Note from Paula: I love this book so what a treat to hear Melinda read it.
You can hear other New Zealand children’s authors reading poems in my audio spots: look in the side bar under audio spot or for David Hill, Kyle Mewburn, Apirana Taylor, Fifi Colston, Elena de Roo, Janice Marriot, Bill Nagelkirke, Stephanie Mayne, Renee Liang and James Brown. You can also find Barbara Else reading her piece on Selina Tusitala Marsh, our Poet Laureate.
Born in Auckland, Melinda Szymanik still lives there with her family, writing picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults. A science graduate, Melinda initially worked in hospital administration, then went back to university to study literature and began writing seriously when her children were small. Several of her books have been shortlisted or won awards in New Zealand and overseas, and her short stories have appeared in trade and educational publications in New Zealand and Australia.
She is a regular ‘writers in schools’ visitor, was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, and has appeared at writers festivals across New Zealand. She teaches creative writing workshops for adults and children, blogs on writing and is one of ten New Zealand writers who run an innovative online writing experiment for children called FABO Story.
A complete list is available on her blog
The Were-Nana, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic NZ, 2008, (Out of Print).
The House That Went to Sea, illus. Gabriella Klepatski, Duck Creek Press, 2011.
While You Are Sleeping, illus. Greg Straight, Duck Creek Press, 2013.
The Song of Kauri, illus. Dominique Ford, Scholastic NZ, 2014.
This piece from Emma Neale is a joy, a delight, to read.
It took me back to reading to my girls and how much I still love children’s books.
What does ‘story time’ look like at your house?
Story time happens wherever you can fit a boy, a parent and a book. Although our youngest reads to himself often, he still likes to be read to while he’s in the bath; or in bed; or in the living-room on the couch; or in the shared adult bed; or lying under the trampoline with the pet rabbit, as the rabbit trains for the Guinness Book of World Records’ Fastest Grass Nibbler 2018. Occasionally, if our eldest, Abe (16), has had a particularly rough day, he’ll quietly sidle up and listen momentarily, too.’
The Mapmakers’ Race, Eirlys Hunter, Gecko Press, 2018
The Mapmakers’ Race is a glorious read.
If you are looking for a story that ripples with imagination and sings in the ear because it is so beautifully written, this your perfect holiday read. I adore it.
The Santander family is an adventurous family and they are hoping to go on The Great Map Race to win lots of money. But the father is mysteriously not back from exploring and the mother got left behind in a train mishap.
So it is up to the four children to get to the finishing line first (it takes a month) and chart the best train route through treacherous terrain.
Most of the other teams are so greedy to win they will do anything to get there. Villainous!
Once I started reading this book, I didn’t want to stop. I loved the characters and their special skills, especially the way Francie draws the maps for the train routes by seeing everything from above. She doesn’t talk but she has a special sight skill that drains her rather perilously at times.
I also grew very fond of young Beckett who drove them in a horse and trap to the race meeting. He ended up travelling with them because he wanted the train route to go through his neglected village. He turned out to be a godsend because he made their food supplies stretch further in the most delicious ways.
Plus there are the bonus little stories that get told to Humphrey, the youngest sibling, to soothe him. Oh and the mechanical horses that belong to another team!
This book, like Barbara Else’s magnificent Travelling Restaurant series, is set to become a classic because it has all the ingredients that make a story shine: suspense, tricky situations, learning curves, real things shifted a little by an agile imagination, fascinating places and equally fascinating characters.
I was sorry when the book ended but I spotted a launch point for a sequel. Fingers crossed!
Congratulations Eirlys Hunter on this must-read book.
A pop-up challenge: if you read this book and love it, I am happy to post some letters or reviews by children on my blog. email@example.com