'From where I sleep I can see the book on my bookshelf. I have read it so many times it has fallen apart, and now exists as an inelegant bundle of browning pages and brittle Sellotape.' All her life, actor and writer Michelle Langstone has felt the influence of the 1959 novel My Side of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George, and here she explains why. Michelle and her copy of the book By the time I was 10 years old, I had run away three times. All three times I attempted to r
Author Swapna Haddow has recently moved to Christchurch from her home in the UK. Her Dave Pigeon books are absolutely hilarious, so we asked her to tell us a bit about the funny books of her childhood. From Sweet Valley, to Roald Dahl, to Sue Townsend's incredible Adrian Mole books, it is a trip down memory lane. Swapna Haddow I started this piece thinking I was going to get on my soapbox and shout about how funny books aren’t taken seriously, how they fail to get recognition
'I’m a kindred spirit to Anne of Green Gables’ Anne Shirley. When I feel like crying, you see it in my cheeks, in the flicker in my eyes, and sometimes you see it in my bottom lip.' Kura Rutherford writes about children's literature’s reflection of our ideas about crying, and suggests it could be a place of both social change and solace. Do you remember the first time a character cried in a book you were reading? Mine is a story my mum used to read us, Greyling by Jane Yolen.
What fictional death have you never got over? That's the question asked of our editor Jane Arthur by poet Chris Tse, guest curator of the 'In Memoriam' event at last weekend's LitCrawl in Wellington, a literary festival with a difference. Jane chose Charlotte from E.B. White's enduring classic, Charlotte's Web, and wrote this poem for her. O arachnid O literate departed Carlotta, Lottie, Charlie Charlotte A. Cavatica O Charlotte and your wordy web O you, barn spider, who were
Claire Murdoch is the recently appointed Publishing Manager of Penguin Random House New Zealand. We asked her to share some formative books from her childhood, and she handed us a stunning essay on reading, friendship, imagination, and growing up in Aotearoa (mostly). I didn’t think this was going to be about my best friend, Sarah, and our life in books (i.e. our life in general). It was meant to be about Dad reading us Tintins before bed, doing all the voices, in his blister
'Throughout my life I have turned to the page as a soft place to fall and a wise place to rise.' For Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2018, poet and children's book author Courtney Sina Meredith shares her personal discovery of how powerful words can be in expressing your identity, no matter your age. I have a clear memory of writing a poem at primary school about a group of magical princesses. They each had their own unicorn (of course) and in the final stanza, becau
Multi-accoladed poet and founder of the creative writing programme at Victoria University of Wellington, Bill Manhire relives the magic of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree, in this essay adapted from a talk given at the 2017 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival. Before I could read, the stories that mattered most were tales from the Brothers Grimm as told to me by my mother, and the Oscar Wilde fable, The Happy Prince, as read by Orson Welles on the record that adults played on a b
Kura Rutherford ruminates on how powerfully children's books can evoke geographies both unknown and familiar, from Beatrix Potter’s Lake District to the isolation of Mangere Island. Sometimes a walk around a lake means walking into a book. When my family and I visited the Lake District we were in a hurry. We didn’t think we had time to visit Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, but on a whim we decided to pop in. When we got there though, we panicked at the sight of a carpark over
Kate Duignan recalls two influential books from her childhood, Heidi and The Diddakoi, in this stunning personal essay about the importance of a child's sense of home. Kate's new novel for adults, The New Ships, is out now from Victoria University Press. Novelist Anna Smaill has called it 'a gripping novel about lost children and a very fine portrait of family life in all its beauty and betrayal. Intricate, compelling, and deeply moving.' Kate Duignan as a child I think of my
Emma Neale is a Dunedin-based poet, novelist, and recently appointed editor of the esteemed New Zealand literary journal, Landfall, which has been running for over 70 years. She tells us, hilariously and poignantly, about the books her two sons are reading and answers an important question: 'How would you fry a car?'. What does 'story time' look like at your house? Story time happens wherever you can fit a boy, a parent and a book. Although our youngest reads to himself often
Maurice Gee's O Trilogy is one of the most enduringly excellent works of Aotearoa literature. Megan Dunn recalls its power. In the South Island, at the back of an old mineshaft is the entrance to the planet O. There are two ways to get there. You can be forced by a coil of venomous yellow smoke like Susan Ferris. Or if you are lucky, you can get there by ‘Shy’, a small silver plant, a dozen blue flowers just visible in its leaves. It only grows on O. The Woodlanders know wher
Books aren't the only place to find stories. Some of the most important and meaningful stories are passed down through generations, strengthening our connections to land, whānau, whakapapa. Kura Rutherford shares what family storytelling means to her. I first experienced the ability of family storytelling to heal and transform at my nana’s tangi, at Te Kia Ora marae in Kaipara. I was ten years old; it was one of the first times my siblings and I had spent a night on a marae.
Ahead of his appearance at the Auckland Writers Festival, novelist (for adults) Rajorshi Chakraborti tells us about the books his daughter is reading, and his aspirations to write a book for her one day. Rajorshi's daughter Leela reading on the couch A big challenge is looming for me. ‘Looming’ isn’t the right word because I’m kind of looking forward to it. The challenge is to write a book for our six-year- old daughter Leela. You see, her persistent complaint against her wri
It’s the writing fellowship with the really long name – the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence. But more importantly, it’s the only children’s fellowship in the country and applications for 2019 close on Friday, 1 June. The Robert Lord Cottage on Titan Street where children’s fellows can stay Ruth Corrin was the first fellow in 1992 when it was run by the Dunedin College of Education and since then the list reads like
Writer, comedian and author of a new collection of true love stories, How We Met, Michele A’Court tells us about the books she reads to her granddaughter, and the tricks she uses at story time. Reading Peepo to Ariana when she was a baby As much as I am encouraging it, it is going to be a terrible day for me when my four-year-old granddaughter learns to read. That’s the day she is going to find out that I am a big fat liar. It’s like this. When Ariana was born in November 201