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What's the Story February 2010


ISSN 11750189: Volume 9: Issue 1: February/March 2010

Welcome to the first electronic version of What’s the Story?

We hope you like the new look. Send us an email to let us know.

The Storylines Margaret Mahy Day is coming

The Margaret Mahy Day is Storylines’ day of celebration and review, with several of our awards announced, and our Annual report presented at our AGM. Saturday 27 March, from 9am. Takapuna Grammar School, 210 Lake Road Takapuna.
  • Be the first to know who has won Storylines awards.
  • Hear Storylines Margaret Mahy Award winner Barbara Larson deliver the Margaret Mahy Lecture.
  • Be the first to lay your hands on the latest Inside Story – the Storylines year book.
  • Mingle with other children’s literature fans. It’s a fabulous day out.
Find out more, and register for the day here.

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Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award shortlistStorylines_Tom_Fitzgibbon_Award.jpg

This year the judges were pleased with the increase in the number of entries for the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award. After careful consideration, they compiled a short list of three manuscripts. The winner will be announced as part of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day, and last year’s winner, Hollie Chips by Anna Gowan, will be launched.
  • “Super Finn’ by Leonie Agnew (Auckland)
  • “Worm Hole” by Raewyn Brockway (Wellington)
  • “Time Tunnel” by Julie Scott (Auckland)

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Storylines Joy Cowley Award shortlistStorylines_Joy_Cowley_Award_logo_1.jpg

The winner will be announced at the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day. Last year’s winner will be launched as part of the Storylines Festival. The shortlist is:
  • “One Loose Thread” by Sara Acton (Christchurch)
  • “The Importance of Green” by Leonie Agnew (Auckland)
  • “My Dad’s a Dragon Catcher” by Tanya Batt (Auckland)
  • “Rent a Friend” by Robyn Cooper (Wellington)
  • “Out of Bed, Fred” by Lucy Davey (Auckland)
  • “Chicken Sticky” by Belynda Smith (Auckland)
  • “The Jandal Scandal” by Stacey Tatton-Brown (Whitianga)

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Storylines Gavin Bishop Award shortlist

The shortlist for the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award was announced a couple of months ago. The winner will be announced at the Storylines Margaret Mahy Day.

The shortlist is:

  • Sara Acton (Christchurch)
  • Heather Arnold (Auckland)
  • Harriet Bailey (Wellington)
  • Stephanie Junovich (Christchurch)
  • Gary Venn (Hamilton)
  • Neroli Welliams (Christchurch)

You can see their artwork on the Random House website.

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The Joy Cowley Writing Workshop in AucklandJoy_Cowley_workshop_attendees_Auckland_1.jpg

What a fantastic weekend. Joy shared her experience, knowledge and great sense of fun with thirty participants.. We all came away with a better understanding of what is required to make the most of our words, and will now approach our manuscripts with a fresh eye and greater expertise. 

Several writers who are just starting on their journey said how good it was to have someone who is so respected in the industry share that she too had been unsure of herself at the beginning of her writing career. At the end of the weekend we all received 54 pages of notes. This coming from a master of her craft is a fantastic tool. Thank you, Joy, for giving so much of yourself.

~Diana Menefy.

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Vote for Storylines!Sovereign_Sunshine_logo.jpg

Storylines is one of six shortlisted charities with Sovereign Sunshine in March. Your vote counts! 

Anyone from across New Zealand can register on the site and vote for Storylines during March 2010.The number of votes will tally on the screen, and voting will close on Wednesday 31 March at midday. Sovereign will announce the winning charity on the website on Wednesday 31 March, along with the winner of their voter prize, which all voters go in the draw to win. They will also post a news story which will announce each charity's vote counts and proportions of the total vote / donations.

Register and vote here

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Storylines farewells a friend

Jo_Noble_1.JPGJo Noble, a lifelong advocate and promoter of books of children has died. Jo established Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop in Blockhouse Bay, later moving the shop to Balmoral with Judy Keestra. She also produced various magazines including Jabbering About Books, which became Well Read, and the annual New Zealand Children’s Books in Print. She edited anthologies including 100 New Zealand Poems for Children and 30 New Zealand Stories for Children, both were Storylines Notable Books. In 1993, Jo was awarded the CLA Award for Services to Children’s Literature (now the Storylines Betty Gilderale Award). In 2003 Jo became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature. Jo was a member of various Children’s Literature Association and Storylines committees over the years, including being the year book editor, and a member of the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award judging panel. Jo’s knowledge and expertise in children’s literature was extensive, and always available to us. We will miss you Jo. Jo's profile is available here.

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IBBY newsIBBY_logo_medium.JPG

The Hans Christian Andersen Award winners are due to be announced any day, followed by the IBBY stand at the Bolonga Book Fair.

The 32nd IBBY Congress will be held at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 8-12 September.

IBBY Haiti has been meeting to discuss their plan of action. Last year they organised an IBBY Children in Crisi project, following floods in Gonaives. Now they are identifying the camps they can work in. One of the undamaged printing presses is willing to reproduce some books to help in bibliotherapy sessions. IBBY will be sending funds to help in the re-printing, as well as training and support for staff. Banks are beginning to accept international payments. IBBY Haiti will be working with other organisations including UNICEF and the Catholic Relief Services.

Visit the IBBY site for more news.

The Arrival of Neil Gaiman, guest starring Kate De Goldi and Margo Lanagan

I just happened to be in Wellington for work, just in time to catch a few events at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, New Zealand Post Readers and Writers Week. On Friday, skillful time management allowed me time to see Once Upon a Time – Neil Gaiman and Margo Lanagan in conversation with Kate De Goldi.Neil_Gaiman_Signs_2.jpg

This was a wide-ranging talk – as could be expected by this ‘beaut brace’ (as described by Kate). Neil began by reading from chapter seven of The Graveyard Book – after commenting that flesh-coloured mikes screw the face up for the audience – ‘does he have a wart?’ Neil explained The Graveyard Book as like The Jungle Book, except Bod is raised by dead people in a graveyard, rather than animals in a jungle. Margo read from Tender Morsels, when Muddy Annie sent Collaby Dought through to a personal heaven – just not his.

There was a discussion about what makes a children’s book – or young adult book – and whether they knew the audience when they wrote. Neil’s opinion is that he knows whether it is exclusively for adults, only because it had stuff in it that would bore kids – stuff you have to have been knocking around the world a while to understand. For Margo, the reality that she was originally published as a young adult author did mean that she had made some concessions, knowing that she would probably continue to be published in the young adult market.

Neil told the story of the publication of Coraline – basically, it was published as a children’s book thanks to his agent’s daughter lying. His agent didn’t think it was a children’s book – because it is so terrifying. Neil asked her to read it to her daughters, both loved it. It was published. When the musical of Coraline came out, Neil was sitting beside the girls and thanked them. One admitted that she had been terrified, but wanted to know what happened, and so didn’t let on.

Both discussed the value of fantasy and science-fiction. For Margo, it’s like looking at stars – you have to look slightly to the side for clarity. So fantasy is the real world, slightly askew, but seen clearly. Kate described the use of animals, gods, etc, as a safety feature – that they put some distance between the reader and the character. Later in the talk, Margo said it was when you were writing action in the wing of a house that, structurally, couldn’t happen – and you leave it there – that’s when it tips over into fantasy.

Neil described the sort of kids’ books he saw as a reviewer in the 80s – ‘proper’ books. There had to be a boy, living in a tower block in London, whose big brother had trouble with heroin. The boy had to get in trouble with the law in chapter five, but only a little, and he would think about having sex (but not really have it). And there would be a noble teacher, who would explain the error of his ways and set him on the right path. At this point Kate said ‘I think I wrote some of those’.

Both admitted they were lucky and able to write what they wanted. And they were published and people liked their work. Oh, and they find their most ‘inspiring’ times in those instances – and places – when you can’t physically escape, or read a book, and so your mind goes somewhere else to escape. For Neil, this is times like fifth-grade performances. For Margo, long drives.

When asked by a member of the audience, Neil said that he must write something for boys – similar to Blueberry Girl – and a picture book that give dad’s a fair go.

On Saturday, after a trip to Pompeii (well, Te Papa), it was to The Opera House for The Arrival. I hadn’t had a chance to see it at the Auckland Festival last year, so grabbed the opportunity. Like the book (by Shaun Tan) and the experiences depicted, this live-action version was surreal, engaging, suitably confusing and emotional. It lived up to everything people had said.

Saturday night and it was the Town Hall Talk: Neil Gaiman, again with Kate De Goldi. Kate introduced Neil as the ‘Amadeus Mozart of post-modern fiction’. To wolf-whistles and cheers, Neil approached the lectern, said ‘hello’ and introduced his readings. This time he read three poems. One, ‘Locks’, has been published (in Fragile Things), one was written a month ago for an anthology of sea stories – scary and unsettling sea stories (hence the English seaside town setting). The third was written 10 days ago and this was its first performance in front of live human beings. 

  • On GK Chesterton. a result of Neil’s school library – endowed in 1912 and 1928 – hence his becoming an unwitting specialist in Edward literature at the age of 12. 
  • On commissioned stories: art needs boundaries. Art needs walls, needs boundaries to chafe at. Boundaries focus your head in a particular way. 
  • On Shakespeare: Shakespeare was writing for actors. He wrote that speech because the actor who last spoke needs a costume change, and it’s going to take four minutes. So, Shakespeare was filling in time.
  • On CS Lewis and Narnia: both Neil and Kate missed the Christian over-tones. But, on reading them aloud to his daughters, Neil realised that his love of Greek mythology came from Lewis, and his introduction to horror creatures. That Lewis put everything he loved in his books, and that Neil does the same.
  • On questions: they are short, interrogative, end in a question mark, and are capable of being answered.
  • On procrastinating: not only can Neil put off until tomorrow, he can put off until Thursday. He can also put off deciding whether or not to put something off until Thursday (at least, that’s what I think he said, the audience was in hysterics at this time).
  • His travelling book: re-reading Journey to the West – about a monk, who is a monkey, a pig and a dragon pretending to be a horse, travelling to India to bring the teaching of Buddha to China.
  • Advice to aspiring writers: Write. No, there’s no secret. But he feels as if the aspirants think he’s hiding something. Something like: slaughter a goat at midnight. If you hear three knocks on the door, ignore it. If you hear five, open the door. On the other side will be Stephen King, JK Rowling and myself in capes. But no, really, just write. Finish it. Get it published. Write more. There is nothing like seeing your words in print to realise how bad a writer you are.
  • On Dave McKean: they have worked together for 25-26 years. So, Neil sends him the words. And Dave sends him back the illustrators – and Neil thinks ‘I didn’t think it would look like that’. 
  • Favourite mythological creature: basilisk / cockatrice.
  • Favourite mythology: Norse gods. Partly because they’re so grumpy and so incredibly human.
  • Favourite myth: Loki’s flyting, when Loki gets drunk and insults the other gods. 
The evening ended with Neil reading from American Gods – a huge queue waiting for signing. And a chance encounter with Gerri Judkins in the queue. I hope Southwell School appreciate their signed copy of A Dangerous Alphabet – Neil likes children’s librarians, by the way.
~ Annie Coppell. Photo credit Christchurch City Libraries.

2010 AGM of the Waikato Children’s Literature Association

An informative and entertaining evening was held at Southwell School recently when members of the Waikato Children’s Literature Association met for their annual general meeting.
A shared meal was followed by the business side of the evening, when the committee members were all successful in re-election. Nicola Daly from the School of Education of University of Waikato also outlined a research project she is involved in, to identify a group of picture books that represent New Zealand's national identity and cultural diversity and could be used in the education of pre-service teachers.
Louise Clark then entertained us with a presentation from a small part of her recently completed doctoral thesis. The title of her presentation was Imperialism, Evangelisation and Antipodean Adventures: New Zealand Books for Children by Victorian Writers. In particular she presented her research from the earliest books which were written by people who had never left England’s shores! Many took the form of propaganda to encourage British folk to emigrate to help populate New Zealand, while “taming” the country and its populace, a task which they felt was their right. Her research showed that many of these books were almost identical in plot, with a common tactic having many a character being rescued from near drowning! Ignorance was shown by the authors as they had folk strolling through kauri forests in Canterbury or walking from Wellington to Auckland! The illustrations were also discussed: Maori were depicted as looking like anything from Mohicans to African slaves! Louise left us wanting more, as time constraints meant she could only touch on the era and the topic. Even she admitted that as her research had to be limited to books written about New Zealand before 1900 and published prior to 2008, there are many more titles she was unable to include. It is to be hoped she will be able to complete further study and that all of her research can be published, as it will form a valuable record for future generations of children’s literature aficionados.

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Award news

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Upcoming tours

We support bookshops and publishers who bring visiting international writers and illustrators to New Zealand. We also help advertise and support local writers, illustrators and performers who are touring the country.

  • Author Derek Landy is visiting out shores. Find out more on our author visit page.  
  • Perform are touring their new show – Jungle Bungle – celebrating the Storylines Festival 2010. Download a form to book them for your school now. 


Storylines members only!

Log on to our website using your existing membership number, or your newly reset password if you have already visited our new website, to view the latest booklist: Flights of fantasy and science fiction. This is only accessible to members. If you wish to become a member, join here.


Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki and Friends of Storylines Te Pou o Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki together form New Zealand’s only national organisation working year-round to promote New Zealand children’s and young adult literature through activities that include a major national Story Tour to schools, early childhood centres and communities, and awards for writers, illustrators and those who work in the area of New Zealand children’s literature



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