Don­key­ma­nia takes hold of kids

Taranaki Daily News - - News - TARA SHASKEY

Mark­ing the end of the school hol­i­days, more than 200 young­sters and their par­ents went honky-tonky for a Wonky Don­key.

Yes­ter­day, mu­si­cian, en­ter­tainer and chil­dren’s book au­thor Craig Smith per­formed a num­ber of his hits to a sell­out crowd at New Ply­mouth’s Rum­pus Room.

One young­ster said she was ‘‘so ex­cited’’ to sing along to the pop­u­lar song she had been croon­ing for years.

‘‘I’ve got the don­key book at my house and I’ve had it for a very long time,’’ sixyear-old Alice May­cock said.

Smith is best known for his pic­ture book The Wonky Don­key, the pop­u­lar story about a three-legged don­key.

The tongue twist­ing tale was turned into a song which picked up APRA chil­dren’s song of the year in 2008 and has gar­nered more than three million hits on YouTube, while the book has sold more than 700,000 copies.

The Queen­stown man is cur­rently tour­ing his lat­est book, The Scari­est Thing in the Gar­den, and has stopped off in Taranaki to play a num­ber of school shows next week. Event or­gan­iser Anand Rose, a friend of Smith’s, said he had set up the chil­dren’s gig un­der pres­sure from his two lit­tle girls.

‘‘Craig is a mu­si­cian in his own right,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I first met him when I put to­gether a ben­e­fit con­cert at the Bowl af­ter the Christchurch earth­quake.’’

Smith had since played Singer Song­writ­ers New Ply­mouth where Rose in­tro­duced him to his now part­ner.

The cou­ple have re­cently had a baby girl.

‘‘He’s got a strong con­nec­tion to Taranaki.’’

Fol­low­ing the show, Smith spent time with his tiny fans sign­ing tee-shirts and books, and tak­ing photos.

Smith said he was ‘‘hugely sur­prised’’ by the lin­ger­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the The Wonky Don­key book.

‘‘It sur­prised ev­ery­one when it first got pop­u­lar,’’ he said. ‘‘Now we’ve just launched it in Asia and be­cause they are learn­ing English, with the CD com­po­nen­try they can lis­ten to the book with­out the teacher be­ing there.’’

Smith be­lieved its suc­cess was due to it tap­ping in to the three dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles.

‘‘With the mu­sic it’s oral, it’s kines­thetic with the mov­ing and it’s vis­ual with the read­ing and the pic­tures.

‘‘Kids learn in those main three ways and the book crosses all of those bases.’’

PHOTOS: GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

The Wonky Don­key cre­ator Craig Smith en­ter­tained chil­dren at Rum­pus Room in New Ply­mouth on Fri­day.

Eli Bed­ford and Mum Rachel Bed­ford meet with chil­dren’s au­thor Craig Smith.

Ava Ack­er­man, 3, was ex­cited to have her book per­son­ally signed by Craig Smith.

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