Unfortunately I’m not of a generation that grew up with annuals. I didn’t experience the joy of these volumes, chock-full of activities, stories and quizzes. Thankfully the wonderful Gecko Press have brought back this format with their gorgeous new book, Annual, that a new generation of kids will love.
Editors Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris have mined the talented authors and illustrators we have here in NZ and gathered these gems into a truly radiant collection. There are stories, short essays, comics, a song, crafts, activities and a hilarious board game. There are well-known authors and illustrators, such as Barbara Else, Bernard Beckett and Gavin Bishop, but also some incredibly talented debut authors such as Gavin Mouldey, whose story B.O.N.E. is an absolute wonder.
Annual arrived on my doorstep on the morning that I was going away for a school holiday break with my family, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! There is hours of entertainment in this book and there is something for the whole family. I especially enjoyed Kirsten McDougall’s A Box of Birds, a collection of odd words to take on a road trip. I was thinking about some of these words as I was driving and I thoroughly confused my family when I yelled out ‘Tally ho, the salt!’ (a phrase to use when you first catch sight of the ocean). We all enjoyed a ‘pootle’ (a wander along the beach with no destination in mind) and with 12-year-old boys in the car there were more than a few winkybubbles (you’ll have to look that one up yourself).
There are so many things that I love about Annual. Being a Gecko Press book the standard of production is excellent, from the eye-catching red hardcover to the smell of the high-quality paper. The variety of pieces in the book is brilliant, with something for every type of kid (and adult for that matter). There are pieces to make you think, pieces to challenge you, pieces to make you laugh and pieces to unleash your creativity. One of my favourite pieces is the comic strip Bad Luck Zebra by Sharon Murdoch and Susan Paris, which cracked me up every time I read it. Kate De Goldi, Susan Paris and Gecko Press deserve a standing ovation for this gorgeous book.
You will want to come back to Annual again and again to revisit your favourite bits and uncover some new delight that you might have missed last time. Get a copy of Annual for everyone on your Christmas list.