Friday, April 13, 2007

Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators

This release this morning from those good folks at the Storylines Festival.

Top international writers and illustrators have been be confirmed for the 14th annual Storylines Festival, around New Zealand from 5-10 June.

Australian maestro of the graphic novel, Shaun Tan, and talented UK children’s writer Mal Peet, are international special guests in a line-up that includes around 50 of New Zealand’s leading children’s writers, illustrators, storytellers and performers.

Irish writer John Boyne, internationally acclaimed author of best-selling novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is the latest big name to be announced. He topped charts last year with a novel about nine-year-old Bruno who knows nothing of the Holocaust or the Final Solution when he befriends a boy in striped pyjamas living on the other side of a wire fence. The novel leapt genres to be published in both a children’s and an adult’s edition. It won two Irish Book Awards and has been shortlisted for many other prestigious literary awards across England, Europe and the United States. It is currently being turned into a film.

The term picture book doesn’t come close to describing the fantasy world of Shaun Tan’s graphic novels. Tan describes his work as ‘picture books for older readers’, with complex visual styles and themes, including colonial imperialism, social apathy and the nature of memory and depression.

Mal Peet recalls a childhood centred on his bike, books and football. He only became a writer once he had children of his own. “I truly believe there are few things more important than sharing stories with your children. Heaped into a big, deep chair, doing the voices, discussing the pictures…You start to understand why certain books work and others don’t.”

The Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators gives children a chance to meet the people behind some of their favourite books at free Family Days at the Wellington Town Hall, Puke Ariki in New Plymouth, and for the first time ever in Kerikeri, all on Saturday 9 June, and Auckland’s Aotea Centre on Sunday 10 June.

Last year’s free Family Day at the Aotea Centre in Auckland drew more than 20,000 people, with a growing fan base of thousands of children and their families attending events in other centres.

“This is a chance for kids to meet their literary heroes and discover new ones, to hear their favourite writers talking about and reading their work, to have their books signed and to participate in workshops designed to inspire the writers and illustrators of the future,” says festival manager Crissi Blair.

Performers and storytellers add to the excitement, with an illustrator’s gallery providing an opportunity to see first-hand how the professionals create their pictures for children’s books, and to encourage visitors to have a go themselves.

Adult fans and aspiring writers also have their chance to meet and hear Shaun Tan, Mal Peet (and John Boyne in Christchurch) at the Heritage Hotels Seminar Series run in conjunction with the Storylines Festival in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

For more details about the Storylines Festival or to arrange interviews or images of any of our international or New Zealand guests, please contact festival manager Crissi Blair on
Storylines can introduce you to participating children’s book writers and illustrators living in your circulation area, or further afield.

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