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
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.
I Am Not Esther is a New Zealand classic and Fleur Beale is one of New Zealand’s best authors for children and young adults. It has been in print for 14 years and is as popular today as it was when it was first printed. Random House New Zealand are celebrating Fleur’s amazing story by reissuing it with a great new cover. I asked Fleur if she would like to write a post for me about I Am Not Esther as part of NZ Book Month, so here are her thoughts.
I’ll always remember a phone call I got about a fortnight after the book was first published. The woman on the phone was so excited her words were tumbling over each other. She said I’d written her story and now at last she was able to say to friends and family, ‘Read this, and then you’ll understand.’
People are often surprised to hear that the original idea for the story came from a real incident where a sixteen year old boy was thrown out of home and declared dead simply because he refused to leave school in his final year.
Readers relate strongly to the situation of a person being forced to think, behave and live in a strictly prescribed manner. This isn’t the way we do things in today’s world, yet it is the situation many children are still brought up in.
In a way, Kirby is an orphan and I think stories about young people who are alone and have to battle against the world for their very survival speak to something primal within us.
March is the month that we celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators. It’s New Zealand Book Month – and I’ll have some special posts and competitions to celebrate our fantastic authors and illustrators. Stay tuned for:
- New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators answer my Fast Five questions. Find out how books have changed the lives of our best authors and illustrators.
- A special guest post from Fleur Beale to celebrate the re-issue of her NZ classic, I Am Not Esther.
To find out about other events that are happening around New Zealand to celebrate NZ Book Month check out their website – www.nzbookmonth.co.nz