Category Archives: NZ Book Month 2012

Fast Five with Amy Brown

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

My parents’ house has always had full bookshelves; there are piles of books next to each bed, and even beside the bath. The idea of being able and allowed to write the words in these important objects was thrilling. In Standard Two, I said that one day I wanted to write books for children. After school that day, I asked Mum what she thought I might be when I grew up. When she guessed that I would be a writer, I was delighted at her response. I still am.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

When I’ve been writing for quite a while – perhaps two hours non-stop – the words sometimes begin to come unexpectedly. The chapter unfolds almost as if I am reading rather than writing it myself. Rereading these pages later, I often forget having written parts of them.  This is an exciting feeling.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I won’t choose a favourite, because it is too difficult. But, I will say that Maurice Gee’s O Trilogy has stayed with me since I first read it nearly twenty years ago. I still have dreams (nightmares?) about Susan Ferris meeting the Birdfolk. I also vividly remember Jack Lasenby’s Harry Wakatipu stories. If you haven’t read them, Harry Wakatipu is a surly talking packhorse who lives with a deer culler in the Ureweras and gets into all sorts of mischief. Recently, I tried to tell a friend the story of when Harry starts illegally tickling trout, but had to stop because I was crying with laughter.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I love that, in New Zealand, you’re never too far from the sea. I also love that you can walk barefoot without worrying about snakes or spiders biting you (I currently live in Australia).

5. What book changed your life?

Because I read it so often, and then later used it as a model for my own books, Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson probably changed my life. Its sense of humour, weird 1950s references to Bing Crosby, and brilliant line drawings have no doubt contributed to who I am today. I admit that it isn’t the best book in the world, but it has been important to me.
Amy Brown is the author of the Pony Tales series, including the latest book, Jade’s Summer of Horses.

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Picture Book Nook: Seesaw Po by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Katz Cowley

Read me for NZ Book Month!

Kyle Mewburn has done it once again!  He’s created another clever and fun-filled picture book that children and adults alike will love, and it features a loveable hippo called Po.

Po and his friends love the playground.  “I want to swing!” said Uta.  “I want to slide!” said Madi.  “I want to spin!” said Raff.  “I want to do everything!” said Po.  They all rush off to the playground and have a go on everything.  Everyone, that is, except Po.  Poor Po is just too big to go on anything…until he gets to the seesaw.

Children absolutely love Seesaw Po!  I’ve read it numerous times to children from 2-7 years and they were all captivated by the story.  Older children know right from the start that Po is too big to go on the playground and they feel sorry for him, but they don’t see the surprise ending coming.  It’s a story that all children can relate to because they all love going to the playground and they all have their favourite thing they like to go on (for me it’s always been the swings).  Katz Cowley’s illustrations are as marvelous as always.  You can really see the joy on the faces of the characters as they whizz around on the roundabout and whoosh down the slide.  The favourite illustration of the children I read the book to was Po stuck on the slide and they liked to point out that Uta was trying to pull Po down the slide by his ears.  Book Design deserve a special mention for the wonderful design of the book.  I love how the words follow the characters down the slide and around the roundabout, while still making the text easy to read.   It’s also great to see Scholastic NZ publishing Te Reo versions of their New Zealand picture books, especially these younger picture books.  Seesaw Po is a great collaboration from two of our most talented authors and illustrators.

4 out of 5 stars

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Fast Five with Kyle Mewburn

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

I never really thought I “want to be a writer”. Mainly because I was always told being a writer wasn’t a “proper job”. Besides, I knew most writers never made much money, and for a long time I believed making money was very important. (Because that’s what nearly everybody said.) Writing has always been like a bloodhound on my trail. Over the years I tried all sorts of other jobs, trying to throw it off the scent, but I never quite managed it. In the end it caught up with me. Now I realise there are much more important things than making lots of money. Like doing something you love. Or bringing wild and crazy ideas to life.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Getting to hang out with other writers. They are such an entertaining bunch. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d probably have to become a stalker. Or a librarian.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I didn’t grow up in New Zealand, so I don’t have any all-time favourite New Zealand books. It kind of changes every year. At the moment my favourite books are Northwood by Brian Falkner (which is just such an original thrilling story) and Stomp! by Ruth Paul (because it’s delightfully simple and beautiful).

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I could say “that it’s next to Australia”. haha (I am, after all, originally from Brisbane.) Otherwise, I’d have to say its size. There’s so much variety packed into a small space. Two hours drive and I can be swimming in the ocean, skiing in the mountains or tramping in the wilderness. It’s unique and slightly magical. Though the flipside is you sometimes have to drive two hours to find like-minded people, too.

5. What book changed your life?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It’s deservedly a classic. My Year 7 teacher gave me his copy on the last day of school and I’ve read it every year since. If, like me, you love word games and puns, there’s no better book on the planet. It set me off on a life-long quest to write (or invent) the perfect pun. I haven’t done it yet, but boy I’ve had enormous fun trying!!

Kyle Mewburn is the award-winning author of Kiss, Kiss, Yuck, Yuck, Old Hu-hu, Hill and Hole and the hilarious and disgusting Dinosaur Rescue series.

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Fast Five with Gavin Bishop

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

So I could be in complete control of the picture books that I wanted to illustrate.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Besides working at home in my own studio I enjoy talking to children and adults about my work.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

“The Three Legged Cat” by Margaret Mahy

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

Feeling as if I belong here.

5. What book changed your life?

“The Hobbit” by J. R. Tolkein

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Fast Five with Sharon Holt

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer because I absolutely loved reading books and being in libraries. I wanted to help other children find the joy that I found between the pages of so many wonderful children’s books.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

There are many great things about being a writer, but the best thing for me is when children come up and say they love a story I wrote.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

My favourite NZ book is The Terrible Q by Tanya Batt.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

The thing I love most about New Zealand is how easy it is to get to the sea. I love the feeling of looking out over the ocean and imagining what’s on the other side.

5. What book changed your life?

The book that changed my life was a picture book that I was reading at bed time to my two toddlers. I don’t know what the story was but it was probably something by Lynley Dodd. While reading it to the children, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to be a children’s author! I was already 40 so I very quickly started writing stories and sending them to Learning Media. Before long I was a published author and I haven’t looked back since!

Sharon has been writing for 10 years and has had stories, poems, plays and articles published in the School Journal.  Her latest novels, Sabotage and No Survivors, are  in the New Zealand My Story series and tell the stories of two girls growing up in New Zealand at the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing and the Erebus crash.  Sharon has also written her own joke book called It’s True! You can make your own jokes, because her son kept trying to make up terrible jokes.

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Fast Five with Ruth Paul

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

Because, well … why not? As an illustrator, being a writer also gives me more control over the total story. Plus I  have only myself to let down if I don’t illustrate the story well enough. Doing both gives me the chance to create a more unified picture book. 

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Having fun with language. Having fun, full stop. Oh, and getting emails from kids and parents who’ve read my books.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Little Rabbit and the Sea by Gavin Bishop.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

The space, the climate, the small population, and all the opportunity we have to create a good society and environment to live in.

5. What book changed your life?

Not a book, but stories my father told me as a child that involved all the animals in our street in an imaginary fairyland. They were funny and wicked and naughty and special. They always involved dog poo (there was a lot of that in our street). It made me love the idea of sharing stories.

Ruth Paul is both an author and an illustrator.  Some of her books include Stomp, Two Little Pirates, The King’s Bubbles and The Animal Undie Ball.

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Fast Five with Brian Falkner

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

Don’t know. Just always did. Maybe because I was a keen reader as a child.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Visiting schools and literary festivals and meeting your audience. Without that, it would be quite a solitary vocation.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Aarrgh! Don’t make me choose. Too many brilliant books to choose from.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

The people. The climate. Rangitoto. The beaches. Lots of other things. I miss NZ!

5. What book changed your life?

Any one of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. These were a revelation for me. It was fabulously exciting (with lashings of fun) to find a new Enid Blyton book was in the library when I was young. I am sure that these books are part of the reason that I became a writer.

Brian Falkner is the author of The Tomorrow Code, The Real Thing, Brainjack, Northwood, and his latest book, Team Recon Angel: Assault.  Visit his website - http://www.brianfalkner.com/

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