After a 5am start (‘can we go on the train yet?’) and a muttered It’s-not-light-yet-go-back-to-sleep, Esme and I moved around the house with a quiet determination NOT to miss the Children’s Room Story-time Train to Port Chalmers this morning. As we arrived at one-of-the-most-photographed-railway-stations-in-the-world (who measures that, and how? But yes, it is gorgeous), passengers were treated to trainside performances of song and dance from Kat Anna Fiddle and furry costumed characters. As both the crowd and anticipation grew, this risky but rewarding event got under way with a call of ‘all aboard!’ and a collective squeal from the under 7’s. Children over this age smiled lots. As did parents, it must be noted. As one myself, it was just so nice to have an event for younger folk – an acknowledgement that writers and readers are of all ages, not just us older bookish types.
Why risky? Well, an event that has approximately 100 excited children on a train (and then in a small community library) can be described as many things, and risky is certainly one of them. Whilst wonderfully contained on the train, walking from where the train stopped to the library entailed rigorous traffic control and constant reminders to the children that, yes, cars do travel on the road at Port Chalmers. It was great that organisers had put these safety measures in place.
Additionally, any attempt to organise post-train adrenalized children in a small space could easily be described as herding cats, and those in charge really rose to the challenge, with the youngest children downstairs and the older upstairs, and a swap halfway through the time to share the wonderful authors with all ages. Diana Noonan and Robyn Belton were pitch perfect for the littlies, and Kyle Mewburn’s maniacal manner created a wonderfully controlled chaos in his young audience. Mewburn has a glint in his eye and a way with words.
And rewarding? Definitely. Whatever your age, trains are cool. Books are cool. So trains and books together? Ultra cool. And Esme was pretty impressed with the snack pack and gift from the amazing people at UBS and the end of the experience. Thanks Dunedin Writers and Readers festival for including all ages in this celebration of the written word. It’s just so cool to spread that love of words.
Event reviewed by Lara Liesbeth on behalf of Booksellers NZ
Catlins-based award-winning writer, Diana Noonan, and New Zealand’s best-loved illustrator, and sometime Dunedinite Robyn Belton, have collaborated on a just-released children’s book, launched Friday 15 November 2013 by New Zealand Society of Authors President, and Miller’s Flat resident, Kyle Mewburn. This coincided with the opening of the new Children’s Room & Bookshop at the University Book Shop.
“Children’s books can’t exist without good bookshops to stock them; and of course good bookshops can’t exist without wonderful books to stock,” says UBS Otago manager, Phillippa Duffy. “Neither can exist without children and parents who understand both the magic and importance of reading.”
The Teddy Bear’s Promise, an endearing picture book published by Craig Potton Publishing, encapsulates the essence of growing up, and the warmth of enduring love. Children, parents and grandparents alike will all appreciate the rich and timeless themes in this poignant story of a little boy, a teddy bear and the love which binds families together.
The Children’s Room is an extension of the University Book Shop, increasing their retail area to create a specialised children’s bookshop within their Great King Street shop. It aims to help children grow a love of reading, or to extend the passion for books they already have; and for grown-ups to rediscover the magic of their favourite childhood bookstore. They will be hosting a free story-time every Friday and Saturday in-store at 10.30am on the magic carpet.
“Diana and Robyn are extremely well-respected in New Zealand bookselling and publishing for children and have both been so supportive of The Children’s Room concept,” says Duffy. “I’m thrilled the launch and the opening will occur in tandem as it symbolises the importance of writers, illustrators, publishers, schools and bookstores all working together to create life-long readers.”
Diana Noonan is a children’s writer –over 100 books from young adult to children’s picture books. She has won numerous awards over the years, and lives in the remote Catlins, south of Dunedin.
I have read many books to small children over a number of years and am familiar with earlier books she has written – The Best-loved Bear and The Best-dressed Bear. This book – The Teddy Bear’s Promise is written and illustrated in the same endearing style.
The same day that Max’s Dad helped his Gran shift, he bought a dusty box home. The story that unfolds is of a very remarkable bear that was there for another little boy many years before. The journey this bear has been on and how he came to end up in a box neglected for many years is a story than most small children will adore. It’s a simple and uncluttered story with beautiful illustrations. I found the story very touching and am looking forward to reading this book in the near future, to some of my younger grandchildren.
This book would appeal to children from as young as 8 – 9 months old upwards. With Christmas not too far away, this would make a lovely gift.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
The Teddy Bear’s Promise
by Diana Noonan, illustrated by Robyn Belton
Published by Craig Potton Publishing