Quick questions with Tania Roxborogh – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Tania Roxborogh is the author of novels for teenagers and children, plays for the classroom, Shakespearean texts, English grammar books, and adult non-fiction.

Tania Roxborogh
Tania Roxborogh. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I just love the weather – the sunny, sunny days. We moved from Dunedin at the beginning of the year and it has felt like the sun has shone most days. I was born in Ōtautahi but spent my childhood in the North Island. I returned to North Canterbury as a teen and worked in the city for a few years before heading north again for uni. Those Southern Alps welcome me and I never get sick of seeing them: they’re like a group of kaumātua huddled to the west keeping an eye on us all.

What do you think about libraries?

They are my favourite places: to study, to research, to ask librarians stuff (they are better than Google and with cooler clothes), to read, to write. When I was at intermediate, I made a goal for myself to read every fiction book in the library, starting from the As, before my two years were up. I succeeded and I discovered some amazing authors. I feel like librarians have this super power of being able to look into the hearts of we writers – they know our books therefore they know us!

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverLes Miserables by Victor Hugo. I’ve read it already and seen the musical three times and we have the music on tape. I’ve also see the film so I think I’d be in a treat of reliving a whole heap of wonderfulness as I re-read and wallow in the epic storytelling.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I have my motorbike license. I used to scuba dive; I once traveled from Waipara to Whangarei by train, ferry, train and bus with my cat. People often describe me as fearless and driven but my happiest place is at home, still in my PJs reading a book or watching a great TV series, drinking coffee and eating chocolate.

Tania Roxborogh appears in Making it Overseas, Sun 28 Aug, 3pm



The 2016 IBBY Congress comes to Auckland

From 18-21 August, New Zealand is hosting the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Congress. This event brings together people, from all over the world, who are passionate about bringing children and books together. Three of us from Christchurch City Libraries are extremely excited to be attending this important Congress in Auckland, the first time that it has been held in Australasia.

There will lots of great discussions about connecting children with books, especially in the digital age, as well as the world finals of the Kids Lit Quiz and the Hans Christian Anderson Awards Dinner. Attending these events is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and has been on my bucket-list for a while.

Cover of The book thiefThere is an incredible line-up of speakers including Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief), Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs, co-founder of Weta Workshop Sir Richard Taylor, children’s literature experts Julia Eccleshare and Leonard S. Marcus, and some of our best local authors and illustrators. I am especially looking forward to hearing from Julia Eccleshare and Leonard S. Marcus, who are both experts in the field of Children’s Literature and incredibly respected.

The Congress concludes with the Auckland Storylines Family Day, which gives children the chance to meet many of our best children’s authors and illustrators. There is a huge programme of activities for the day for families in Auckland. I will certainly be blogging like crazy to share my highlights of the IBBY Congress.

Here is what Kim and Dan, who are also attending, are looking forward to at the IBBY Congress:


Illustrated children’s books are a real passion and specialty area of interest of mine so attending IBBY is an exciting opportunity to see a wide array of international and Australasian authors and illustrators.

Cover of SmileI am especially looking forward to a session with author and illustrator Raina Telgemeier from the United States: ‘My Life is a Comic, and Comics Are My Life!’. As a fan of graphic novels, particularly autobiographical comics, I find they are a great way for beginner or reluctant readers to get hooked into reading. Raina’s autobiographical graphic novels about common experiences of growing up have struck a chord with readers world-wide. Her tales of woe negotiating life with siblings (rocky road trips, pesky pets and parents apart) in Sisters or having to endure years of dental work after an accident as a youngster in Smile resonate with many in her best-selling award-winning graphic novels, including Drama.

As a cartoonist she has reinvigorated Ann M. Martin’s classic Babysitter’s Club series as graphic novels.

Despite her stories being female perspectives on sisterhood and pre-teen life, my young son is a big fan of Raina’s (if I don’t get an autograph I’ll be in trouble).

Cover of The amazing adventures of Razza, the ratI am also curious to hear more about ‘Generation Alpha’ from Witi Ihimaera (that is, the generation of children born from 2010 growing up in the digital age) and its impact on storytelling, fitting with this year’s IBBY theme of ‘Literature in a Multi-Literate World.’ Adding to this, the author talks focusing on indigenous issues in the world of children’s books will be especially pertinent to New Zealand.

I am really looking forward to the library tour of various libraries throughout Auckland and getting great inspirational ideas to share with Christchurch City Libraries. Bookending IBBY is the annual Storylines Festival of New Zealand’s Writers and Illustrators Family Day, the largest children’s literacy festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere. which will offer a taster ahead of the Storylines Festival in Christchurch, 28 August,held at Upper Riccarton Library and which looks to to be a great lot of literary fun for the whole family with craft and activities, from figuring out how to fix a bike puncture, to author readings and performances. See the line-up of author appearances and other activities at the Storylines website and follow the Storylines Christchurch page on Facebook.


My objective for the conference is to gain exposure to many new ideas and current ways of thinking of how best to engage kids with reading, and about promoting literacy and recreational reading to young adults.

I am a strong advocate of recreational learning for all ages and will seek out inspiration from the conference, listening to the key note speakers, their ideas and experiences, and forming relationships with others from around New Zealand who are engaging in the same areas as myself (and all of us!).

I am particularly interested in the retention of traditional culture and depiction of traditional stories in modern formats to make the stories accessible to young people.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

  • Cover of Jane and the magician by Martin BaynonMeshack Asare: An Indigenous Literature in the Global Context
  • Leonard Marcus: Illustration Unbound: Narrative Art across Genres, Age
  • Sir Richard Taylor/Martin Baynton: Groups, Cultures, and from Paper to Pixels and Beyond, Stories on the screen
  • Raina Telgemeier: My Life is a Comic, and Comics Are My Life!
  • Witi Ihimaera: Storytelling in Generation Alpha

We’ll be bringing you more info about the IBBY Congress in the next couple of weeks, including Fast Five interviews with some of the speakers.

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Karawhiua

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Give it heaps! Give it all you got!

akina te reo rugby

Recent necrology, July 2016

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of The VisitorsSally Beauman, 1944-2016
    Author best known for her glamorous and racy romantic novel Destiny
  • Abbas Kiarostami, 1940-2016
    Iranian producer and director, screen writer, photographer
  • Tim LaHaye, 1926-2016
    Christian fundamentalist ‘rapture’ theologian
  • Garry Marshall, 1934-2016
    Writer, producer and director, creator of Happy Days
  • Cover of NightIan McDonald, 1937-2016
    New Zealand composer of avant-garde, electronic and computer music
  • Robert Nye, 1939-2016
    Novelist who wanted to be remembered for his poetry
  • Elie Wiesel, 1928-2016
    Romanian-born American Jewish writer, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate