Give & Take: The Garden Within

The Seeds of Gratitude by Sharon Davson (oil on canvas)

On Sunday 20th October 2019 I was proud to deliver this following speech at the District 69 Area 9 Toastmasters Conference:

Friends share all manner of things.  And sometimes, the effects of what we give & take reverberate in amazing ways.  Has your world ever been rocked by a fabulous friend?  Mine was recently.  It involves a picture, a poem and some children in India.  Ladies and Gentlemen, you are all someone’s fabulous friend, even if you don’t realise it.

My friend Sharon Davson is a spiritual artist, whereas I write Science Rhymes for children.  Sharon is very religious, whereas I am not.  I respond best to fact and evidence, whereas Sharon gives prayer and gratitude.  I tell her off for not reading her emails whereas she empowers me to follow my dreams.  We both agree … to disagree … sometimes!

Of course, we have things in common as well: similar age, backgrounds in teaching, and we’re both passionate about creativity.  And since neither of us have children, our pictures and poetry have become our progeny.  And we want them to leave home and do good in the world.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – depending on how you look at it.  So would you consider my poem The Garden Within is a success or a calamity?  Here are three facts to help you decide.

Number One: The poem The Garden Within was inspired by Sharon Davson’s painting of a koala sharing a variety of seeds with other creatures, amidst a big blue sky and rocky foreground of flowers.  Titled The Seeds of Gratitude, this oil painting is one of Davson’s treasured successes.  It’s housed in the Hikaru Museum in Takayama, Japan and has strong ties with the Sukyo Mahikari faith.  You can see it on the Science Rhymes website with the poem, The Garden Within, which I wrote especially for Sharon.  It goes like this:

There is a garden in my heart,
where beauty grows in fits and starts.
Where smiles are petals from the flowers,
bestowed by others from their bowers.

Nutritious hope reaps seeds to feed
my spirit for its every need.
With gratitude I’ll reach my goal
and touch the island of my soul.

Fact Two was a complete surprise: in 2018, I received an email from a school teacher in India revealing that, since 2015, this poem has been recited by children there, because it’s published in the official government’s school textbook Our World Through English Class 8, in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.  When sharing this news with writing friends, they say “What? They published your poem without asking your permission? That’s not allowed.  What a calamity! … No royalties for you then”.  I’m not concerned about the royalties, I’m honoured my poem has been chosen. But I really want them to give me a physical copy of this book to cherish.  I’ve sent requests, but as yet, no reply, no book and yes I am disappointed!  But …

Fact Three: Discovering all the YouTube videos of students reciting and singing the words to The Garden Within has overwhelmed me, but I remember I wrote this poem in Sharon’s voice. It was my gift to a Fabulous Friend. And now, this little poem has been embraced by people who measure richness, like Sharon, with prayer and gratitude.

Love and friendship are filled with give & take.  And now I’ve befriended those children on YouTube, they have shown ME  With gratitude, I’ll reach my goal, to touch the island of my soul.

May you share this sentiment with your Fabulous Friends too.



I carry a cotton bag …

I carry a cotton bag in my pocket
by Sukarma Thareja & Celia Berrell

Sometimes simple is simply the best.
A light cotton bag can pass this test.

To mother-nature our plastic is toxic.
It won’t break down, so we can’t compost it.

Plastic bag use?  We need to stop it.
Instead, keep a cotton bag in that pocket!

Like Gandhi’s humble spinning wheel,
natural fabrics have homespun appeal.

A symbol of self-sufficiency
with an eco-friendly guarantee.


Moon Poems

2019 marks 50 years since humans first landed on the Moon.  Below, we are sharing Moon Poems to celebrate.

I am the Bleeding Moon  by Kaya
(Whitfield State School)

When day turns to night,
I peek over the mountains,
As quiet as a still night.
I am the bleeding Moon.

Dogs howl,
Nocturnal animals scatter in fear,
Creatures scuttle.
I am the bleeding Moon.

I come every couple of years,
I float proudly above the clouds,
Full-faced in sunset’s lingering light.
I am the bleeding Moon.

Flash, snap, flash,
Crowds of people look up at me,
Like a throng of paparazzi.
Flash, snap, flash.

A soufflé of clouds
Brush against my blood-red, rusty face,
The I slowly,

Snuggle into a sleepy pillow
Of dark thunder-clouds covering my crimson face.
I wait patiently to return
And totally eclipse your night again.

Am the bleeding Moon.


Full-Moon by Jaryn
(Whitfield State School)

Oh Moon, full-Moon, you’re rising high,
a shiny coin in night-time’s sky.
Very mindful of your phases,
displaying all your different changes.
Sometimes thin and sometimes bright,
full-Moon is like a ball of light.
The Moon is weird in every way,
and that’s why I want our Moon to stay.


The Moon and our World by Jarrod
(Whitfield State School)

The Moon shines
as hounds whine.

People joke it’s only cheese
glowing through the fluttering leaves.

It spreads over our homes like a towel
as majestic wolves begin to howl.

Along with one-sixth gravity
it fascinates society,

giving surfers tidal waves
that swirl inside a crystal cave.

When astronauts walked on its surface,
humans had reached their furthest.


One Big Step for Me  by Ruby
(Whitfield State School)

Gathered round old televisions
or listening to radio stations
witnessing that “one big step”
fifty years ago.

rising and falling,
controlling the tides,
radiant and bright
though never alight.

Your dusty black land
with rocks, shards of sand,
highlands and craters
makes Moon’s unique textures.

There’s still so much to learn
so, to the Moon we will return.
I wonder …
will I ever get a turn?


Silvery Moonlight  by Georgia
(Whitfield State School)

The silvery Moon
shines softly at night,
giving us peace
and bright white light.

Sleepy children
off to bed,
stories read
to fill their head.

Kittens nuzzle,
puppies cuddle,
under the silvery Moon
they’ll huddle.

as elegant as can be,
circles the sky
so far from me.


Earth and Moon  by Amber
(Whitfield State School)

Moon’s silvery light across the water.
In the night she’s silver in colour,
reflecting light from the Sun.
That’s not all, there’s more to come.

No oxygen, no air,
Neil Armstrong was the first one there.
He wore an extra-special suit,
expensive as diamonds and loot.

If Earth’s a fishbowl full of water,
a cheeky fish that’s filled with laughter,
floats around our sea of space,
orbiting Earth.  Her favourite place.


My Moon by Nithya
(Minaret College)

The Moon and stars
play all night.
When Sun comes,
Moon disappears.

Moon and Sun fight,
Moon steals sunlight,
and that’s how it
glows in the dark.


My Satellite Poem by Lavanya
(Glendal Primary School)

We see it in the spacious sky
as if it floats so very high
reflecting light that grows so bright,
we sometimes cover our eyes.

Huge craters and flat plains called seas,
we sometimes gaze, amazed at these.
This is the Earth’s own satellite.
Our Moon, for everyone to see.


Wednesday Poetry Club

For students who wish to write poems about their reef and rainforest experiences at Cairns Aquarium.

Celia Berrell is offering year 4-8 students (groups of 12-16) who have participated in a guided educational tour of Cairns Aquarium a 45 minute poetry presentation with follow-up support so they can share their poems for possible publication. Celia will attend your school and share poems and poetry techniques with an aquatic theme. This programme is available on Wednesdays in Terms 2 & 3 (cost $60) and requires PowerPoint facilities. Each participating student is asked to provide a parental/adult email address, so Celia can correspond with each student about their poem after the presentation. Please make bookings directly with Celia via mobile 0408 069 192 or email

Selected poems will be submitted to Cairns Aquarium for future display and/or publication opportunities.

Celia Berrell’s poetry is regularly published in the CSIRO’s children’s science magazine Double Helix and Australian Children’s Poetry. She holds Blue Card #836652/4 and is registered in the One School system through previous school presentations. This website offers free resources that are appreciated worldwide.

Dragons at Mt Molloy

Bearded Dragon  by Pepita
(Mount Molloy State School)

Its beard goes black when it’s angry.
It’s scaly and smells a bit tangy.
It runs really fast on its long hind legs
and waves its hand when it begs.

Australian Bearded Dragons can make themselves look scary by puffing out a flap of skin under their jaw. They can be seen communicating with each other from a distance, bobbing their heads and bodies up and down. And when they concede defeat, they give a little wave with their forearm!  Some people think they make Oddly Cute Pets too.

Insect Poems

The Boxing Mantis by Nika
(Trinity Beach State School)

A praying mantis is green
so it blends-in to help it hide.
It has big, brave bulging eyes
that never ever blink.

They eat other insects
and juicy green leaves,
but luckily for us
they don’t eat people.

They have four long swaying legs
and two strong punching legs
that bend-up by their chin
so they look like they’re going to










Insect Limerick  by Pamela Koltunicki

There once was a bug named Tattoo
who loved rolling big balls of poo.
One day, pushing faeces,
he saw the same species,
and yelled, “you’re a dung beetle too!”








Scavenging Achievers  by Sukarma Rani Theraja

I was asleep
when a copper-coloured beetle touched my feet.

Strongest insect that fondly eats
our planet’s daily waste.
Rolling, digging and tunnelling dung,
it sings songs of life with balls of dung.
Forwards and backwards into balls,

Rolling, rolling spheres of manure,
picking-up seeds at every turn.
Moving, dispersing and fertilizing
seeds on-the-move by rolled dung balls.

Digging, digging to bury those balls.
A store of moisture, a harvest of food.
A safe abode and nursery,
brooding babies, all-in-a-ball.

Tunnelling, tunnelling, spreading that dung,
repeatedly changing the texture of soil.
Porosity, quality, germination
all get better where dung beetles dwell.

Egyptians and Adivasi knew
the values of these scarab saviours.
So keep these achievers in the loop,
revere those scavenging beetle troops,
cleaning up our planet’s poops.







Picture-Book Poetry Party 2018

Sunday 21st October 2-3pm at Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside, 209 Esplanade, Cairns.

This year, local author Deanna Henderson will be reading her picture-book There’s a Zoo in my backyard, and sharing some of her fascinating stories from Minibeast Wildlife, where she works with insects (such as the praying mantis), spiders and other fascinating invertebrates.

Students from Whitfield State School will be reciting poems created for this year’s National Science Week, themed Game Changers & Change Makers, and students from Trinity Beach State School are sharing poems about INSECTS!

This is a FREE EVENT, aimed to delight pre-school & primary-school aged children and their parents.  Bring along a favourite Picture-Book to receive a raffle ticket in the draw for a book voucher from Collins Booksellers Smithfield or a gift from Minibeast Wildlife.

This is the fifth POETRY PARTY hosted by Celia Berrell & Science Rhymes.
















Sponsored by: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside & Collins Booksellers Smithfield

Book Launch 10th August

How exciting – to be granted a 2.30pm LAUNCH at this year’s Cairns Tropical Writers Festival for The Science Rhymes Book – Second Edition!
It is going to be a really enjoyable event.


















I have invited Dr Clifford Jackson from James Cook University to say a few words. Cliff spent over a year analysing the poems in this book to check that the science concepts portrayed were sound. And this is what makes “The Science Rhymes Book” rather special. It isn’t simply a fun book of verse, it’s also a carefully crafted science resource book!

After sharing some highlights about this book’s journey – from concept, self-publishing and then partnership publishing with Jabiru Publishing – we will showcase a selection of the poems. I say “we”, because most of the poems will be delivered by students from Whitfield State School who have been attending this year’s lunchtime Poetry Club.

Here’s a plan of The Science Rhymes Book LAUNCH Programme:












I hope to see you IN THE BALLROOM if you have time to attend.


A Science Hall of Fame

This collection of poems is shared by their creators to celebrate National Science Week 2018 (11-19 August), its theme of GAME CHANGERS AND CHANGE MAKERS, with aspects of science that have inspired and fascinated.












(Click on the blue “Game Changers” writing below to find out more about the scientists in this poster)

Game Changers

Dr Sukarma Thareja from India began, by reminding us that famous figures, such as Thomas Edison, didn’t necessarily shine when they were at school! Haywood Ho Hei tells us how one of science’s the most impressive theories, Quantum Mechanics, was almost abandoned by its originator (Max Planck), until it was taken on by those around him. Science and discovery can take incredible diligence, focus and hard work, while at other times, it just happens accidentally. And talking of accidents, not all scientific endeavours have been for the greater good. Introducing the South American Cane Toad to Queensland Australia was simply a catastrophe!

An Ode to Stephen Hawking  by Rowen
(Woodville High School)

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant mind!
Very clever, successful and kind.
One of our best scientific pioneers
with one of the most glittering careers.

Incredibly gifted throughout his time,
a theoretical physicist in his prime,
he became a role model to many young people,
but sadly one day he was rendered near-feeble.

Diagnosed with motor neuron disease
his health declined in small degrees.
But he didn’t give up, no, he pushed ahead,
although his peers thought he’d soon be dead.

He kept living on, yes, he cheated death
until March 14th when he took his last breath.
His students, and theirs, talk of him in a way,
that connects with us all, every hour, every day.

They say this great man was one-of-a-kind.
Stephen Hawking enshrined that brilliant mind.


Calculators  by Georgia
(Whitfield State School)

Those magical math-multiplying machines:
what would we do without them?

We’d sit in a maths test, yawning, so boring
all the way to tomorrow morning!

If doing sums you ever fear,
don’t worry, calculators are here.

But what is inside; what are they really?
A special machine that tells answers clearly.

Now that we’ve got them, what to we do?
Trust them completely – their answers are true.


Lucky Galileo  by Imogen
(Whitfield State School)

Renaissance astronomer Galilei
showed that the Earth revolved round the Sun.
Defying the views of the holiest place,
some Catholics wanted him burned at stake.

Instead, he’s imprisoned in home-arrest
where Bubonic Plague wasn’t a pest.
This “Black Death” caused headache, fever and chills
then lymph glands, like boils, began to swell.

Safe from disease, his life was enhanced.
Protected from getting boils in his pants!


Clever Ada  by Coby
(Whitfield State School)

Ada Lovelace liked music.
And she was also good at maths.
She wrote a guide, “Flyology”.
She’s a dreamer from the past.

At a ball, she met Charles Babbage
whose incredible machine
was called “The Difference Engine”
and only ran on steam.

This was the first computer that
the world had ever seen
and Ada wrote its programs.  She’s
the world’s first Coding Queen!



Meeting E.T. At Cairns Aquarium  by Kaya
(Whitfield State School)

This porcupine fish can change personality.
From small, shy and cute, to puffed-up all-angrily.
Oh, E.T. you have such big eyes,
they make it so hard to say goodbye.
I wonder, have you met E.T?
If not, I think you’d better see me!

This porcupine fish melts hearts every day.
A Diodon Globefish and species of ray.
Oh, E.T. you have so much love to share,
In Cairns Aquarium, we can’t help but stare.
If all you go, please say hello.
Oh, E.T. I love you so.


Aqua  by Jade
(Whitfield State School)

Aqua is the colour of waves on the ocean
when blue skies and sunshine are passing by.
Aqua is the sound of water crashing.
Its power and strength we can’t deny.

Aqua is the smell of the salty ocean
where sodium chloride will spray and spin.
Aqua is the taste of the briny sea
touching and tingling against my skin.


Superior Saturn  by Charlie
(Whitfield State School)

Saturn’s the sixth planet from the Sun
and my favourite in our galaxy.
With its nine astonishing icy rings
that orbit and hang due to gravity.

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon,
found by a Dutch Astronomer
which later led Christiaan Hugens
to become really popular.

According to to Doctor Kevin Baines,
Saturn rains tons of diamonds each year.
It would be fantastic to take some home …
as a special prize souvenir!

Saturn’s name came from Roman mythology;
Titan was named from the Greek.
Those wandering stars we now know as planets
like gods, never lose their mystique.


Beautiful Moon  by Moco
(Whitfield State School)

I am the beautiful moon.
Silent, silver, cold.
I’ll stop my orbiting soon
because I’m growing old.
My temperature in Celsius
is minus one-seventy-three.
For humans, that’s the deadliest.
Too hard to live on me!


Cane Toads  by Ruby
(Whitfield State School)

I came here in 1935
filled with excitement about my new life.
Dropped off in Gordonvale’s sugar-cane fields
to end all your cane beetle strife.

My tough warty skin oozes poison.
My webbed feet are quite unusual.
But at least being poisonous stops me
from being anyone’s juicy meal!

I quickly adapt to your weather.
Your cyclones don’t really bother me.
Instead I just find a new shelter
and relentlessly grow my family.

In numbers, we grew and we grew and grew.
Reaching the Northern Territory.
And before many scientists really knew,
we’re in W.A. – and not sorry!

All because of a silly mistake
which scientists wish they could reverse.
Let’s hope no one brings in a Mexican snake.
That could make things a whole lot worse!


Max Planck Quantum Mechanics  by Haywood Ho Hei
(Victoria Shanghai Academy, Hong Kong)

Thou, in the world of unseen men,
at a time of sunshine and feathered pen.
You, a bright lad, thought beyond what we saw,
for what didn’t exist – would leave all in awe.

When a miniscule item, thought to be at the limit,
there’s still something smaller, leaving no answer.
Days of researching: past all that inhibits
with possible leads to a cure for cancer.

From the width of a one-dimensional string
to the hottest possible Farenheit,
Max Plank discovered what no Earthling could see
and what was there to show the light.

He once thought that all this would be disapproved.
It was only a theory after all.
From what he thought lost, wrong as he’d been,
when about to drop it, others took up the ball.


Haywood has been fascinated by physics since he was very young and loves to dig deeper and deeper into the tiny quantum world, especially about how we can use these discoveries well.


Young Thomas Edison  by Sukarma Rani Thareja & Celia Berrell

Childhood illness and ear infections
left young Thomas hard of hearing.
His teacher thought he couldn’t learn
and three months later, sent him home!

Fidgety Thomas was prone to distractions
which didn’t help his early learning.
But once his mother had taught him to read,
Tom devoured books at greatest speed.

Did deafness assist his concentrations?
Did curiosity banish his fearing?
His science experiment on a train
started a fire – Tom’s in trouble again!

An entrepreneur of many inventions
the name of Edison kept appearing.
Batteries, cables, and household light
were just some of Edison’s dreams-come-right.


Saving the System












Saving the System
by Reinhold Mangundu

The system is life; this system provides.
Such system collapse is people’s demise.
So what are we doing with unthinking minds?
Can you feel, hear or see Earth’s desperate signs?

Bleached coral reefs; no fishing, no work.
Unemployed poverty mustn’t be shirked.
Less copper, less diamonds: they’re closing the mines.
Can you feel, hear or see Earth’s depleted signs?

Our Earth’s system needs us to save, not plunder
her life-giving riches in all their wonder.
So let’s save the system. Let’s roar out her worth!
And join in becoming Guardians of Earth.

Reinhold Mangundu is an environmental activist in Namibia and youth advocate.

Celia Berrell
PO Box 830
Hervey Bay QLD 4655

0408 069 192
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