some Tintin books?  Make sure you tell us about your favourite graphic novel for your chance to win this week’s Reading Crusade Challenge prize.

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Winners of the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards

I was lucky enough to be able to go along to the awards ceremony for the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards last night.  It’s a very sparkly, special night with New Zealand’s best authors and illustrators and I got to meet lots of them.  The winners of each of the categories were announced including the Children’s Choice awards and the Book of the Year award.

The winners are:

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