Book Review: Annual 2, edited by Kate de Goldi & Susan Paris

Annual-2-cvr-72dpi-max-800Available in bookshops nationwide.

Annual 2 is a beautiful book to behold. With its gentle green colouration, whimsically pop-art styled illustration and thick creamy pages, it is decidedly collectible. On opening the book one is treated to an Aladdin’s cave of the oddball and quirky, with a charming irreverence that is an absolute delight.

For this is no ordinary compendium of stories, compiled from an array of New Zealand authors, illustrators and other creatively-minded people. No, this is a figurative treasure chest to grab and engage the mind and attention. There are short stories, yes, and essays too, plus several comics.

But there is so much more: the board game of “Blended Families”, taking one on a ride roll-and-move through the hazards of step parents and siblings; a slightly twisted interview with a taxidermist (he took up the occupation so he could preserve his beloved cat, Mr Mallory); quirky craft activities (ever wanted to knit a digestive system? Or build an eye-catchingly garish mailbox?); a pancake recipe, complete with how to ferment your own sauerkraut; a double-page spread on the identification of ‘Common Household Biscuits and Slices of New Zealand’ complete with scientific names (Raisin biscuits are known as Deceptus terribloides); strange historic postcards; colourful illustrations; tips on how to be a rock star. There is something for everyone here, something to delight and entertain the young (and young at heart). I urge you to pick it up and take a look!

Annual 2 is a very modern, contemporary collection, with a sophistication one rarely finds in more mainstream annuals. It is the sort of book that will hopefully find its way into Christmas stockings all over the country, into the collections of book lovers, and be passed on through the generations.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Annual 2
edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris
Published by AnnualInk
ISBN 9780473395230

Books I’ll be Giving this Christmas, by Jenna Todd

Jenna Todd is the Manager of Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden, Auckland, which was this year crowned Nielsen Independent Bookshop of the Year. Here are the books she is planning to give friends and family this Christmas. And you can win them: just tell us your favourite cover in the comments, and/or over on Facebook!

cv_swing_timeSwing Time, by Zadie Smith (Penguin)
Swing Time is my go-to fiction recommendation for this Christmas. There is a touch of Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels in terms of female friendships carrying the story however, there’s a lot more going on including the exploration of race, the internet, and pop culture. This layered narrative allows you to take in the story on so many levels. It’s fresh, contemporary and a novel that captures a snapshot of current times.

A is for Aotearoa, by Diane Newcombe & Melissa Anderson Scott (Puffin)
cv_a_is_for_aotearoaI may be biased, as Diane & Missy are Mt. Eden locals, but this is the type of book that will go out of print and customers will be asking after it for years to come.  A is for Aotearoa follows on from the successful A is for Auckland. It’s slightly more advanced as the reader is given as series of clues for each letter of the alphabet and they have to guess each New Zealand landmark (don’t worry, the answers are in the back!) It’s the type of book that can be read together as a family, with interactive flaps and whimsical illustrations. I’ve sent this to my dear Canadian friends and they just snapchatted me a picture of it under their Christmas tree.

cv_annualAnnual, edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (Gecko Press)
When I saw a proof of Annual at the NZ Booksellers Conference this year, I was so excited. Kate De Goldi has curated a treasure trove of some of NZ’s most loved and soon to be loved creative talents. Presented in a beautiful A4-sized hardback, this is the perfect gift for the curious NZ child. I plan to give this to my 12-year-old sister, and I hope more are published so I can give her one every year!

cv_tell_you_what_2017Tell you what 2017, edited by Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew (AUP)
This is the third year that Tell You What has been around and it’s such a treasure to sell. Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew have brought together the best non fiction written over 2016. It’s such an easy present to give as it’s perfect for someone who lives and engages in New Zealand culture or for someone who has never been here – so pretty much anyone! I plan to give this to anyone that I can’t decide what to buy them.

The Shops, by Steve Braunias (Luncheon Sausage Books)
cv_the_shopsCivilisation and Scene of the Crime have been some of Time Out’s bestselling non fiction over the last few years. Luncheon Sausage brings us the NZ gothic feeling of these titles − but this time Steve’s writing is accompanied by an excellent series of images by Peter Black. Each image of Black’s feels like a Braunias essay in itself − it says so much by saying not much at all. This year, I will be buying The Shops for my husband so I can have the pleasure of owning it too!

by Jenna Todd

10 reasons to pick up Annual, edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris

Available now in bookshops nationwide. Kate De Goldi will be at VicBooks in Kelburn this NZ Bookshop Day, at 2pm, talking about Annual.

cv_annualAs you open the Gecko Annual, you know you have something special in your hands. The endpapers are literally works of art – if a print of these exist, let me know, Gecko! The contents by Dylan Horrocks is an entirely unique way of approaching a contents page. I could ramble about the beauty of the contents ad nauseum, but instead of going through each story and page, I’m going to give you 10 good reasons to get a copy of Annual.

  1. Cartoons!
    My favourite part of every Annual was always the cartoons, and the cartoon strips. ‘Bad Luck Zebra’ is a little bit of genius; ‘Holiday’, by Jonathan King is baffling and awesome; and ‘Parsley Magic’ takes some classic fairy tales and rewrites them. That was my 6-year-old’s favourite.
  2. Diversity
    Editors Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris have ensured that the viewpoints put across in this collection are diverse and interesting, and the content is top-notch.
  3. Wonderful, quirky illustrations
    You can’t go too far wrong when you’ve got side illustrations by Gavin Bishop, Sarah Wilkins, Giselle Clarkson, and Sarah Laing; and lots of fantastic artists I hadn’t previously heard of.
  4. How to look at art
    Unexpectedly, these were some of my favourite sections. Nobody ever talked to me about how to look at art at school; still less shared choice aspects of NZ life through it.
  5. Old favourites, with new voices
    Another story in the world of Fontania, from Barbara Else. Meanwhile, an adventure journal from Gavin Mouldey introduces an adventure tale I’d love to see continued elsewhere – and so would my 6-year-old son.


  6. How to write & illustrate
    Paul Beavis can do very little wrong in my books, so it will be no surprise to find that I loved this short illustrated Monster-based section, telling young people how to create their own lead character and write and illustrate their own story.
  7. The unexpected
    A piece of satire from Steve Braunias, a (very apt) song from Samuel Scott, a sad tale from Damien Wilkins, spot the similarities, the Rhyme Ninja… I love the Rhyme Ninja.
  8. New words
    Kirsten McDougall’s ‘A Box of Birds’ was a trail of excitement for young Dan, as he asked the meaning of each new word as I read it! Such good words.


  9. Crafts from Fifi
    My favourite craftsperson. I will say though, most of us would not be able to paint a lord and lady bottle person quite as elegantly as Fifi does! (I will undoubtedly be required to prove this at some point, I’ll post a pic if I have to.)
  10. A website to go with it tells us how it came to be, all about the contributors (so the bios aren’t taking up all that space in the action-packed Annual), and the history of annuals.

And of course, did I mention that the editors are our beloved Kate De Goldi, and School Journal long-time editor Susan Paris? No? Well they are, and that is fantastic. I look forward to this becoming an annual institution.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570775