Fast Five with Julia Eccleshare

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Cover of Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter: Potraits of children's writersToday’s featured speaker is children’s literature expert and reviewer Julia Eccleshare:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

IBBY Congresses are the most amazing places to explore the discuss the ways in which children’s literature is both culturally universal and specific. Four days of talking about children’s books with like-minded colleagues from around the world is one of the best ways of spending time!

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

The local library of my childhood was a wonderful treasure trove which we visited every week, swapping the little paper ticket for the magic of a book. It would look very old fashioned nowadays. And it smelt of floor polish.

What are 5 of your favourite books?

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff

Cover of The illustrated mumThe Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

The Arrivals by Shaun Tan

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

Working in a world full of imagination, hope and a largely benign and optimistic view of human nature and behaviour. Buried within their stories, children’s literature transmits values which will shape their lives. Every day I feel lucky and privileged to be part of that.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

Tell them stories, read them stories and encourage them to dream and wonder.

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Fast Five with Nadia Wheatley

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Today’s featured speaker is Australian author Nadia Wheatley:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

Meeting fellow authors, illustrators, readers and book-lovers from around the world.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

I don’t have early memories of going to libraries and borrowing books because when I was growing up in the 1950s there weren’t many municipal libraries in Australia, and my school didn’t have a library until towards the end of my secondary years. However, my mother’s best friend from her childhood was the librarian in charge of a major library in the centre of Sydney, and sometimes we would pay her a visit when we went into town. Although my mother had been a nurse and she had many nursing colleagues who were still working, this librarian was the first woman I knew who had a professional office job. I always loved going to the library and seeing Auntie O (as I called her) sitting behind a big desk, surrounded by books.

What are 5 of your favourite books?

Impossible to choose only five favourite books, but here are some, in the order I read them:

Cover of Pippi LongstockingPippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren): This book provided a model of a happy orphan when my mother died, when I was nine years old.

Middlemarch (George Eliot): This was our set text in English when I was fifteen. I think it was the first really grown-up book I read.

Cover of The making of the English working classThe Making of the English Working Class (E.P. Thompson): I read this in 1968, when I was getting involved in radical politics. It helped me decide to become a historian.

The Member of the Wedding (Carson McCullers): My favourite book about what it means to be a misfit.

The Vivisector (Patrick White): My favourite book about about what it means to be an artist.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

The friendship of my fellow book-makers and book-lovers.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

My general advice would be to read aloud to children, even when they are able to read for themselves. I also think of a phrase used by British novelist and critic, Aiden Chambers. He referred to what he called ‘the enabling adult’: the person (parent, teacher, librarian, friend) who introduces a particular book to a child, and helps her find her way into it. I remember that Aiden also once said to me that every time we read a new book, we need to learn how to read it. I think some wonderful books do need someone to introduce them to their readership.

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Fast Five with Gavin Bishop

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Gavin BishopToday’s featured speaker is award-winning New Zealand author Gavin Bishop:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

I have been privileged to visit many other countries to talk about my work and have always been looked after well. It is my turn now to make the visitors to the New Zealand IBBY Congress feel welcome. I have also been involved through the Painted Stories Trust with mounting an exhibition of NZ illustration for the IBBY Congress. This will be an exciting show featuring 20 of our top illustrators.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

I love to visit a library with no idea in my mind of what I want to read. I wander along the shelves waiting for something to catch my eye. Suddenly a title, or a particular cover design shouts at me. This is one I will take out to read today.

Cover of Snake and lizardWhat are 5 of your favourite books?

  1. Moa by Quinn Berentson
  2. Cole’s Funny Picture Book No 1
  3. Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley
  4. The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
  5. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave. A thriller set in Christchurch. Rather nasty but exciting and not for children.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

I enjoy the support you get as a writer for children. The world of children’s literature is a very encouraging and nurturing one on the whole.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

Read to them from the time they are babies. Make books part of their lives. Throw books into the toy box or into the doll’s pram or the back of a trike.

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Kōrerorero mai – Join the conversation

Fast Five with Leigh Hobbs

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Today’s featured speaker is the current Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

I’m looking forward to meeting others as involved and enthusiastic about the world of children’s books as I am.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

My favourite memory of Libraries is as a sort of safe haven when I was a child at school, where I could pore over books to ‘my hearts content’ – as they say…

What are 5 of your favourite books?

My favourite books are:

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

What I love most about the world of children’s Literature is feeling that I am, to a small degree,  a contributor to that wonderful unbridled world which is the child’s imagination.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

I think the most important thing that adults can do to encourage a child to read is to expose them to a broad range of books, not just ‘story books’, or ‘children’s books’.

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Fast Five with Ursula Dubosarsky

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Today’s featured speaker is Australian author Ursula Dubosarsky:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

Spending time with book lovers, readers, writers, listening to the presentations in all their glittering variety!  – and catching up with old friends especially.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

The local library always felt to me like another room in my home – as I child I felt it was a place I belonged, without question. Just walking into the library made me feel excited, thinking of all the things inside that I would soon be able to take off the shelf to take home and read.

What are 5 of your favourite books?

Cover of An episode of sparrowsAn Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden (children’s novel)

Come by Chance by Madeleine Winch (picture book)

Washington Square by Henry James (adult novel)

Horizon by Patrick Modiano (adult novel)

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym (adult novel)

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

Too hard a question! I can’t extricate the world of children’s literature from my personality…

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

Well to be perfectly honest I would say TAKE THEM TO THE LIBRARY. That’s how a child will become a reader. No child is going to become a reader by being given a book as a present from time to time – they will become a reader by massive exposure to all kinds of books, which is only possible really in a library. Go into the library every week, let the child pick three or four books themselves, then you pick a few too. Then take them home and READ them. Some the child will like, some they won’t like. That’s the whole idea – by reading and loving or reading and discarding a wide variety of books they will develop their own taste, a sense of judgement, a knowledge of what books can do. I am a total public library FREAK, frankly. (!)

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Fast Five with Kate De Goldi

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Kate De GoldiThe first featured speaker is award-winning New Zealand author Kate De Goldi:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

I’m looking forward very much to hearing a range of speakers from different literary communities and cultures – hearing about the strengths and deficits in their communities in terms of bringing children and books together. It’s a rare opportunity to hear a number of commentators who have immersed themselves in children’s literature and the reading life of children, so there’s sure to be much to learn.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

My ur-library was the old Christchurch City Library on the corner of Hereford Street and Oxford Terrace. I spent countless hours there as a child and learned the great pleasure of browsing the shelves, finding old, loved books to reread, but always happening on something new, too, which would often take my reading in another direction. For me, still, there is nothing to rival the pleasure of an unhurried browse of library shelves and a tall pile of books gathered to take home from the library.

Entrance, old Library
Entrance, old Library [1970s] Flickr File Reference: CCL-150-T-028

Perhaps my favourite memory of that old library was the upstairs reading room where I often took myself (instead of to school) during my seventh form year – and read all manner of unexpected things. In my memory that time and space is associated with intellectual expansion and wonderment – but also a sense of security and uninterrupted self-directed learning.

For the last twenty years the Wellington libraries have been my favourite city spaces, particularly Wellington Central. I have never lost the feeling of cresting excitement when I walk through the automatic doors and into that fabulous abundance of books, of unending potential…

What are 5 of your favourite books?

I read very widely in adult literature and have many favourites, but I’ll confine myself to children’s books for this. These five books are ones I frequently re-read – my criteria for a favourite book.

1.      cover of Ounce, dice, triceOunce, dice, trice by Alistair Reid; drawings by Ben Shahn. The New York Review Children’s Collection.

This book is like a visit to a glorious circus – where words dance, fly, juggle and tumble. It’s a celebration of the wildness and wonder of language at play.

2.      Cover of FrederickFrederick by Leo Lionni; Dragonfly Books

I love all Leo Lionni’s work but especially this timeless fable about the great importance of those who – while seeming idle – are closely observing the world, then giving it back to us as poetry

3.      Cover of The red shoeThe Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky; Allen & Unwin

I admire Dubosarsky’s work enormously. This is an eerie modern fairytale in which a family three sisters watch – and often misinterpret – the strange goings-on between the important adults in their life. Viewed through the eyes of six year old Matilda, this haunting story reminds us how very differently the young see the world unfolding around them.

4.     Cover of The one and only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate; HarperCollins

A life-changing book: Ivan, a silverback gorilla, narrates the story of his captivity and work in a circus mall; with tender voice and images of great beauty, he helps the reader to understand properly the nobility of all living creatures, and the urgent need for kindness to the most vulnerable.

5.      Cover of The other side of silenceThe other side of silence by Margaret Mahy; HarperCollins

I think this is the greatest of Mahy’s many splendid novels. Using the elements of a lesser known Grimm tale, ‘Jorinda and Jorindel’ – thick forest, old castle, shape-changing witch, innocent maiden, adventurous young man, captive birds – Mahy weaves a profound and moving – and thoroughly contemporary – story about the riddle of parenting, the manipulation of children, the vanity attendant on talent, the complex responsibilities of the writer, the frailties and possibilities inherent in being human. Somewhere in the RNZ archive there is a most wonderful audio of Bronwyn Bradley reading the book aloud.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

I greatly value a body of literature that has the young eye at the heart of its story telling and exploration of language. It is so good to be reminded again and again (as an adult) what it is like to be new to the world, to be decoding everything around you in order to understand what it is to be human. I deeply appreciate, too, that the very best of children’s writers deepen and expand the form in which they work, offering subtle, nuanced, complex literature to young readers, a literature where story, character, language and moral complexity is rendered as artfully as in any literary form. Many people immersed in the world of children’s literature – writers, critics, academics, readers – have an acute recall of what it is like to be a child. It is not that they are arrested developmentally, more that this part of life is still very present to them, so that their young eye is still working to a high level. I really like meeting people like that!

What you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

I think reading oneself – ie, modeling reading to the ever-alert child – is a fundamental requirement. You are demonstrating to children that a fully rounded life includes an sustained reading life.

I think reading aloud to children as far into their school years as possible is very important too. It can tide them over their own reading humps or resistances and bring them to more and more sophisticated story.

Thirdly, ensuring that the local library is a regular and enjoyable part of a child’s life – allowing them to feel that the library is a second home – an astonishing resource in their lives, allowing them to experience the unhurried pleasure of browsing and taking risks with books, allowing them to make friends with librarians. It’s good to own books, of course (if you are able) – particularly for re-reading which I think is an important part of a reading life. But the library’s resources are deeper and more vast than any bookshop’s so it’s an even more important place for the reading life.

Lastly, I would suggest that we need to listen to what our children’s reading interests really are – and validate them, while continuing to provide a range of possibilities. A Lego instruction sheet is a reading experience. A picture book is always a good thing no matter your age. And there’s always room for airheaded series books, too. A thorough reading life for a child will always have dross as well as pearls.

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