Melanie Koster lives in Christchurch with her husband, two children, two cats and one indestructible goldfish. Melanie works at a local primary school, where she enjoys helping young writers hone their craft. She also teaches a community ‘music and movement’ group for pre-schoolers, where she is often seen in piratical attire, wielding puppets and a ukulele.
Melanie is the author of two children’s books, The Reluctant Little Flower Girl (illustrated by Jenny Cooper, published by Mallinson Rendel in 2008) and Milly Maloo and the Miracle Glue (illustrated by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic NZ 2011).
The school where Melanie works, Russley School, won The Second Fabulous Poetry Competition this year, so I was keen to find out what Melanie liked to read as a child. She made this terrific snapshot of her reading life:
Where did you like to read? Anywhere and everywhere – in bed under the covers by torchlight, in the bath, at the beach.
What kind of books did you like to read? Anything with a dash of adventure and a sprinkling of magic.
What were your favourite books? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and the rest of the books in the Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis.
What did the library mean to you? I couldn’t believe you could walk out with so many books, all for free! I used to bike to the library and come home with the saddlebag stuffed full of books. Heaven!
Was there a book that stood out that a teacher read to you? A teacher gave me ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ by Michelle Magorian, when I was in hospital. I thought it was a wonderful book, and recently passed it on to my daughter to read, who also loves it.
Who hooked you on reading? My parents. My mother especially, always had her nose in a book.
Do you remember being read to? My parents read to me all the time, and both were experts at ‘doing the voices’. My Dad would also make up fantastic bedtime stories, often with dragons, witches and trolls. It’s a wonder I ever got to sleep at night!
Do you still read children’s books? Do you have a favourite this week? Yes, I read a lot of children’s books. I am currently reading James Norcliffe’s The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer. One of my recent favourites is Wonder by R.J. Palacio – it’s such an emotional, powerful story and I think everyone should read it! A favourite picture book is Margaret Mahy’s Keeping House – I can totally identify with poor Lizzie Firkin and definitely need a Robin Puckertucker to deal to my cupboards!
NOTE from Paula: I adore Wonder. I agree with Melanie; when you hit the right age as a child you should read this book. If someone had told me what it was about I might have thought it was not my cup of tea, but it is one the best books I have ever read. Actually, I have really loved these other two picks too!