Mimi Kiwi – in Inspector Flytrap

inspectorflytrapInspector Flytrap in The Da Vinci Cold (2016)
by Tom Angleberger & Cece Bell

A kiwi in a mystery… How curious!

Written and illustrated by the talented and prolific husband and wife team of Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell, Inspector Flytrap is a series of books about a flytrap trying to become the greatest detective that ever ‘grew.’ This means he hasn’t got time for small-fry mysteries to solve – he only handles ‘Big Deal’ mysteries. He is accompanied by his helpful/unhelpful assistant Nina the Goat who eats everything, unfortunately. It is hard to be incognito when you have to cart around goat-proof gadgets.

Their first big mystery sends them to a top secret art lab to help some art scientists get some perspective. Case quickly closed. And then he meets “a really grumpy rat” – Mimi Kiwi. When one of her flowers goes missing, Mimi tries to enlist the help of Inspector Flytrap…

“I know what you’re thinking, Mr. Flytrap! Well, I’m not a rat. I’m a kiwi. Mimi Kiwi.”
“Hello, Mimi Kiwi,” I said. “I am Inspector Flytrap… I’m sorry I thought you were a rat.”
“Hmmph,” said the really grumpy kiwi.
“What’s a kiwi?” I asked.
“DUH!” said Mimi Kiwi. “I am.”

It was quite a surprise to stumble over a kiwi in this kid’s book since it’s published in America, so I talked to the author Tom Angleberger all the way in the USA to find out what inspired his Mimi Kiwi character.

Tom said:
I’m so glad you enjoyed the kiwi in our story…. even if she was rather rude! I’ve been fascinated with kiwis since I was a kid. My first exposure might have been a book called “Birds do the Strangest Things”. Not only are they interesting birds, but that name: kee wee! It’s fun to say! …Plus it’s short and this is a book for easy readers!

When Cece went to draw the pictures for the book, she must have looked at photos of kiwis and thought the wings were just hard to see…. because for a while Mimi Kiwi had wings! When I told Cece that kiwis are wingless then she had to figure out how to draw one DRIVING a truck! That’s not easy, but Cece is the greatest so she figured it out!

goatwhochewedMimi Kiwi makes a return in the third book in the series Inspector Flytrap: The Goat Who Chewed Too Much – out now.

The books in this series make for a snappy read (pun intended), punctuated with one-page comics throughout. Ideal for ages 6-9.

Other comics by the duo include Cece’s Rabbit & Robot and comic El Deafo and Tom’s Origami Yoda Book series

Don’t be afraid to contact an author or illustrator you admire and make a connection – you might just solve a mystery!

Still a Good Keen Man

Book coverA Good Keen Man turns 50 next year and there’ll be a commemorative edition of Barry Crump’s celebrated book published to mark the occasion. Barry himself might have preferred ripping the scab off a few tinnies whilst bubbling up a stew on the campfire, but you can’t hunt a pig in deer country, eh?

Crump isn’t the sort of writer who makes it on to book lists for courses about New Zealand literature, but he remains one of our highest-selling authors. The tales of quirky characters and colourful yarns that started Crump’s writing career still have nuggets of Kiwi-ness in them and are well worth revisiting.

I spoke with Martin Crump, Barry’s son, this week. His voice boomed like a car-load of kakapo on a night out, and I could tell he was no stranger to spinning a yarn or two of his own.

Yet he didn’t. We talked about the book,  how he had to “share” his father; meeting one of his brothers for the first time at his dad’s funeral, that kind of thing, as well as how some of the books and tales came about. Keep an eye out for the full interview on the library website.

I found that despite the many things that didn’t work out so well in Barry Crump’s life, what survives for Martin, and for all of us,  is the power of the humble story, the joy of telling and sharing, and the fact even the most Kiwi of blokes could write with a deft touch.

So don’t judge the book by stereotypes of its author. Read A Good Keen Man if you haven’t, or try some of the other 30-odd titles that Crump penned. With the movie version of Wild Pork and Watercress in the wings (Taika Waititi at the helm) you can expect Crump to be a name that lives on for generations to come.

A treasure trove of Kiwi music

The Verlaines and The Clean returnBeing a librarian means that you get to see a lot of books, particularly new ones.  It’s not every day that you audibly gasp with delight when a new book falls into your hands but it happened today.  The little black Kiwi songbook is the just about the best thing since sliced Vogels. 

Why the excitement?  Well, it has the chords and lyrics to over 120 classic kiwi songs of the pub-rock variety and features many songs from APRA’s top 100 New Zealand songs of all time.  Songs from The Clean, Dave Dobbyn, the Finns (in various incarnations), Scribe, Opshop and The Exponents are all included.  It’s an absolute must for budding buskers or summer party guitarists.  Grab this and the Outrageous Fortune soundtrack and you’ll be in full Kiwi party mode in time for Christmas.