Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wellington Children’s Book Association Chair’s report 2013-2014

Wellington Children’s Book Association
Chair’s report 2013-2014
AGM held on 27 July 2014 at Mediterranean Food Warehouse, Newtown.

Last year’s AGM was on 31 July 2013 at the Children’s Bookshop, followed by Fleur Beale sharing her Margaret Mahy Medal speech with us.

Events later in the year unfortunately did not include the Storylines Family Day scheduled for Saturday 17 August 2013, but cancelled because of concerns about the venue and possible aftershocks following the earthquake the day before.

On 21 August 2013, we held a panel discussion at the Southern Cross with the title: SEX: How far do you go in young adult fiction? We felt this would be a hot topic, given the controversy over Ted Dawe’s book Into the river winning the NZ Post Young Adult Fiction Award and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year. YA writers Mandy Hager and Bernard Beckett and romance writer Daphne de Jong made for an entertaining and well informed panel, ably chaired by Fifi Colston, but we were disappointed with the low turnout and decided not to hold any more such events until we have a better venue, or can work out why it was so poorly attended .

It was a wonderful evening in November when Mandy Hager was awarded the prestigious Katherine Mansfield  Fellowship for 2014, allowing her to live in Menton, France and carry out research for her novel on the French nun, scholar and writer Heloise d'Argenteuil, and her love affair with Pierre Abelard.

In November 2013, we also ran the Jack Lasenby Junior Award and received a good number of entries. Some schools always encourage their students to go in for this, and we are grateful for their support. The winning entry, chosen by judge Eirlys Hunter, was “A choice to make” by Ben Espiner of HIBS, with four other highly commended entries.

In January 2014, the WCBA was asked by Lift Education (who now have the contract for some ex-Learning Media publications) to see if any of our members would be interested in a meeting planned for 3 March at Te Papa. This was a Ministry of Education information evening for current and potential writers, illustrators and photographers for Lift Education resources such as the School Journal and Junior Journal. We sent in names of those interested and a number of WCBA members attended.

We were delighted to see that Kathryn Carmody had put together such a brilliant programme for Wellington Writers Week (part of the International Festival of the Arts) which included fabulous children’s writers and illustrators such as Leo Timmers from Belgium, Ulf Stark from Sweden and our own Jack Lasenby in conversation with Kate de Goldi. As part of Writers Week, Gavin Bishop delivered the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture as NZSA President of Honour to a full house at the City Gallery on Monday 10 March 2014. We organised several social events around these, including coffee before Jack Lasenby’s talk and a very convivial dinner on Monday night at Felix café, attended by Gavin and other NZSA and WCBA members. There were also a number of impromptu get-togethers before and after sessions.

On a sadder note, we were very sorry to hear of the sudden and unexpected death on Tuesday 25 March 2014 of Margaret Boon, wife of Wellington children's writer Kevin Boon. Margaret shared Kevin's enthusiasm for all things Katherine Mansfield-related; she volunteered at KM house, and helped with the KM walks around Thorndon that she and Kevin organised. Margaret's Requiem Mass was held at St Benedict's Parish Church, Khandallah, on Monday 31 March.

Awards and prizes
It’s great to see WCBA members and other local writers and illustrators shortlisted for a number of awards and prizes this year.

The Storylines Notable Books Lists for 2014 featured books by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins (A book is a book), Ruth Paul (Bad dog Flash), Chris Szekely and Andrew Burdan (Swim - the Story of Hinemoa & Tutanekai  and its te reo re-telling Tahoe - He Pakiwaitara mo Hinemoa raua ko Tutanekai), Juliette MacIver & Sarah Davis (Toucan can), Joy Cowley (Dunger), Philippa Werry (Lighthouse family), Mandy Hager (Dear Vincent), Elizabeth Knox (Mortal fire), Fleur Beale (Speed freak), ), Fifi Colston (Wearable wonders), Philippa Werry (Anzac Day) and Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud (In the garden.) Suzanne Main won the 2014 Tom Fitzgibbon award with her manuscript (intriguingly) titled How I Alienated my Grandma.

Wellington finalists for the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for Children and Young Adults included Juliette MacIver & Sarah Davis (Toucan can), Gay Hay & Margaret Tolland (Watch out, snail!), Fifi Colston (Wearable wonders), Philippa Werry (Anzac Day), Joy Cowley (Dunger), Fleur Beale (Speed freak) and Elizabeth Knox (Mortal fire).

LIANZA Book Awards local finalists include Mandy Hager (Dear Vincent), Joy Cowley (Dunger), Elizabeth Knox (Mortal fire), Fifi Colston (Wearable wonders) and Anzac Day (Philippa Werry).

New books and book launches
Some wonderful new books have appeared this year (we know that more are on the way!), and book launches have included:
·         (In Featherston) Hero of the hill by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic)
·         Watch out, snail! by Gay Hay, illustrated by Margaret Tolland (Page Break Ltd)
·         Baba Didi and the Godwits fly by Nicola Muir, illustrated by Annie Hayward (New Internationalist Publications Ltd)
·         Over the hill to Greytown by Tania Atkinson, ill by Viv Walker (Wai Art Press)
·         A book is a book by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (Gecko Press)
·         Lighthouse family by Philippa Werry (Scholastic)
·         Dappled Annie and the Tigrish by Mary McCallum (Gecko Press)
·         Mr Miniscule and the whale – a Polish children’s classic by Julian Tuwim (Book Island)
·         Night of the Perigee Moon by Juliet Jacka (Scholastic; winner of the Storylines  Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2013)
·         Lucy Bee and the secret gene by Anne Ingram (White Gull Press)
·         Best mates by Philippa Werry, illustrated by Bob Kerr (New Holland)
·         Mrs Mo’s monster by Paul Beavis (Gecko Press)
·         The red suitcase by Jill Harris (Mākaro Press)
·         Lost in the museum (Phoenix Writers)– a collection of stories by 15 authors, including Eileen Mueller.

Other amazing stuff!
We are impressed with all the amazing work (both paid and voluntary) being carried out by WCBA members, from judging awards to running workshops, helping out with the Kids Lit quiz and many other activities – as well as writing! These are some of the ones we are aware of:

·         Around the bookshops blog by Barbara Murison
·         The Blue Dragon fundraising book fairs run by Iona McNaughton and a team of helpers
·         Creative writing workshops run by Helen Fletcher
·         Johanna Knox is taking the Children’s Writing Workshop in Trimester 2 at VUW
·         Eileen Mueller is this year’s coordinator of the Storylines Wellington Family Day on 24 August (which sounds as if it’s going to be amazing!!!) 

Our membership year usually runs from 1 July to 30 June, but this year we are going to experiment with a “sub-free year” (given the amount of paperwork and time involved in administering and following up requests for payments.) So – no need to pay any sub this year, but you will continue to be on our mailing list.

The WCBA committee
Over the last few years our committee has got smaller as committee members have moved out of Wellington, or been busy with travel, family, work or other commitments and we would welcome anyone who would like to join us. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.

In March we sent out a survey to gauge interest in a possible conference/hui to be held next year. Thanks to all those who responded. We would also welcome help from anyone who would like to be involved with this.

As always, we are very grateful for the support provided by the wonderful Children’s Bookshop of Kilbirnie, who sell (and recommend!) our books and are always ready to host a book launch or other book-related events.  

Our current committee is:
Chair: Maureen Crisp 
Fleur Beale 
Johanna Knox 
Sabrina Malcolm 
Ruth and John McIntyre 
Anita Nalder 
Philippa Werry 

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

Have a look at this lovely article on the Unity Books website about the event they hosted on Friday 24 October (the day after the official award ceremony at Premier House) for the winners of the 2014 Prime Minister's Literary Awards: Jock Phillips (non fiction), Ian Wedde (poetry) and our very own WCBA patron, Jack Lasenby (fiction); as well as Elizabeth Knox, winner of the 2014 Michael King Fellowship.

Unity Books Wellington owner Tilly Lloyd & Jack Lasenby
Unity Books Wellington owner Tilly Lloyd & Jack Lasenby