The Sapling celebrates our first birthday

The Sapling launched exactly one year ago today. Happy first birthday to us!

From founding editors Jane Arthur and Sarah Forster, and editor Thalia Kehoe Rowden: thanks to Helena Loy for helping load many of the pieces, Tabitha of LightShade Creative for designing the logo and website, funders Creative New Zealand and Copyright Licensing NZ, and our Boosted supporters. And thanks to you for reading!

Here’s a personal selection by the editors of some of our favourite pieces so far. We’ve published over 250 pieces so far, so it was incredibly hard to keep it to just five each. We can’t wait to share more interviews, opinions, reviews and news with you over the next year and beyond.

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Jane’s Favourite Five:

Meeting Macgyver: a chat with Jack Lasenby by Ashleigh Young

I had illusions of giving (multi award-winning essayist, poet and editor) Ashleigh Young some sort of editorial assistance when I asked her to interview the splendid children’s writer Jack Lasenby. Haha. What a perfect writer she is – they both are: effortless and compulsively readable. I’ve read this so many times, and if you haven’t yet, DO!

The Giselle Clarkson comic: number 4

It was hard to pick just one of Giselle Clarkson’s comics, but this one about The Tiger Who Came to Tea won because it still makes me laugh. Getting to be involved in the process of these monthly comics is like helping create a mini picture book each month (though, realistically, I don’t have to contribute much as Giselle is so clever and assured, but I can pretend I’m helping…). I’m so pleased to hear she’s releasing a book this year – props to Allen and Unwin NZ for getting her first.

Book Awards: the Young Adult finalists

I love learning about the process behind the book, be it from authors, illustrators or publishers. I especially enjoyed how passionate these publishers were about the books they helped create – proving that publishers really do care about their books, and a nice change from slick marketing blurbs.

Victor Rodger & the dark humour of Struwwelpeter

One of our kaupapa is ‘To entice new and unlikely readers of all ages, and challenge them to view children’s books as worthy of attention’ – and one way we’re achieving this is by getting people outside the kids’ book world to remember their childhood books. This essay by playwright Victor Rodger is cheeky, illuminating and well-argued – and includes the best author photo on the site so far. (Check out this other wonderful essay about childhood reading by Nina Powles, too.)

Book Awards: Te Kura Pounamu finalists, by Kristin Smith

I’m really proud of the reviews we publish, because they are honest, considered and more than simple plot summaries. I’m also proud of the fact we cover books in other ways, too, like interviews, feature articles, personal essays and opinion pieces. These reviews of the 2017 Book Awards te reo Māori finalists (Te Kura Pounamu) manage to combine the best of all these – they’re useful, personal, educational, and reviews. Matariki Williams’ reviews about NZ history books hit the same high note. Who’d have thought book reviews could give me goosebumps!

Editors Sarah (left) and Jane (right), as depicted by Giselle Clarkson

Sarah’s Favourite Five:

In the stacks: a love letter to public libraries, by Kate De Goldi

This continues to stand as one of my favourite pieces. Not only was it written beautifully by one of my favourite NZ authors, it truly celebrated the joy of libraries for the young and old. While we link our lists to bookshops, we equally want people to consider their public library as a first source for books – something John McIntyre would always note to the new mums that went to his preschool fundraising evenings.

Gavin Bishop’s voyages of discovery, by Donovan Bixley

I’m not sure which I like better – Gavin Bishop interviewing David Elliot, or Donovan Bixley interviewing Gavin Bishop. Donovan elicits Gavin’s personality perfectly in this, while asking excellent questions about method and the madness of deadlines. I just love matching illustrators and writers for articles. This type of perfect pairing is something I pride myself on and we’ve become known for, with co-interviews between Stacy Gregg and Kelly Wilson, Juliet Jacka and Sally Sutton, Ella West and Eileen Merriman, and many more to come!

School librarians of Aotearoa: Adrienne Browne

The inspiration for this monthly series was my past work for NZ Book Council with the librarians that hosted writers through Writers in Schools. Adrienne was special for her work at Te Wharekura o Ruatoki. School librarians are important and passionate proselytisers of reading, and if it weren’t for their hard work, there would be far fewer passionate readers in New Zealand.

Across the ditch: Zana Fraillon, observer of the unseen

Zana Fraillon’s work, The Bone Sparrow and The Ones that Disappeared, challenge the political status quo in Australia. Both books made me think about the world in a new way, and I was very excited when she agreed to an interview with me. I was very happy with her responses to my prepared questions, and the piece turned out exactly as I had hoped – very satisfying!

The magic of translation, by Nadine Millar

This article about the magic and importance of translation ran at the front end of te Wiki o te reo Māori and is characterised by a fantastic interview of Brian Morris from Huia Publishers who leads the team at the forefront of te reo translation.

Editor Thalia, by Giselle Clarkson

Thalia’s Favourite Five:

Bear hunts and other adventures: a family reading, by Nick Bollinger

There are two kinds of people: those who cry at the beginning of Nick Bollinger’s tale of reading to children, as he describes the book he brought to the hospital for his premature babies, and those who cry at the end, as he comes to terms with the fact that his daughters can now read to themselves and each other. (Or maybe three kinds, if you sniff a little throughout?)

The reckoning: disturbing reading, by Sisilia Eteuati

Books grow humans. Books matter. I’ve lost track of how many times I have reread Sisilia Eteuati’s essay on the place of disturbing reading in her children’s lives, as they navigate life in a racist world.

The reckoning: appropriation V authenticity, by Zak Waipara

I met Zak Waipara, whose supercool illustration of Māui: Sun Catcher I was already a fan of, at the Storylines Hui 2017. He was so wise and thoughtful, even just over cups of tea in the breaks, that I immediately asked him to consider writing for us. His knockout piece on cultural appropriation is one of our most read and shared pieces ever, and lays out a roadmap for all writers and creators.

Twenty years on: Dare Truth or Promise, by Gem Wilder

What books from your teenage reading have stayed with you? Dare Truth or Promise is a top pick for lots of people, especially anyone feeling alone in their sexuality. I loved reading Gem Wilder’s story of seeking it out partly to spite her school principal’s ban.

A day in the life of a picture book writer, by Juliette MacIver

It was my love and admiration for Juliette MacIver that first brought me to read The Sapling, almost a year ago. In the first Day in the Life feature, the ebullient author of Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam and 2017’s prize-winning That’s Not a Hippopotamus! introduces us to a life of yoga, writing, motherhood and tea-sets.

And the Top Ten most-read Articles …

1. Farewell, dear John

2. Jacinda Ardern: the books of my childhood

3. The reckoning: appropriation v authenticity, by Zak Waipara

4. Emily Writes and the books her kids are reading

5. Book list: families come in different shapes

6. Guyon Espiner: the books I read with my child

7. The Giselle Clarkson comic: number 4

8. The Giselle Clarkson comic: number 3

9. How stories can help children with anxiety, by Amy Wilson-Hughes

10. Te reo Māori in schools: 10 things you can do, by Nadine Millar