‘Crazy’ kids book offers a peculiar New Zealand vision
Meet the creators of an anarchic anthology for young Kiwis. By Jack van Beynen .
‘SOMETIMES it feels like it was made in crazy town – but in a good way!’’
That’s what 9-year-old Daniel Lovewell had to say about Annual, a children’s book edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris.
Lovewell’s quote is on the back of the book’s sequel, Annual 2, and it became a kind of mantra for the editors.
‘‘Every now and again when we wondered if something was going too far, we’d look at that and go, ‘Nah,’’’ De Goldi says.
The pair had the idea for the annual series around three years ago when remember the annuals they got at Christmas as children – and their latest creation certainly packs in a crazy amount, including short fiction, non-fiction, an illustrated guide to the biscuits and slices of New Zealand, poetry, recipes, a song by Bic Runga, comics – even a board game where players navigate the pitfalls of divorce from a child’s perspective, and instructions for making a knitted model of the digestive system.
The two women are perhaps uniquely qualified to do this kind of thing. Paris has been editor of School Journal for more than a decade, while De Goldi is a celebrated author who promotes literacy and teaches writing in schools around the country. They’re also good mates.
The project aimed to fill several holes they had observed in New Zealand’s literary landscape.
Its targeted age group of 9-13, according to Paris, draws the short straw when it comes to publishing, while De Goldi says the book also provides Kiwi writers with a chance to get published.
In Annual 2, the editors went for a mix of contributors including poet Bill Manhire (a one-sided conversation between a dentist and his patient) and novelist Lloyd Jones (an essay on how to body surf). Giselle Clarkson, who contributed an illustrated guide to classic Kiwi baked goods, is best known in commercial circles.
Part of the format’s attraction for Paris and De Goldi is that it’s accessible for reluctant readers; they might be seduced by an illustration, game or recipe, and from there flick on to a more traditional piece of prose. ‘‘The reading kind of sneaks up on them,’’ Paris says.
‘‘As a reading experience, an annual isn’t intimidating for a reluctant or anxious reader. There’s so many different sizes of text and there’s visuals, and you don’t have to complete the whole thing, it’s something you can dip in and out of. It doesn’t feel like an onerous reading experience,’’ De Goldi says. is available in bookstores, or online from Potton & Burton’s web site.
Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris have put together a very Kiwi, very crazy book for kids.