‘Crazy’ kids book of­fers a pe­cu­liar New Zealand vi­sion

Meet the cre­ators of an an­ar­chic an­thol­ogy for young Ki­wis. By Jack van Bey­nen .

Sunday News - - NEWS -

‘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.

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