Tim Gruar in conversation with Kate De Goldi about ‘The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle’

Kate De Goldi’s novels and picture books really engage you. A winner of numerous awards, including the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards and the Esther Glen Medal, her books have a specific type of sophistication that respects and challenges her readers. Inspired by her own veracious reading appetite when growing up and a love of the new wave of post war children’s fiction, she builds her novels with cinematic layers that are as much about the set and scenery as they are about the plot.

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Kate De Goldi signing after her launch at Unity Books. Photo copyright Matt Bialostocki.

cv_from_the_cutting_room_of_kate_de_goldiAs with her previous award winning novel, The 10pm Question, there’s a degree of line-blurring when it comes to defining her target age for her latest book, From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle. So I have to ask, “Is this book for young adults? Or is this a book that can be read and enjoyed by young and old alike, like the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime?”  Kate: “Good question. I’d like to say it’s a book that can be read by anyone from 9 – 90, because I think there are some reasonably sophisticated language and ideas at play.”

One of the things that De Goldi says inspired her most recent writing, was the post-war ‘middle range fiction’ that really ‘nourished her insatiable appetite’ as a teenage reader. She says that nowadays the publishing world has been keener to produce age appropriate works, particularly in the young adult space. She wanted to create a book that was less age prescriptive.

In her latest book, From The Cutting Room Of Barney Kettle, we meet filmmaker Barney Kettle, who likes to invent stories, but in this case finds the real oil right under his nose. The book opens with a letter written from a hospital bed by an unnamed man, as he recovers from serious injuries. He introduces his project: a story about Barney Kettle which he writes over many months, as he slowly recovers. He writes to remember the street where he lived, home to a whole raft of strange, weird and interesting people and bizarre, singular shops and curious stories. He writes to remember the last few summer days. Before he was injured; before it all came crashing down; before his world vanished.

“Every filmmaker is a megalomaniac” – the perfect summary of many of the most famous directors – from Fellini to Spielberg to Jackson, all crazy obsessed nutters and brilliant visionaries. Then there’s Barney. “The character of Barney was inspired by my nephew Rowan, who has been making films since he was about 6 years old, corralling his relatives and his whole neighbourhood into whatever project he was up to at the time. His devotion was such that on the day of the first Christchurch earthquake, the day of his first job at a production house, his first instinct wasn’t to dive for cover but to grab the camera and start filming. Which he did. All day! He’s now an animator. Barney is Rowan, but he’s also a bit of me too – as my sisters will attest. He’s someone who’s utterly focused on making something and seeing it all the way through to the end.”

Barbara Larson, helping to launch Kate's book. Photo copyright Matt Bialostocki.

Barbara Larson, Kate’s editor and expert chopper – helping to launch Kate’s book. Photo copyright Matt Bialostocki.

Much of the book revolves around the idea of editing, chopping up, re-arranging, the pieces, all exacerbated by the unexpected but significant event that threatens to take over the story. It’s not hard to find direct links and references to post-2011 Canterbury. Because she grew up there, Christchurch was always destined to be a major character in the book. She actually started writing about Barney and the High Street before the earthquakes but had to stop, “because the coordinates changed. I came back to the High Street that was destroyed. But I couldn’t not include the event, it was a major part of my landscape.”

“I wanted to capture a High Street that was a lively, colourful fantastic place, with layers of history and with its own community. I always wanted to write about children at play in a community is a street like this, the kind that you only get in a city. The kids are kind of parented by the others in the street. They have real relationships with the adults, as well as each other. Anyone with an appetite for eccentric figures will more likely find them here. It doesn’t happen in the gated suburbs, where people are more spread out.”

“This is my, heightened, slightly imagined version of the (Christchurch) High Street,” De Goldi says, “with a slightly personal history too. A couple of my generations have lived in buildings above these shops. We all went to that Basilica for mass. It’s part of my family’s fond, collective history. We remember the shops and people and those days we were there. And now as a Wellingtonian I always go back there for my frame of reference. Even though, now it only exists in memory. Much of the street came down and is rubble now.”

Remains of the McKenzie Willis building, on High Street, Christchurch after the quakes.

Remains of the McKenzie Willis building, on High Street, Christchurch after the quakes.

Also an important part of the picture, De Goldi says, was to set Barney living over an old school junk shop. “The kind that Christchurch’s High Street were once full of, with discarded fashions, lawnmowers, TVs and appliances and all manner of bric-a-brac.” The ultimate props room for a filmmaker, and a place of constant visual inspiration.

The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle is definitely one of those multi-layered books that will, hopefully, invite many re-reads as its reader gets older. For the younger reader, there’s the opportunity to explore a world lost forever. For older readers, perhaps a chance to remember a world that is still alive in their own imagination.

Interview by Tim Gruar

The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle
by Kate De Goldi
Published by Longacre, Penguin Random House NZ
ISBN 9781775535768

Book Review: From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, by Kate De Goldi

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This book will be launched tonight at Unity Books Wellington, from 6pm. It will be available in bookshops nationwide from tomorrow.  

I had to slow myself down while reading this book, to better savour the words inside. Halfway through, I already knew I wanted to re-read it. Kate De Goldi is a spectacular wordsmith. Her main characters, Ren and Barney, are alive on the page, so alive that to read their story is to experience it. I certainly experienced a craving for Sultana Pasties, Barney’s favourite biscuit, while reading each evening.

Barney Kettle, as you can probably tell from the cover and title of the book, is a filmmaker. He lives and breathes “thethrillingalchemyofthecreativeprocess”. Though he is only 12, he is certain a successful career as a film director is in his future. After all, he has already produced three 15-minute films. His teacher mum thinks he is a megalomaniac, but also thinks that this is a good thing for a film director to be. He loves nothing more than to be called ‘Maestro’. His 11-year-old sister Ren is his ‘Slash’. She plays the role of producer / assistant director / casting director / set designer / costume manager / location scout / caterer in all of his grandly schemed films.

We enter the world of Barney and Ren from the perspective of an unnamed man in a hospital bed. He begins the story twice, and the story is written, though not strictly alternately, from Barney then Ren’s points of view. The perspectives of each sibling bring a different colour to their story of the street they live on; for their fourth film is to be a documentary called the Untold Story, and it is about the Street and its residents, each of whom comes alive as they are filmed. Bambi, a Canadian acrobat, is just one of these residents: ‘She had performed with a triple trapeze in countless Big Tops; she had lived closely with clowns.’

280px-ChristchurchBasilica_gobeirneAs well as being the story of Barney, this is the story of Christchurch’s High Street prior to the earthquake. I lived in the Catholic boarding school next to the Basilica mentioned in this novel, attending there once a week for mass (and once walking inside the top of the domes). I often walked to town via High Street, and first became aware of how beautiful certain periods of architecture were while walking down it. Kate writes incredibly immersive books – as with the character of Frankie in The 10pm Question, you feel you want to jump up and down with Barney when he is excited, and your emotions plunge with Barney’s as glitches in his grand plans arise.

As well as the story of the Street, there is a mystery, which begins concurrent to the Untold Story with a simple white envelope marked ‘YOU’. We follow the siblings through the homes of their friends, filming as we go, and keeping an eye out for another envelope. One brilliant filming session happens in Montgomery’s, the community bookshop. Suit drops in to purchase his weekly book – a day early – and the siblings ask him what he likes about the shop.

Oh, it’s the ambience…. Then there is the endless potential in the books, the warmth they seem to exude, their heady aroma. The filtered light. And the hush of absorption. The holy feeling of a republic of readers. And the presiding magus – the person who brings us all this. Without Gene’s dedication, and Sarah’s and Billie’s, of course, where would we be? We would be a lesser Street.’

I feel richer for having read about the people of De Goldi’s High Street, from the bookshop to the Nut Shop, the junk shop the kids’ dad runs, to the Living History Museum – an echo of the website created by ex-High Street inhabitants, High Street Stories. I urge everybody to go and get this book and read it, no matter your age. This ode to the Christchurch of yore is phenomenally good.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle
by Kate De Goldi
Published by Longacre Press / Penguin Random House NZ
ISBN 9781775535768

Do you love international YA literature? Kiwis do it just as well!

Since Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize for The Luminaries, people have become more aware of the quality of our local fiction. Which is amazing. But did you know that our YA fiction is of the same quality as much that is produced overseas? No? Well let me educate you about a few of our top YA novelists writing right now.

Trilogies and series’
First of all – trilogies and series’. Internationally, trends have driven our teens through magical boarding schools (Harry Potter), paranormal and vampires (Twilight), dystopias (The Hunger Games), and extreme political situations (Divergent). Note that not only did these trilogies sell incredibly high volumes, they have also become films.

cv_juno_of_tarisLet me begin with one of my favourites. Fleur Beale wrote an incredible trilogy from 2008, beginning with Juno of Taris, about the life of a girl who was born into an isolated island community. This community is under a bubble, to protect them from the environment which they are led to believe by their ruling elders has been polluted to unliveable standards. The book questions the accepted, it has a gutsy heroine, and it has just a glimmer of magic to boot. The three books are Juno of Taris, Fierce September, and Heart of Darkness (all published by Random House).

cv_dreamhunterIf you want magical realism (think Patrick Ness, Philip Pullman, Margaret Mahy), you cannot go past Dreamhunter / Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox. The world of Southland draws you in, and makes you feel like anything is possible. I remember reading this for the first time, and wishing so much that I was reading it aged 13 or 14, simply to be closer to what I was like then, ready to believe that dreams were catchable, that magic was real. This has more recently been supplemented with Mortal Fire (Gecko Press), which is itself due a sequel one day!

cv_the_crossing_tnMandy Hager writes trilogies and stand-alone books with equal aplomb. The trilogy that comes to mind as an excellent dystopia based on an extreme political situation, is ‘The Blood of the Lamb’ series. Composed of The Crossing, Into the Wilderness, and Resurrection, the trilogy is prefaced on a ‘last survivor’ cult that operates from a ship in the Pacific Ocean. The storyline covers racial inequality, political persecution, and other broad dystopian themes. It is hard-hitting, and wonderfully written.

Our own John Greens
In terms of stand-alone, issues-based novels, there are few hotter right now than John Green. With his abilities on social media, and his hard-hitting topics, he is a hard one to beat. But I would say that there are several of our very own authors who come close.

cv_see_ya_simonFor instance, David Hill. One of David Hill’s first massive publishing successes (in 1992) was See Ya, Simon, in which the narrator’s best friend is a boy with muscular dystrophy, who doesn’t have long to live. This book was picked up around the world, and has been translated into many languages. David has written around 30 YA titles, all with strong believable characters, dealing with recognisable teenage emotions and dramas. (Others I would recommend are Duet, and My Brother’s War).

cv_the_nature_of_ashMandy Hager also comes to mind when thinking about health issues, with books like The Nature of Ash, which sees a teenage boy struggling with caring for his Downs Syndrome-suffering brother, while navigating the apocalypse. More recently, Dear Vincent, deals head-on with death of a sibling; as does Anna Mackenzie’s The Shadow of the Mountain.

Let me also mention Kate De Goldi, with her crossover award-winner The 10pm Question. Also Penelope Todd, with the trilogy Watermark (still available in e-book format), which itself is faintly reminiscent of something more otherworldly, classic children’s trilogy The Halfmen of O, by Maurice Gee. While on the topic of Gee, let me just recommend the Salt Trilogy – it is rather wonderful.

Can you tell how much I love kiwi dystopian YA trilogies?

The Children and Young Adults’ Book Awards
WhenWeWake_CVR_128x198x21.5_FA.inddThe YA section of the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adults’ Book awards is always strong, and I always wonder how the judges can possibly choose a winner. This year, Karen Healey was one of the contenders. Healey is somebody you cannot fail to mention while discussing and recommending current kiwi YA fiction. Author of four books, two of which are part of the When We Wake trilogy, she is one to watch for her very real teenage voices. Pick it up.

If you like your YA set in the past, Tania Roxborogh and Anna Mackenzie are both ones to watch. Each have written broadly about teen themes, so they aren’t one-trick ponies, but I would recommend Banquo’s Son and the others incv_cattras_legacy Roxborogh’s trilogy for those who like their teenage problems with a 12th-century dramatic twist; while Mackenzie has two titles in the Cattra’s Legacy trilogy out so far, set in medieval times.

For action along the lines of Robert Muchamore’s CHERUB series, but keeping it kiwi, you can’t go far wrong with Brian Falkner. He has been publishing great action books for teens for many years now, and is currently in the midst of a series called Recon Team Angel. One stand-alone that I must recommend, from a few years ago, is Brain Jack. I seem to remember reading it over a few hours when I got my hands on it. Another author to check out both current and past titles of along these lines is Ken Catran – he writes stand-alone books packed with drama and excitement.

The wonderful thing about writers of YA in New Zealand is that I haven’t met one I didn’t like. They are humble and generous, while writing these incredible books that transport teenagers all over New Zealand into different worlds. Let’s hope that the melding of Random House and Penguin doesn’t interrupt this incredible industry. Or perhaps it will prompt the creation of a new company: does anybody fancy starting a new publishing house dedicated to good-quality kiwi YA?

By Sarah Forster

People I haven’t mentioned, who are also worth looking up (i.e. I think this piece is long enough): Bernard Beckett, Barbara Else, R.L Steadman, David Hair, V. M Jones, Jack Lasenby, Ted Dawe, Joy Cowley, Adele Broadbent, Melinda Szymanik, Alison Robertson, Maryanne Scott, Sherryl Jordan (I loved her writing as a kid), and newcomer Rachael Craw. If there are more I have missed, please add your recommendations in the comments!

The Margaret Mahy Lecture, by Elizabeth Knox – WORD Festival, Sun 31 August

Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture, by Elizabeth Knox
An Unreal House Filled with Real Storms

I am a pretty gregarious person. I approach people at events; I call people on the phone. (When left on my own for more than a few hours, I go mad and start serenading my pet rats.) I am a natural networker, and literary events like writers festivals are like catnip to me: I get to talk to other readers, to meet authors I’ve read and discover others I’d like to read, to buy books and get them freshly signed. Having a media pass is even better − I get to interview people, hobnob with celebrities, and tune my curious book-reviewing brain to live events. My usual festival MO is to constantly make myself available for interesting conversations.

When Elizabeth Knox’s lecture ended, I did none of these things. I couldn’t wait to get out of the room. I saw many people I knew, who I enjoy conversing with, but I approached none of them. I headed straight outside into the calming Christchurch cold and towards the cardboard cathedral.

I didn’t know what to think. It was just before 11 in the morning on a Sunday and my mind was in whirring turmoil. What had I just experienced? Some kind of profound and disruptive event of the mind. I wasn’t ready to be around other people, wasn’t ready to discuss the experience we’d all just had. I couldn’t even put it into words in my own head. And why was I striding so desperately towards the cathedral? I am an atheist, and have never, from my compulsory-Catholicism childhood onwards, viewed houses of worship as places of consolation.

Perhaps it was that Knox had spoken so matter-of-factly about experiencing the presence of god in her own life; doing what she had credited Mahy with; “making the supernatural natural”. Perhaps it was because, when Kate De Goldi came back onstage to do the end-of-event wrap-up, she suggested that, rather than ask questions, the audience just file silently out, as from a church. We did. Many of us had been crying.

Either way, I was stymied. It was a Sunday morning and the cathedral was being used for its primary purpose: there was a service on, and I didn’t want to join in. So I walked around outside, touched the cardboard, admired the stark, fresh lines of the architecture, and listened to the singing − borrowed sounds of beauty and calm.

I thought about Knox, about her talking about the experience Mahy had had on her as a reader: “she opened up a room in New Zealand literature that I wanted to hang out in”. And I thought about how the same is true of my discovery of Knox. I was living in England and feeling a bit distanced from New Zealandness. One day in a bookshop I discovered a book that had been written by a fellow Kiwi called Elizabeth: The Vintner’s Luck. I bought and read it.

It was so strange, almost uncomfortable. Was it literary fiction? Fantasy? Paranormal slash? (One of my favourite Knox quotes is a tweet she once sent: “I am a genre-tunneling monster!”) Was it New Zealand literature? It wasn’t set in Aotearoa and it didn’t have that NZ lit feel at all. But in that book I met something, someone, that has stayed with me ever since. Knox opened up a room for me in New Zealand literature that I value enormously. I revisit it whenever I need to be prodded in the mind, pushed off my comfortable perch and forced to fly. Knox’s writing reminds me that the world is strange and that I can be better in it. Ehara koe i a ia, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Knox’s inaugural Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture, entitled ‘An Unreal House Filled With Real Storms’, will be coming to national radio soon, and Knox promises to publish it as prose as well. Make sure you go there.

by Elizabeth Heritage, Freelance writer and publisher

www.elizabethheritage.co.nz

Reading Favourites – another take – from WORD Christchurch Readers & Writers festival, Friday 29 August

My first session for the WORD Christchurch Writers Festival this year was Reading Favourites: Kate De Goldi, Sarah Laing and Carl Nixon in conversation with Guy Somerset about their favourite New Zealand books. It was an excellent way into WORD, which celebrates reading and writing in the context of Aotearoa.

Author and children’s book reviewer Kate De Goldi was first up, recommending to us Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne – a gothic mystery with an unreliable narrator, and hailed by many as the great unread Kiwi novel. De Goldi said it’s the kind of book you love so much that you give it to someone you fancy as a sort of compatibility test. She spoke very movingly about her love for this novel and introduced what would become a theme: the lack of recognition for the work within New Zealand (although a cult following is now developing), with it consequently going out of print and becoming difficult to find. Happily, Sydney Bridge Upside Down has now been republished by Text Publishing in Australia and is available in NZ bookshops – for example, at the excellent UBS Canterbury stall right here at the festival.
southseas
De Goldi’s second choice was Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary New Zealand Art for Young People (Auckland University Press) by Gregory O’Brien. She said it entirely lacks that “instructive worthiness” so prevalent amongst children’s non-fiction, and is instead accessible, personal and engaging – for adults as well as kids. And after she read aloud from the book, I immediately wanted to sit down with it and read the rest. Welcome to the South Seas is due to be re-published by AUP, with two companion volumes soon.

cv_hicksvilleAuthor and cartoonist Sarah Laing’s first pick for her favourite NZ book was Hicksville (Victoria University Press, 2012; but ), a graphic novel by Dylan Horrocks, who was in the audience. Laing said she devoured comics as a child, but, as a young woman, found comic book shops to be “scary” and off-putting. But she is rediscovering comics now, and incorporates cartoons in her own novels (as well as publishing the webcomic and blog, Let Me Be Frank). Laing praised Hicksville for its multi-layered, intertextual nature, and the way it creates a utopian version of Aotearoa where comics thrive and are loved by all. There was also a very interesting discussion of the way graphic novels force to you read in a different way.

Laing commented that, due to their ephemeral nature (both in terms of magazine-like publishing and in the sense of not being part of the literary mainstream), comics can be hard to track down. Horrocks is now published in NZ, but for a long time was only published overseas.

fromearthsendLaing’s second choice was From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics by Adrian Kinnaird (Random House NZ), which she praised as a unique and extremely useful history of cartooning in New Zealand. Guy Somerset commented that he was interested to learn that NZ used to have a thriving comics publishing industry in the mid-twentieth century, until the moral panic about the effects of cartoons on children’s minds effectively shut it all down.

Novelist Carl Nixon’s first choice was The Day Hemingway Died and other stories by Owen Marshall, which he said was one of the first NZ books he read without being told to. He praised the way Marshall perfectly illustrates human foibles while also producing writing that is laugh-out-loud funny. Nixon then proved this last point by reading an excerpt, which did indeed make us all laugh.
gifted
Nixon also enthusiastically recommended to us Gifted by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press), a novel about the real-life working relationship between iconic Kiwi authors Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson. Nixon praised Evans for “capturing what you believe to be Sargeson’s voice”. Like Sydney Bridge Upside Down, Gifted has been adapted for the stage.

Finally, Guy Somerset, Books and Culture editor for The Listener, recommended Arena by John Cranna, a futuristic novel of a brutalised dystopia. Somerset said it’s the first NZ book he read, in order to impress his new Kiwi wife.

Reading Favourites was an excellent session, and I was pleased to see many people head straight to the book stall afterwards. I came away with some excellent additions to my (teetering, infinite) To Read Pile – always a good sign that a writers festival has done its job. Looking forward to more to come!

by Elizabeth Heritage, Freelance writer and publisher
www.elizabethheritage.co.nz

Happy Birthday Janet and Reading Favourites with Sarah Jane Barnett & Matt Bialostocki, WORD Festival Friday 29 August

Sarah Jane Barnett is a poet, creative writing tutor, and reviewer from Wellington. Matt Bialostocki is a writer, photographer, and bookseller from Wellington. Together they went to a full day of festival events at the WORD Writers’ & Readers Festival 2014 in Christchurch. After each of the sessions they recorded their conversation. This is what was said in the first two sessions.

Happy Birthday, Janet
Friday, 29 August, 12pm

Owen Marshall, Tusiata Avia, and Bernadette Hall celebrate Janet Frame’s 90th birthday with favourite janet_framereadings and musings. Chaired by Pamela Gordon (Frame’s neice and literary executor).

Sarah: Our first session of the day was quite a session. What did you think?
Matt: The selection of material was great—a short story, four poems, and then a novel excerpt and a poem.
S: Each writer talked about the way Janet had influenced them. Owen Marshall—where did he get that plug from? [During the session Marshall had held up a bath plug on a chain]
M: Willowglen. It’s where Frame lived in Oamaru, a town where Marshall had also lived. He ripped it out of the sink in the corner of a room.
S: Yeah, it seemed important to him that they’d both lived in Oamaru, that they’d inhabited the same space. I was also quite excited by Bernadette Hall ‘stealing’ Frame’s words—in her making them part of her own poem.
M: They were from the novel, State of Seige. Hall used them in her poem, “Dark Pasture.”state of seige
S: It was Hall’s response to Frame’s work. She alternated her lines with Frame’s. That reading floored me; it showed me how much Frame still influences our writers.
M: They all had a personal connection to the work they were reading, and to Frame’s work as a whole. Marshall also noted that while a lot of people related to her fiction, there is a tangible sense of response to her autobiographical work because she was writing about places people knew; they were places they lived and places they shared.
S: He’s an amazing reader. I would like to have Marshall read me one of Frame’s novels.
M: You’d just have to watch out for your bath plug.

Reading Favourites
Friday, 29 August 2.30pm
Kate De Goldi, Sarah Laing, and Carl Nixon talk about two of their favourite New Zealand books with Guy Somerset.

cv_sydney_bridge_upside_downS: That was freaking amazing!
M: Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels! Let’s quickly cover the books. First, De Goldi told us about Sydney Bridge Upside Down by David Ballantyne. She called it the ‘great unread New Zealand novel’. Laing recommended the graphic novel Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks, and Nixon recommended The Day Hemingway Died and Other Stories by Owen Marshall.
S: Nixon said he felt it shows a darker side to Marshall’s writing. I want to read that.
M: For her second book, De Goldi raved about Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary New Zealand Art for Young People by Gregory O’Brien. She said that we needed more creative non-fiction for kids in New Zealand. I agree. Laing showed us From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics by Adrian Kinnaird. She pointed out the ephemeral nature of NZ comics, and how this means it’s easy to miss new titles. Finally, Nixon spoke to us about Gifted by Patrick Evans—a novel about Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson.
S: His reading was fantastic. So fantastically funny! That is definitely one I’m going to read.
M: It’s developed a cult following.
S: day_hemingway_diedThey all recommended books they came to through a personal process of discovery. I think there’s something in that. Laing read comics as a kid, but then discovered them again in her 30s; The Day Hemingway Died was the first book Nixon discovered himself at age eighteen. De Goldi used the word ‘evangalising’; they really wanted us to read these books—to love them as they did. Many were out of print, though, or first published outside New Zealand. What does that say?
M: Yes—Hicksville was first published by the Canadian publisher Black Eye Productions in 1998 [and VUP in 2012], and Sydney Bridge Upside Down was originally published in 1968 but was out of print for years until De Goldi foisted a copy on a Australian publisher who was over for dinner.
S: De Goldi talked about the value of libraries. That’s where we find out-of-print books.
M: And all of these books were loved by at least one other person on the panel. Actually, Somerset was a great chair. He got them talking about the books so we could hear their varied responses.
S: He called them the ‘uber book group’. I felt encouraged. Nixon said he doesn’t read graphic novels and De Goldi said, ‘You need to learn to read them’. This is something I think for myself.

 

These conversations were recorded and transcribed after the events: Happy Birthday, Janet and Reading Favourites, by Sarah Jane Barnett and Matt Bialostocki.

Words of the Day: Tuesday 4 March

words_of_the_day_graphic

Follow us on Twitter to get this news as it happens: https://twitter.com/BooksellersNZ

Book Reviews
The Secret of Magic is a book that will move you.’ A look into post-WW2 southern USA bigotry.

Here is the March book review schedule for Radio NZ @ninetonoon

Book Review: Charlotte and the Golden Promise, by Sandy McKay

Events
Elizabeth Knox and Kate De Goldi will be at the new Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival.

If Rime of the Ancient Mariner is on your @NZFestival shortlist, you better hurry – tickets are selling fast!

Giveaways
A 24-hour giveaway to a fab event: Writing a Life Less Ordinary next Tuesday at 3.15pm. Includes books!  

Monica Dux is coming! And she’s doing an event or two for Writer’s Week! Win tickets and books!

Book news
If you are a writer-event-enjoyer, but a bit skint, here is your solution: free events!

We are now calling for registrations for National Poetry Day 2014. Plan ahead!

@thebookseller reviews the state of New Zealand publishing

Random House NZ have a brand new community for crime and thriller fans! Head over to http://www.randomhouse.co.nz/crime and check it out.

Booksellers NZ’s Preview of Reviews, Monday 3 March

Congratulations to those who have received funding through the NZSA/Auckland Museum research grants
 
Around the Internet
Award-Winning Authors Struggling to Make Ends Meet: Writing for The Guardian, Robert McCrum…

Helen Rickerby is Tuesday Poem editor this week, and is delighted to share three treats from Bird Murder by Stefanie Lash

Here’s a book title that obviously wasn’t conceived in NZ: 1080 recipes. Possum stew, anyone?

VUP newsletter online now for those who don’t subscribe. Includes Lamplighter and Horse with Hat giveaways.

Thanks everybody – enjoy your evenings.

NB: We are having continuous problems with our site currently, so if you are unable to use any of these links, there is a good chance that they are correct, but the site has gone down. Our hosts are carrying on working on the problem, and we hope to be back to our reliable selves ASAP.

Email digest: Tuesday 6 August 2013

This is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews

(From Bite the Book) The Bookshop Strikes Back, by Ann Patchett…

FRIDAY BOOK CLUB: Danyl McLauchlan and Sarah Laing’s latest books reviewed. Plus a bit of what’s on in Palmy-bookland

Event

Love live storytelling? Book now for True Stories Told Live the XX factor! 7pm, August 15 in Auckland

Book News

Auckland bookseller moves business to Dunedin – book, stock and barrel

Amie said it was a great ceremony…congrats to the winners of the LIANZA awards

The ‘Not the Booker Prize’ shortlist – Fancy a vote?

Giveaways

Win a Mo Willems take on Goldilocks and the Three…

Enter the L’affare competition to win some of the great books nominated for #lianzacba

Awards News

Did you know the #nzpba have a festival attached this year? Join us in celebrating our finalist book

Add your #nzpba People’s Choice vote to the mix & be in to win $1000 of book tokens…how many books is that?

From around the internet

Weird libraries…these are cool.

40 books you need to read before turning 40

Kate De Goldi and Kim Hill talked chapter books last Saturday. Here’s the podcast

Book review: The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi

cv_A_B_C_with_Honora_leeThis book is in bookstores now.

If you’re looking for a sensational book to read this summer, look no further. The ACB with Honora Lee is New Zealand author Kate De Goldi’s latest book, and tells the story of nine-year-old Perry.

Perry likes to ask questions, but she rarely gets answers. Her mother and father are very busy people, and are always working. She doesn’t have many children to play with, either; only her babysitter Nina’s son Claude. Perry is an only child, and her family is very small. There’s Perry, her mum and dad; and, of course, there’s Gran.

Gran lives at Santa Lucia, a home for the elderly. Perry and her father visit her there every Saturday. Santa Lucia is a chaotic place, full of mishaps, mysteries and peppermints. When one of Perry’s classes is cancelled, she decides to spend her Thursdays at Santa Lucia with her gran. The people at Santa Lucia are, to say the least, a wild bunch. Perry’s gran, for instance, has a habit of stealing Melvyn Broome’s peppermints. Melvyn Broome has a habit of hitting people who steal his peppermints with his walking cane. Gran, as well as most the people at Santa Lucia, has a weak memory, yet instead of being confused, she sticks to the few things she can remember about her past. Perry decides that what this unusual yet lovable family needs is something practical, reliable, and orderly; and what could be more reliable than an alphabet book?

As Perry works on her ABC book, she tries to stick to the rules, but as the people at Santa Lucia help her, the alphabet soon is an A-C-B; a jumbled, confused version of the alphabet. Nothing stays the same at Santa Lucia, but soon Perry begins to wonder: is it Gran, Doris and the others who don’t make sense, or is it the strict, “do-as-I-say” world outside Santa Lucia’s walls that doesn’t?

The ACB with Honora Lee is a simple yet powerful novel, and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It is tinged with subtle humour and written in an almost poetic way. You will never want to put it down!

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon

The ACB with Honora Lee
by Kate De Goldi
Longacre Press $34.99
ISBN 9781869799892