Quiz: first lines of classic Kiwi kids’ novels

How well do you know classic New Zealand children’s novels? Do you think you could recognise them from their first sentences? Have a go! Answers are at the bottom of the page.

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1. ‘When, suddenly, on an ordinary Wednesday, it seemed to Barney that the world tilted and ran down-hill in all directions, he knew he was about to be haunted again.’

A. The World Around the Corner by Maurice Gee

B. The Haunting by Margaret Mahy

C. The Wednesday Wizard by Sherryl Jordan

D. From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

2. ‘Anax moved down the long corridor.’

A. Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

B. The Blue Lawn by William Taylor

C. The Fire Raiser by Maurice Gee

D. Genesis by Bernard Beckett

3. ‘On the afternoon of the first day Osro and his ten companions travelled without concealment on the cart road leading west.’

A. Motherstone by Maurice Gee

B. Rocco by Sheryl Jordan

C. The Crossing by Mandy Hager

D. Voyage with Jason by Ken Catran

4. ‘On a late winter night, the Isle of the Temple lay quiet, streets empty and shimmering.’

A. I am not Esther by Fleur Beale

B. Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox

C. Frog Whistle Mine by Des Hunt

D. Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale

5. ‘Although the label on the hair shampoo said Paris and had a picture of a beautiful girl with the Eiffel Tower behind her bare shoulder, it was forced to tell the truth in tiny print under the picture.’

A. The Lake by Jack Lasenby

B. Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock

C. The Changeover by Margaret Mahy

D. Sanctuary by Kate De Goldi

6. ‘Snake and Lizard came to know each other through an argument, the first of many.’

A. Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley

B. Chicken Feathers by Joy Cowley

C. Dunger by Joy Cowley

D. Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley

7. ‘”Lillian! Lill–i–an!” called Mrs Perham into the darkness.’

A. See Ya, Simon by David Hill

B. Thieves by Ella West

C. Night Race to Kawau by Tessa Duder

D. A Canoe in the Mist by Elsie Locke

8. ‘In the old days, in the years that have gone before us, the land and sea felt a great emptiness, a yearning.’

A. The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else

B. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

C. The Silent One by Joy Cowley

D. Cry of the Taniwha by Des Hunt

9. ‘Tuesday the fourteenth of February began badly for Frankie Parsons.’

A. Juggling with Mandarins by V. M. Jones

B. Tripswitch by Gaelyn Gordon

C. The 10pm Question by Kate De Goldi

D. Uncle Trev by Jack Lasenby

10. ‘I have always known that in another life I was – or will be – a dolphin.’

A. The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

B. Red Rocks by Rachael King

C. Alex by Tessa Duder

D. Singing Home the Whale by Mandy Hager


1. B

2. D

3. A

4. B

5. C

6. D

7. D

8. B

9. C

10. C