How to make a gift for a Prince

When we heard that the Royal Visit to New Zealand was timed for April, we saw the perfect opportunity to gift 9-month-old Prince George with the wonderful Picture Book finalists selected in this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The idea quickly expanded to annually gifting the young Prince and his family the finalists that most suit his age until he reaches the age of 18. By the time Prince George grows up, the Cambridge family will have a superb collection of New Zealand literature, all personally inscribed.
Prince George Book Wrapping_1_square
So how do you make a gift for a Prince? When you work in an industry where everyone loves what they do, it’s no trouble at all to put together something really special.

The first thing to do was to get the publishers and authors on board. We approached the finalist publishers Scholastic NZ, Penguin, Gecko Press and Page Break to see if the authors and illustrators would like to write a personal message to Prince George on their finalist books. The result was some wonderful and creative messages including an illustrated bear from Donovan Bixley and a personalised poem called ‘Prince George’ by Catherine Foreman. She even made a gorgeous wee origami-styled envelope for the poem.

Prince George Book Wrapping_Boats envelope for P George
We spoke to our friends at Clemenger BBDO design agency based here in Wellington, and they were as excited as we were about getting creative with the new Awards logo and Prince George Book Wrapping_Front cover of carddesign to create some colourful wrapping paper and a personalised card. They presented
us with 5 fabulously fun colours of wrapping paper, one to carefully wrap each precious book in, and a personalised card with George on the front.

Clemenger BBDO donated their time free of charge and worked with Service Printers to create the best looking wrapping paper and card you could hope to see and we thank them both for their time and contribution.

We sent the card (with a second copy in case of mistakes) to our Board Chair, Random House Publishing Manager Nicola Legat, where she put pen to paper and addressed the card and present to Prince George. With the card back in hand, our PR Advisor Adrienne Olsen put her gift wrapping skills to good use and carefully wrapped each book.

Prince George Book Wrapping_3Little did we know this idea of ours was going to result in international media coverage, with our gift of picture books featuring in any number of Royal Visit articles across the world, as well as in New Zealand. Back here at home, the picture book finalists flew off the shelves as book store staff catered to people coming in store ‘wanting to buy the books that Prince George received’.

The books gifted to Prince George included: Machines and Me: Boats, by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic NZ), The Boring Book, by Vasanti Unka (Penguin), The Three Bears…Sort of, by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley (Scholastic), Toucan Can, by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis (Gecko Press), and Watch Out, Snail! By Gay Hay and Margaret Tolland (Page Break Ltd).

Prince George Book Wrapping_2

by Amie Lightbourne, Awards Manager
Photographs by Adrienne Olsen, Awards Publicist

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Finalist interviews: The origin of Boats, by Catherine Foreman

If you have ever wondered where authorscv_boats get their ideas, this is your chance to find out. We have asked our fantastic finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults all about their work, and they have been very generous in their responses!

Machines and Me: Boats is a finalist in the picture book category of the awards.

Thank you to author/illustrator Catherine Foreman for her responses:

1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
When my oldest son was two, like a lot of toddlers, he was obsessed with planes, (helped by the fact that we lived in a very noisy flight path!). This led me to write Planes, which I submitted to Scholastic.

Years later, they suggested resurrecting the manuscript and we thought it would be a great opportunity to do a series, for all those plane, train, boat and tractor loving pre-schoolers out there.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
It was actually all pretty smooth sailing! (Pun intended.) When it was determined I would also be adding Boats, Trains and Tractors to the existing Planes, I knew I’d have to now come up with three extra manuscripts that would all follow the same format for the series, but could also stand alone as a good read. I locked myself away in a room for a day to write the other manuscripts, and they all came relatively easily. With Boats it really helped that I by then had another toddler who was obsessed with boats!

3. Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?
Aside from the fact that I don’t think there’s any upper age limit on picture books, I believe Boats is a great preschool book. When I received my own advance copies, my youngest was 18 months old and he wouldn’t let me stop reading them! I’ve had a lot of feedback from parents saying the same sort of thing, which from my point of view is probably the best bit of the whole process.

4. Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
I have lots of books that inspire me, but for this series in particular I was inspired by Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins. We’d been reading it at the time I wrote Planes. It is a big celebration of fish, and it’s this celebration of a topic, with lovely rhymes, lots of pictures and a simple nicely resolved ending, that I wanted to achieve with Planes, and subsequently Boats, Trains and Tractors.

5. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
Last year I couldn’t believe my luck when I found about a dozen Trixie Belden novels in The Piggery Bookshop in Whangarei. I took them home to read and was instantly teleported back through time to when I was maybe ten or eleven, reading on my bed after school with a pile of Mum’s biscuits whilst I solved crimes with Trixie, Honey and the other Bob-Whites! So while I’ve enjoyed many a book in all sorts of relaxing places, my favourite book-reading days were when I was a lot younger and I could lie in the sun all afternoon and read.

6. What are your favourite things to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Hanging out with my family. And though I’m not much of a gardener, I love being outside in the garden, pulling out weeds where I’m told to, pushing a wheelbarrow around, picking up (and eating) fruit or feeding the chickens. Boring, but true!

– Catherine Foreman’s website has more information about herself and her work. 


Book Review: Boats, and Trains, by Catherine Foreman

These books are available in bookstores.

These two books are a continuations of the ‘Machines and Me’ series released by Scholastic NZ in mid-2013, reviewed here.  Each of the books has an explanation of different types of machines and what they do, with a simple message about using your imagination at the end.

cv_boatsBoats has some great illustrations, particularly that of riverboat and the hulls of different boats. It introduces different types of boats and their parts to youngsters, and widens their minds as to what constitutes a boat. My 3yo particularly liked the idea of whale-watching in boats, and I love the illustration on this page, showing the whales cheekily hiding directly underneath the boat. It is missing one favourite boat however – a submarine.

While Boats relies largely on the diversity ofcv_trains types of boats, Trains has to get a bit more creative, as there isn’t the simplicity with train types that exist with boats. The explanations are limited to steam trains and electric trains, mini trains and underground trains – also fair and zoo trains. This widening is good, as Foreman has added counting games and colour games within the story as well, adding further depth to the toddler-focussed series.

Overall, this is a well-designed and written series which will find a market wherever it is picked up. There can never be too many books about modes of transport, or indeed, machines.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

by Catherine Foreman
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431596

by Catherine Foreman
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431626