Jo van Dam

Welcome to the website!

Scroll down the page to see my books, some photos, a few bits and pieces that didn't make it in to a book and read some handy hints and tips about writing poems... and there are few videos too...


(If you would like to buy a signed/dedicated copy of any of my books, email me at

My Books

Doggy Ditties cover.jpg

'Doggy Ditties from A to Z'

A collection of poems, rhymes and limericks celebrating dogs from every letter of the alphabet. Lots of rhyming and silliness, and great illustrations by Myles Lawford. Spot all the dogs from the book, on the last page. $18.00 plus postage.

A finalist in the Children's Choice New Zealand Book Awards in 2015.

'The Whale and the Snapper'

A very 'New Zealand' retelling of the classic Aesop's Fable 'The Lion and the Mouse'. A story of courage and friendship.

Illustrated by Richard Hoit. $14.00 plus postage.

A young penguin goes on a journey with her grandfather, and meets different creatures that live in the ocean. Spot the hazards on each page. Illustrated by Myles Lawford. $18.00 plus postage.

A young penguin goes on a journey with her grandfather, and meets different creatures that live in the ocean. Spot the hazards on each page. Te Reo Maaori edition. Translated by Piripi Walker. Illustrated by Myles Lawford. N/A


I met a dingo puppy in Australia at the beginning of this year... so cute. Maybe 'D' in Doggy Ditties should have been for Dingo...

McDonalds chose this one to make in to a mini version to go with their 'Happy Meals'. I love the idea of a book rather than a plastic toy. 

Proud moment in 2015 when 'Doggy Ditties' was a finalist in the NZ Post Children's Choice awards.

Unpublished bits and pieces.

After 'Doggy Ditties from A to Z' was published, I decided to write a 'Kitty Ditties from A to Z' and 'Verse from the Surf from A to Z'. I had lots of fun, but the publishers didn't go for them.... here are a couple of poems from the manuscripts. 

Pp Panther.

There once was a Panther called Megan,

Who stopped eating meat, became vegan.

She doesn't eat muscles,

For her it's just brussels,

A peculiar Panther called Megan.

Zz Zebrafish.

Zander, Mr Zebrafish, has blue and golden stripes.

Zoe, Mrs Zebrafish, has stripes of black and white.

Zed and Zane and Zeek, their kids, 

have neither black nor blue...

nor white nor gold,

no stripes at all... 

Their kids are quite see-through!

Tips for writing  poetry.

Writing poems is like painting a picture, but instead of paint, you use words.

Poetry is great fun to write. You get to play with words...

Find rhymes: icky, sticky ... fur, purrrrr

Use alliteration: Pete the pongy pug

Create unusual metaphors: the kids were frogs on the trampoline

Or similes: she was as tiny as a baby flea

Use onomatopoeia (much easier to use than to spell!): ZOOM! SPLISH! 

Make your poems in to shapes. Long and thin, short and fat, the shape of a diamond or a banana!

Check the rhythm of your poem. Clap your hands to the beat as you read it out loud. If it goes wonky, then add or take out words to make the rhythm work... make each line have the same number of syllables if you want a poem with an even rhythm.

BUT... not all poems have to have a consistent rhythm, or rhyme, or any of the above. Unless you are writing a Haiku poem, or a Limerick, which have set syllables and rhythms, your poem can be free form and whatever you want YOUR poem to be!


Experiment with words, and have FUN!


Video 1. The Whale and the Snapper by Jo van Dam read by Jo... for Mother's Day.

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Video 2. A. A. Milne poems, read by Eeyore... (Jo)...

Video 3. Eeyore returns with some more poems from A.A. Milne...


New book coming out in May next year. Watch this space...

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