It’s raining Raina

CoverIt seems apt to be writing about American cartoonist Raina Telgemeier’s latest graphic novel Ghosts (released September 2016) after a night or two of ‘dark and stormy’ wild weather across the country. I lay in bed snuggled up with my children to keep warm, making up spooky stories to tell them as the wind lashed the trees. It was the kind of weather that gets one imagining something eerie in the air… like ghosts, perhaps.

Ghosts is a little bit different from Raina’s previous, award-winning, autobiographical graphic novels Smile (2010) and Sisters (2014). For fans expecting another story from her real life, she points out this is her first true fiction story “not at all based on real stuff.”

However it does similarly revolve around two sisters:

Eleven-year-old Catrina and her family are moving to the small coastal town of Bahía de la Luna because her younger sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends, but she tries not to complain because she knows Maya will benefit from the clean, cool air that blows in from the sea. As the girls settle in, they learn there’s something a little spooky about their new town…

Have a peek at an excerpt of Ghosts set in the missions of foggy northern California and during the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos).

As a fan of graphic novels, especially autobiographical comics, it was exciting to meet Raina and hear her speak at the recent International Board for Books and Young People Congress (IBBY), held in Auckland in August 2016.

CoverRaina’s illustrated stories of her life growing up appeal to 7, 17 and 37 year-olds alike. I thought it was curious that my copy of Raina’s book Smile had gone missing from my bedside table one night and when I went to check on my young son, supposedly asleep in bed, I found he had taken it and was totally absorbed and asking for more – I suspect it was the smiley face on the cover that attracted him. He quickly became a big fan of Raina’s despite the content of her books being from a female perspective and about sisterhood and female friendships. This is a great reminder not to gender stereotype readers’ interests.

Moreover, graphic novels are a great hook for reluctant readers. I like to think of Raina’s comics as ‘gateway graphic novels’ and wanted to meet Raina partly just to thank her for really igniting my son’s reading. I also blame Raina for my son wanting a pet fish (her fish poo scene had him in hysterics) as well as his first iPod for his birthday (just like her character in Sisters, although in her case it was a cassette player, being the 1980s). Happy Birthday son – you’re also getting Ghosts for your birthday too!

American cartoonist Raina Telgemeier
American cartoonist Raina Telgemeier at IBBY Congress 2016, Auckland. Flickr 2016-08-19-Raina-Telgmeier-speaking

Raina’s talk at the IBBY Congress My life as a Comic and Comics are my life

The title of Raina’s talk at the IBBY Congress My Life as a Comic and Comics are My Life highlights how interchangeable these two aspects are for her. Indira Neville, from the National Library of New Zealand in Auckland – and a cartoonist in her own right – introduced Raina by acknowledging her impact on making a greater space for women in comics. Raina then talked about her influences on her comic-making as a child.

Early influences

Raina shared her early influences and inspirations as a child growing up in the 1980s in America (like me) such as the Care Bears, the Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake and Scooby Doo cartoons. Perhaps a reminder not to write off children’s seemingly vacuous television viewing. She was talking about my childhood too! She also highly rates the comic series Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Waterson and Bone by Jeff Smith as both being important in her becoming a cartoonist.

Raina was also a huge fan of realistic fiction such as that of Judy Blume and of Beverly Cleary and her stories of sisters Beezus and Ramona. Raina was interested in what kids her age were doing and was enamoured with For Better and for Worse by Lynn Johnston – in this comic strip the characters grew up every year alongside her and her family in real life so they felt like friends or neighbours to Raina and for her, lives blurred between reality and comics – much like her own work does.

CoverCoverCoverCover

Growing Up

CoverA seminal comic she received was from her father, Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa, which ends with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. She said she cried for two days after the ending and was fascinated with how “comics can make you feel a huge emotional response” – this resonated with her from a young age. She credits Barefoot Gen with waking her up to the power of storytelling.

“Comics can make you feel a huge emotional response.”

Another spark was a 1st grade teacher who set a year long assignment of diary writing where the teacher would write back and forth to the students in diaries they were keeping. Raina helped illustrate her school annuals and yearbooks and she kept an illustrated journal all through school and college, drawing her day in a visual diary. She still keeps a weekly comic diary. She says “all my influences get chucked into a blender and what comes out is my own original work.”

Making It

Raised in San Francisco, Raina went to the School of Visual Arts in New York, “having been enamoured with the city due to shows like Sesame Street”, and there she studied illustration and comic-making. She made mini-comics “back in the pre-internet days” and distributed about 7,000 copies of her her mini-comic ‘Take-out’ (7 issues, 12-pages black and white). She sold them for a whopping $1 a piece and would be thrilled when she received a cheque for $2.50 for selling a few comics. Her advice at the conference on how to get good at drawing comics? “Trace and copy is a great way to learn how to make shapes.” Simple as that.

CoverRaina frequented comic conventions to promote her work and was approached at one by Scholastic Book Group, who were kicking off Graphix – an imprint of Scholastic. Raina had only done short comics up to that point so wasn’t sure what to do for a larger book so they asked her what she really liked reading herself as a kid. Answer: The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin, which just happened to be in Scholastic stable of books and wow, two weeks later she had a book contract to illustrate the beloved series. She lifts the dialogue straight from the books and each of the four books took a year to make. Initially in black and white they have been reprinted in colour and since then have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list (colour sells!) She says she can see herself across several characters in The Baby-Sitter’s Club but Kristy is her favourite and of course the character in her comics she can relate to the most is herself… She went on to write and illustrate several graphic novels about her experiences growing up, also published by Scholastic.

Smile

CoverWarning: Contains graphic content (of a dental nature)
Smile (2010) depicts the aftermath of an incident that led to Raina having her teeth reconstructed between the ages of 11-15, after falling over and damaging her permanent front teeth. This was a very self-conscious time of life and her graphic novel lays bare these awkward years and the accompanying bullying as well. There is something innocent and wholesome about Raina’s stories and she comes across as cheerful but there were certainly no smiles when she presented a photo in her talk of her gruesome dental files from this time period. Set in the time covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, Raina says in Smile: “I survived a major earthquake. I guess in the grand scheme of things losing a couple of teeth isn’t the end of the world.”

Sisters

CoverSisters (2014) was based on one panel in Smile about a family road trip and delves into the relationship with her younger sister Amara and wider family dynamics many readers will relate to.

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, when something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all…
Present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

What’s the drama with Drama?

CoverAfter the dramas in Smile came the real Drama (2012). Set in middle school years, partly Raina’s intent with Drama was to honour the technical people who do the work behind the scenes in school drama and stage productions (as opposed to the select few who make it on stage). Drama is a homage to these friendships and the camaraderie that occurs between them. In the story are twin boys who are gay, just like her best friends were at school. On the controversy of having young gay students depicted in Drama, she says she is pleased Scholastic backed her and notes her based-on-a-true story graphic novel is actually indicative of the real world compared to fantasy-driven comics which get less questioned. Moreover she says:

“I hear from kids thanking me for validating their existence.”

This I think is the essence of what makes her work so popular among readers young and old alike – they can find themselves in her stories: in the sibling spats, in the humiliating experiences, negotiating friendships and in the minutiae of school and home life.

What other comics and books does Raina recommend for readers who love her graphic novels?

She gave special mention in her presentation to:
El Deafo (2014) by Cece Bell Raina rates it as: “The best middle grade memoir about hearing loss you will ever read.” Okay, it may be the only one.
Roller Girl (2015) by Victoria Jamieson. A graphic novel adventure about a girl who discovers roller derby right as she and her best friend are growing apart.
Sunny Side Up (2015) by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. From the brother-and-sister creators of Babymouse, Sunny Side Up follows the lives of kids whose older brother’s delinquent behaviour has thrown their family into chaos.

CoverCoverCover

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More

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’.

More

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. (!)

More

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.

More

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:

Kim

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.

Dan

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.