In the Gecko Press Annual, released October, editors Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris reimagine an iconic book format for today’s young readers.
Annual is a 136-page miscellany of stories, comic strips, essays, satire, how-to’s, poems, games and puzzles aimed at 9-12 year olds – and their families.
“We wanted Annual to be a game changer in New Zealand publishing for children. Readers in this age group are smarter than ever and hungry for sophisticated, wide-ranging material,” says co-editor De Goldi.
“The classic annuals were popular for good reason,” says Paris. “The range of content means there’s something for every kind of child. And kids this age have time to read. It’s a critical window for the creation of a lifelong reader.”
Annual includes a dictionary of words to use on car trips, the Map of Misplacia, a maths- nerd’s memoir, an unlucky zebra and the Naked Grandmother board game, among the pieces especially commissioned from 41 New Zealand writers and illustrators.
De Goldi presented the idea to Gecko Press publisher Julia Marshall in 2014 and they wrote down key words on the back of a brown paper bag: anarchy, fun, intelligence, challenge, contemporary.
For Gecko Press, Annual offered a chance to contribute to building the next generation of
great New Zealand children’s writers.
“It is undeniable that there are now fewer platforms for local writers of children’s books. Also, this age group is increasingly important to us. We want to keep these children reading,” says Gecko Press publisher Julia Marshall.
In commissioning work from well-known children’s writers and writers for adults, and newcomers, the editors aimed to broaden the notion of who can write and illustrate for children.
Gecko Press, the editors and the contributors will be touring Annual round the country. Two events are scheduled in Wellington and Auckland before Christmas, with more planned next year.
Kate De Goldi is an award-winning writer and one of New Zealand’s best-known commentators on children’s literature, via her regular sessions on national radio and extensive visits to schools. She writes fiction for all ages and has published ten books. Her popular children’s books include Clubs, The 10pm Question, and From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle.
Susan Paris has fifteen years’ experience in publishing and ten years as editor of the School Journal. Under her stewardship, the School Journal has won Best Publication in New Zealand educational publishing three times. She has written more than forty chapter books for the educational market, both here and overseas.
Gecko Press, an independent publisher based in Wellington chooses the best children’s books from around the world, by internationally award-winning authors and illustrators. Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.