Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Storylines Festival June 2007

The Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators once again brings more than 50 writers, illustrators and storytellers directly in touch with children and their families.
The 14th annual Storylines Festival, from 5-10 June this year, is a highlight of the New Zealand literary calendar. Fabulous books, their creators and a wide variety of performers entertain, educate and enthral thousands of children, family members, teachers and librarians, during the week-long festival.
International guests joining New Zealand children’s literary heroes for the festival are: Carnegie Medal winner (for his young adult novel Tamar) Mal Peet from the United Kingdom; and Australian Shaun Tan, celebrated creator of sophisticated picture books such as CBCA Honour Books The Red Tree and The Lost Thing, and, most recently, a wordless graphic novel about immigration, The Arrival.
Huge free family days will bring the excitement of books and reading alive in Puke Ariki in New Plymouth, the Wellington Town Hall, Kerikeri Primary School (for the first time) and the Aotea Centre, THE EDGE® in Auckland. Each venue will have readings, activities, performances, face painting – and the opportunity to meet the authors and illustrators. Themes include fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, picture books for young and old, and novels for juniors and young adults. Activities include everything from book making to calligraphy, puppet making to story writing and story telling.
Says festival manger Crissi Blair: ‘As well, there are story tours which take a dozen New Zealand authors, illustrators and storytellers into schools and early childhood centres throughout the Auckland region and in Whangarei and Kerikeri. We’ve lined up award-winning participants including Gavin Bishop, Vince Ford, David Elliot, Lorraine Orman and Moira Wairama (whose Joy Cowley Award-winning book The Puppet Box will be launched at Auckland Family Day), so we know the kids who are lucky enough to have a visit will be totally enthralled.
‘And in Auckland, in venues from Albany to Manurewa, we’re having workshops to foster writing and illustration skills, with experienced authors and illustrators sharing their professional skills.
‘As well as these student-focused activities, the Heritage Hotels Seminar Series hosts the festival’s two international guests, Shaun Tan and Mal Peet, in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, where they’ll entertain and inform adult children’s literature enthusiasts and professionals discussing the theme of Story is a Place. The seminar series sold out last year, and the same is expected this year for these highly acclaimed speakers.’
Storylines Festival is a once-a-year opportunity for children and their families to come face to face with the people who create the books they love. For more information about participating authors and illustrators and details about events, see or email


For further information, images, or to arrange interviews with Storylines Festival participants contact:
Crissi Blair
Phone 09 836 1261, Mobile 021 163 2496

Additional Information

Schedule of dates and events
Tuesday 5 June Participants gathering
Wednesday 6 June Auckland seminar, preceded by welcome & cocktail party for sponsors, funders, participants and volunteers
Auckland Story Tour (2 vans) begins
Thursday 7 June Northland Story Tour (1 van) begins
Christchurch seminar
Friday 8 June Wellington seminar
Story Tours finish
Saturday 9 June Wellington Family Day
New Plymouth Family Day
Northland Family Day (Kerikeri)
Auckland workshops
Sunday 10 June Auckland Family Day
Kids’ Lit Quiz final

Participants (list correct as at 27 February 2007)
Auckland Free Family Day
Shaun Tan (author/illustrator)
Mal Peet (author)
Margaret Mahy (author)
Lorraine Orman (author)
Kelly Gardiner (author)
Maria Gill (author)
Bill Nagelkerke (author)
David Elliot (author/illustrator)
Paula Green (poet)
Daryl Crimp (author/illustrator)
Samer Hatem (illustrator)
Lamia Aziz (illustrator)
Gavin Bishop (author/illustrator)
Bruce Potter (illustrator)
Lindy Fisher (illustrator)
Miranda Harcourt (author)
Sandra Morris (illustrator)
Helen Bacon (illustrator/storyteller/puppeteer)
Moira Wairama (storyteller/author)
Tony Hopkins (storyteller)
Martin Baynton (author/illustrator)
Tessa Duder (author)
Zak Waipara (illustrator)
Vince Ford (author)
Tanya Batt (storyteller/author)
Star Fish (performers)
PERFORM (educational theatre group)

New Plymouth Free Family Day
Ruth Paul (author/illustrator)
Margaret Beames (author)
Katerina Mataira (author)
Janice Marriott (author)
Jill Marshall (author)
Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)
Sunset (illustrator)
Apirana Taylor (storyteller)

Wellington Free Family Day
Shaun Tan (author/illustrator)
Ben Galbraith (author/illustrator)
Ben Brown (author)
Helen Taylor (illustrator)
Miranda Harcourt (author)
Tessa Duder (author)
Fifi Colston (author/illustrator)
Gillian & Darryl Torckler (author/photographer)
PERFORM (educational theatre group)

Heritage Hotels Seminar Series
Mal Peet (UK author)
Shaun Tan (Australian author/illustrator)
Auckland Chair – Bill Nagelkerke
Christchurch Chair – Trevor Agnew
Wellington Chair – To be confirmed

Story Tour Auckland
Lorraine Orman (author)
Maria Gill (author)
Bill Nagelkerke (author)
David Elliot (author/illustrator)
Daryl Crimp (author/illustrator)
Gavin Bishop (author/illustrator)
Bruce Potter (illustrator)
Moira Wairama (storyteller/author)
Tony Hopkins (storyteller)
Helen Bacon (illustrator/storyteller/puppeteer)

Story Tour Northland & Kerikeri Family Day
Paula Green (poet)
Zak Waipara (illustrator)
Vince Ford (author)

Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand

The Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand is the charitable trust which supports and promotes reading, literacy and children’s literature in New Zealand. It was established and is supported by Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation, an organisation comprised of dedicated professionals in the fields of reading, publishing and literacy who work tirelessly, largely in a voluntary capacity, for children’s literature in New Zealand. (The Children’s Literature Foundation Inc was established in 2000 following the amalgamation of the Children’s Literature Association and the Children’s Book Foundation, both long-standing organisations that promoted literature to children and their families.)


With the Black Caps leaving New Zealand today to head for the West Indies where they will compete for the World Cup of Cricket it is timely to mention a most charming book on the subject of cricket.
Harry Ricketts, a professor in the English department at Victoria University, has been playing, watching and reading about cricket since he was a kid and his deep love and knowledge of the game shine through in this entertaining and most stylish volume.
It is another in The Ginger Series from the small Wellington publishing house, Awa Press, which punches well above its weight.
Every question you have ever asked about this confusing and beguiling game is answered. Even the LBW rules now make sense to me!

I read the latest issue from cover to cover last evening and there were three things in particular I wanted to note:


This is their impressive new website that enables one to search the Metro database for restaurant & bar reviews as well as a guide to what's happening in the city. Well worth a visit.

2.Useless information, but fascinating all the same:

9 million - the number of persons who visited St.Luke's Mall in 2006. I was not among them.

3.Go wireless in Parnell

An advertisement in the Urban Living Directory on page 111 stopped me in my tracks.

Parnell is the first business area in Auckland offering free wireless Internet access. Ask for access password at shops or cafes and check out your e-mails over your flat white.

This is a great development provided by Parnell Mainstreet Inc an association of more than 400 Parnell Road and Parnell Rise businesses.
I offer my congratulations to them on this initiative.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


This from the Guardian.
At 72 years of age Philip Roth is still winning awards, this time for his slender, bleak tale, Everyman.

Penguin USA - US $20.00
I have seen Borges described as the greatest Spanish writer of the 20th century, the most influential Latin American writer of the century, I have seen him linked with Kafka and Joyce as an unparalleled storyteller, he is often called one of the most remarkable writers of all, and yet somehow or another I have never read him.
Well that is all about to change as I have been given a copy of his Collected Fictions . Here is the opening paragraph of the inside front cover blurb:
Now, for the first time in English, all of Borge's dazzling fictions are
collected in a single volume - from his 1935 debut with The Universal
History of Iniquity
through his immensely influential collections of Ficciones and The Aleph, the enigmatic prose poems of The Maker, up to his final work in the 1980's, Shakespeare's Memory.
This collection, and it's a huge volume, has been published to commemorate the hundreth anniversary of Borge's birth, and it brings together all of his stories, all in new English translations by Andrew Hurley.
It is going to take me sometime to read this because of a heavy book review commitment presently but I shall report back in due course.
Meantime it is a joy just to hold this most handsome, beautifully and thoughtfully designed, deckle-edged volume. Many thanks to my daughter for this gift, a great piece of publishing.


Police sieze laptop of man using free library wireless Internet connection.

Monday, February 26, 2007


This from the Guardian, who is your pick?

This from the Guardian.

This from the New York Times 24 February, worth a look.


Rob and I decided we would cook a curry dinner for our partners Saturday night and it proved to be a popular choice.

We made Komale’s Potato & Bean Curry from Ray McVinnie’s column in last week’s Sunday Star Times “Sunday” magazine and teamed it up with Annabel Langbein’s Burmese Chicken Curry from her indispensable cook book, The Best of Annabel Langbein.

This was accompanied by Basmati rice with cinnamon and saffron from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible

The Madhur Jaffrey book is appropriately named because it contains absolutely everything you could wish to know on the subject of curries. It is the definitive book on the subject by this multi-talented world authority on Indian cooking. I have the handsome hardback edition (Ebury Press) which Annie gave me in 2003, the year of its publication.
Beautifully designed, and illustrated with both photographs of dishes along with many appealing reproductions of old paintings, prints and photographs.

Be warned however that the recipes are often quite complex and time consuming in their preparation and one should read them through thoroughly before setting out or you may fall into the trap that we did where in her Basmati rice recipe it calls for saffron threads, hot milk, ground cardamom and sugar to be mixed and then set aside for three hours!!
We read this detail when we were about an hour away from dishing up! Oh well we proceeded anyway and it was delicious but obviously it would have been even more so had we let it rest for three hours rather than one.

Another book worth having on the shelf but in a different price and production bracket, (some of the photography is ordinary to say the least), is Meena Pathak’s INDIAN COOKING FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Pathak is the creative force behind PATAK”S (they dropped the ‘h’), the world’s number one brand in Indian foods.

Published by New Holland this book is much more accessible than the Jaffrey title and I found it a great introduction to Indian cooking. Start with “Chicken with Spring Onions” on page 86. You can’t go wrong, and the finished result is scrumptious. It took me an hour from beginning preparation to serving.

Open a bottle of chilled New Zealand Pinot Gris, Reisling or Gewurtztraminer and you’ll be one most popular host.

Millions of videos, and now a way to search inside them.

Web Homework Aids Centre Creates Controvery

After a coffee, breakfast, and another coffee on Sunday mornings I usually settle down for a couple of hours with the Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday always read in that order as I find the SST more thoughtful and engaging compared to the more flippertyjibbet style of the HOS.

Here are my favourite pieces from yesterday’s papers:


Rachel Pike, one of the 2006/2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists programme run by the NBR New Zealand Opera interviewed on “the Sunday grill” when asked to complete the sentence New Zealand needs more……….
Straight, attractive, tattooed, single men who would like to date me.

Kim Knight in her review of Liquidity Dining in Lounge
(located at 128 Oxford Street, Christchurch) in describing the dessert had this to say:
“The tirasamu is declared more Caroline Bay than Lake Como………”

Three excerpts from Steve Braunias in his entertaining piece “clouding over”:

I bowled along to numerous literary events during my wanderings around England last year. One night in London, in the penthouse suite of New Zealand House, I attended the launch for
CK Stead’s novel, “My Name Was Judas”. A fat man whose name was Jonathan Hunt greeted everyone at the door; it was very formal – suits and champagne, oysters and a coatroom, Alan Hollinghurst and Roger Donaldson, an amAzing view over the Thames.

See for yourself by banging in Cloud Appreciation Society on Google. And then have a look at all the fantastic photographs of clouds taken in New Zealand. A sunset in Napier by Felix Minde, a jet-stream cirrus in Katikati by Bryan Chudleigh, the famous Nor’West Arch in Canterbury by Peter Rees.

But where are the best clouds at sunrise? Are they in Gisborne, the first to see the sun? Where are the best clouds at sunset? The best cumuls clouds, cirrus clouds, nimbus clouds, and all the rest?
Any keen observers – writers, photographers, artists – of clouds are more than welcome to reply to the e-mail address below, with their evocations of clouds across and over New Zealand. A display would look good in this magazine.

Finally from the SST just a mention of their commitment to book reviewing amply illustrated yesterday by Iain Sharp’s longish backgrounder and interview with Conn Iggulden, author of The Dangerous Book for Boys (Harper Collins), one of the biggest selling books in NZ this past Christmas, and reviews on three books about the Israel-Palestine problem which originally appeared in the Guardian.


“Top-end real estate agent Graham Wall said the price of prime New Zealand was ‘about to explode’. Every single piece of coastline and harbourside in NZ is massively undervalued. New Zealand is the only place on earth that is advantaged by the global phenomena that is disadvantaging the rest of the world. Things like pollution and overcrowding means isolation works for us.
He predicted that prime properties in places like the Bay of Islands, Hawkes Bay and Queenstown, and waterfront properties around Auckland were about to enjoy “an explosion in value", simply because NZ’s time has come.

A beaver has been spotted in New York City for the first time in more than 200 years. A North American beaver has been photographed in the Bronx River, a once-filthy waterway that runs through the Bronx Zoo.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

THE PONIES Bernadette Hall Victoria University Press

The covers, both back and front, on this anthology are quite stunning pieces of work by Dunedin visual artist Kathryn Madill. Unfortunatley my computer generated image does not do justice to the art.

In the extensive, and most interesting, notes at the back of the book we learn that in December 2004 Hall and Madill shared an Artist in Antartica Award. They joined up down there with two other artists; David Trubridge from Havelock North, " a designer, furniture maker and passionate advocate of sustainability in art and the way communities live";and Kirsten Haydon, a jeweller.

The poems are divided into three groupings and not surprisingly one of these groups features poems about Antarctica. And how interesting they are. Hall was obviously hugely affected by her experience on the ice.

Here is a tiny excerpt from a longish poem about the team on the Shackleton Expedition. Titled "The Irishman", it really appealed to me:

and the Kiwi,

Frank Worsley,

who at the age of ten

wagged school

and, on a raft he'd built

from manuka sticks,

using a shirt

for a sail,made it

right across the Akaroa Harbour.

So,in a tight spot,

my love,

like this one, I reckon

we'd be much better off

with Shackleton,

The back cover blurb suggests , accurately," that the poems range from the hazardous beauty of Antarctica to the urban nightmare of London, July 7 2005. From love in the 60's to Wellington's lively contemporary scene."

Author photograph by Robert Cross.

I previously only knew Hall through her work as the editor of the wonderful "Like Love Poems:Selected Poems" by Joanna Margaret Paul, and co-editor with James Norcliffe of the popular anthology of Canterbury poetry "Big Sky" which I mentioned on my blog of 31 January this year under the heading Holiday Reading.

Now having read this collection I am a fan!


SOL by Andrew Johnston Victoria University Press

From V.U.P. a delightful collection of new poems by former Wellingtonian Andrew Johnston with whom I caught up last weekend.

Beattie - Andrew when I first met you many moons ago you were the Books Review Editor for the late much lamented Evening Post newspaper in Wellington. What have you been doing since?

Johnston: Well, Graham, journalism is still paying the rent (or rather the mortgage) and poems still get written in spite of everything. After I left NZ in late 1996, I worked in London for about eight months as a casual sub-editor on the broadsheets, then moved to Normandy. A deal to teach English there fell through, and for 16 months I commuted once a week across the Channel on the night ferry to carry on working part-time on The Observer -- an experience that I'm still unpacking.

When I got married in late 1998 I acquired the right to work in France, so I wrote a letter to the International Herald Tribune in Paris and they gave me a job. Christine, my wife, got a university post in Paris, too, and so we've been living there since early 1999.

As for poetry, I had a selected poems published in Britain in 1999, then VUP published another collection here, Birds of Europe, in 2000. So this new book, Sol, has been seven years in the making -- during which time Emile, our son, arrived.

The other thing I've been doing is keeping up a web site, The Page ( I'd always wanted to find a web site that kept track of the best new writing about poetry, and couldn't find it, so I made it myself. It's a lot of fun, though I find it hard attending to it regularly. (Note from Beattie - this site is well worth a visit.)

Beattie – ahh Paris, the world’s most visited city, the city of light, the city too of ex-pats I gather. Is there indeed a large community of ex-pats? Is this community visible? Do you come across other NZ’s living there? Other artists?

Johnston: From time to time I come across other NZers in Paris, and I've been to one or two things at the embassy, but if there's a community of expats who meet regularly I'm not aware of it. I know that young NZers who go to London often tend to get around together -- that there's a real community there -- but my impression is that in general NZers who settle elsewhere overseas tend to want to fit in, to blend in. The previous ambassador in Paris told me they even have to be careful contacting NZers because some just don't want to know. As for me, I have dual nationality now, and I'm pretty caught up in the big questions that France is struggling with; I feel I belong to both places.

Beattie: Part One of your new collection, some 12 poems, is made up of poems written obviously as a result of living in France. How big a part does environment play in influencing your poetry, both in terms of style and subject?

Johnston: That's a question that preoccupies me rather a lot because sometimes I wish I was one of those poets who are good at making poems out of their surroundings -- where I live is an interesting place, after all. But it's also true that living in Paris can be inhibiting for a writer because as a place it has been written about endlessly -- overwritten, even. Paris does get into some of the poems, but it's more often the case that I write about France (or from France) when I'm out of town, on holiday.

As far as style is concerned, and the influence of being in France, I'm interested in French poetry but slightly allergic to some of its philosophical pretensions and its inherent conservatism (even when it's being avant-garde) so I doubt that French poetry has influenced my style. I'm much more steeped in contemporary American poetry, which is incredibly rich and varied and adventurous.

Beattie: Do you get home to NZ very often and what are you doing while you are here this time?

Johnston: I've been lucky enough to get back here every 18 months or so, on average, though it's two and half years since I last came. This time I'm here for a year, working on a book about contemporary New Zealand poetry -- I managed to get the J D Stout Research Fellowship at Victoria University to do that. It's also a year to get back in touch with family and friends, for Christine to do some research of her own, and for our son Emile to get to know his NZ family and to speak English. He's loving it so far. And so am I!

Author pic courtesy Victoria University Press.

BLACK EARTH WHITE BONES by Chris Else Vintage NZ$28.00

Chris Else is a bookman through and through. He is a novelist and short story writer, this is his seventh book, he has been both a bookseller and a publisher's sales representative, he has taught creative writing, he is an activist within the NZ Society of Authors, and with his novelist wife, Barbara, he runs a literacy agency and manuscript assessment service.

Whew, that is quite a pedigree. Not surprising then that the crowd at the launch of BLACK EARTH WHITE BONES at Unity Books in Wellington earlier this month attracted scores of authors and other folk from the book world.

His new novel is a rich, brooding and thoughtful work in which we meet Kit Wallace and whom we follow through his life, in which he is somewhat adrift, on the Pacific island nation of Ventiak.
This nation, although appearing a little like Nauru in terms of the ruthless exploitation of its phosphate beds, is entirely the creation of Else and I have to say I am full of admiration for his achievement. He has created a language, flora and fauna, and a full scale culture including customs, rituals, legends and food.

Wallace, who has his demons and is a lot better man than he gives himself credit for, lives with a bunch of slightly crazy ex-pats, on the top floor (no air conditioning) of the Royal Albert Hotel.
The funds on which he has been living all these years are almost exhausted and when the opportunity arises to invest modestly in a get-rich-quick scheme to exploit the island he is initially tempted and then apalled at the idea, his own loyalty to Ventiak taking him somewhat by surprise.

Get inside this book, get to know the locals and their customs and you'll find it a good read.
There are some especially fine pieces of flashback to Wallace's early life in small-town New Zealand.
I was a tad disappointed with the novel's conclusion, the last two chapters I felt needed expansion, but then I always prefer good clear cut endings whether they be in a book or a movie.

Chris Else is a quiet, fairly serious, thoughtful man and in BLACK EARTH WHITE BONES he has delivered us a quiet, fairly serious and thoughtful novel.

Photo of author courtesy Random House NZ.

This from The Times today.

Today's link, of particular interest to all my librarian friends.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Viking (the hardback imprint of Penguin Books) is reported to have paid NZ$200,000 for a book based on "Wife in the North", a blog by Judith O'Reilly. Use the link to have a look at her blog site.

This from the Independent.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


This today from Library Link of the Day.

This today from the BBC.

This story from The Chronicle of Higher Education, is well worth a read.

Years ago, probably 1986 or 1987, while working as CEO for Penguin NZ at the time that Senior Editor John Barnett and I were getting the New Zealand publishing programme established, (Penguin NZ had been solely a book distribution company prior to that), I was due to make my annual trip to the head office of the company in London when word came through asking me to call on the recently established Penguin India in New Delhi. I had not previously been to India so was delighted to have this diversion from my normal direct travel to the U.K.

I had a fascinating week in New Delhi where I was hosted by the newly appointed Publisher David Davidar, a young, handsome, energetic, generous and charming man. He and I had a most productive time together from a company point of view and on the personal side of things he ensured I saw many of New Delhi’s special places as well as organising a day trip to Agra to visit the astonishing Taj Mahal and the nearby Red Fort. He also introduced me to the Mark Tully, the BBC's long-time Indian correspondent, an author in his own right and a man much revered in India. We had most interesting discussions over a meal at Mark's home where he served us goat and roast vegetables which he managed to convince me was lamb!
That week in New Delhi was one of the great weeks of my life.

When I left I had an extra suitcase in which were six or so bulky manuscripts to deliver to London; these were later to become Penguin India’s first publishing.

Those were in the days before e-mail, I left Penguin in 1988 to join Scholastic, and David and I lost touch. Then in 2002 he came back into my orbit with his novel “The House of Blue Mangoes”, a great read which went on to become a best-seller worldwide. His second novel will be published later this year.

And now I have received the following press release from Penguin Canada.

"We are indeed fortunate to have a wonderful publishing executive ready to assume the role of President and Publisher of Penguin Group Canada. David Davidar will transition into his new position over the next three months and take on full responsibility for the Group on May 1, 2007.

David joined the Canadian company three years ago after nearly twenty years with Pearson in India. Before he was transferred in January of 2004, he was Group CEO of Pearson India (which comprises Penguin Books India, Pearson Education India and Dorling Kindersley India). David began his publishing career in his mid-twenties as one of the founding members of Penguin India. Beginning modestly with an investment of US$10,000 and a list of six titles in 1987, Penguin India is now Asia’s largest English language consumer publishing house, publishing over 200 new books a year. The Penguin India list includes some of the best known Indian authors (and authors who write about India) in the world.

In addition to his expertise as a publishing executive, David is a best-selling author. His first novel, The House of Blue Mangoes, was published around the world in Spring 2002. It was translated into 16 languages and sold over 100,000 copies (it was on bestseller lists in Canada, India, France, the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore). It featured on the Amazon Hot 100 list and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Booksense ‘76 pick. His second novel, The Solitude of Emperors, will be published in the Fall of 2007.

For the last three years David, in his role as Publisher of Penguin Group Canada, has revitalized the Canadian indigenous publishing programme. During 2006 the gross sales of the Canadian list grew by a remarkable 23.2% and exceeded our most optimistic profit targets. David and his team have positioned Penguin Canada at the forefront of Canadian trade publishing."

Congratulations David. I hope one day our paths will cross again and in the meantime I await publication of your second novel with some impatience!

Monday, February 19, 2007


This from The Guardian.

I had the great privilege of being one of the judges for these awards for several years.
In case you missed this year's shortlist announced last week here is a link to the site - 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize Shortlist.

Wonderful to see that there are three New Zealand entries in the Best Book category and two in the Best First Book category. Congratulations to James George, Lloyd Jones, Damien Wilkins, Paul Shannon and Carl Nixon.
The next hurdle is to win the regional prize and so gain entry to the international final. Good luck boys.

Here is something to ponder.From the Philadelphia Enquirer.
You might like to make up your on list?

Yesterday in the Sunday Star Times there was a story that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times the week before regarding the threat to independent bookstores.

The main thrust of the story, which if you missed it you can read now by clicking on the link below, is that Internet sales are the major threat to the survival of the independent.It makes for sobering reading.

It is my view that all NZ independent booksellers need to get themselves a website if they do not already have one and become serious about using the Internet as a major selling tool.Even better if this is done with a regular electronic newsletter.,0,6229370.story?coll=cl-books

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand has announced its list of Notable New Zealand Books 2007.

Ten books in four categories have been selected, from the more than 150 books published during 2006.

Storylines’ first Notable Books list was in 2000, containing 40 notable books published in 1999. The list reflects the wide-ranging achievements of New Zealand authors and illustrators. It appears in February each year.

Picture books
Books for children and/or young adults where the narrative is carried equally by pictures and story.

Share Said the Rooster by Pamela Allen. Viking.

A Present from the Past by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Lindy Fisher. Scholastic New Zealand.

Riding the Waves: Four Māori Myths by Gavin Bishop. [Also available in Te Reo: Whakaeke i ngā Ngaru: e Whā Tino Pūrākau translated by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira]. Random House New Zealand.

Greedy Cat and the Sneeze by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Robyn Belton. Scholastic New Zealand.

Billy by Kate De Goldi, illustrated by Jacqui Colley. [A Lolly Leopold Story.] Trapeze.

Itiiti's Gift by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Fifi Colston. Reed.

The Three Fishing Brothers Gruff by Ben Galbraith. Hodder Children's Books.

Matatuhi by Robyn Kahukiwa. [Also available in Te Reo: Matatuhi translated by Kiwa Hammond.] Puffin.

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo & John O'Reilly. Scholastic New Zealand.

Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth, illustrated by Ali Teo. Huia Publishers.

The judging panel would like to make special mention of Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Frances Lincoln). Margaret’s poem has been in print in a poetry collection for many years and therefore not eligible for inclusion in the list. However, the panel considers Down the Back of the Chair to be a treasure for New Zealand children.

Junior fiction
Fiction suitable for primary and intermediate-age children.

And Did Those Feet… by Ted Dawe. Longacre Press.

Boyznbikes by Vince Ford. Scholastic New Zealand.

Ocean Without End: Book One of the Swashbuckler Trilogy by Kelly Gardiner. HarperCollins.

Frog Whistle Mine by Des Hunt. HarperCollins.

Thor's Tale: Endurance and Adventure in the Southern Ocean by Janice Marriott. HarperCollins.

The Unquiet by Carolyn McCurdie. Longacre Press.

Mind Over Matter by Heather McQuillan. Scholastic New Zealand.

Old Bones by Bill Nagelkerke. Scholastic New Zealand.

Castaway: the Diary of Samuel Abraham Clark, Disappointment Island, 1907 by Bill O'Brien [My Story series]. Scholastic New Zealand.

The Whizbanger that Emmental Built by Reuben Schwarz. Puffin.

Young adult fiction
Fiction suitable for upper intermediate and secondary school students.

A Respectable Girl by Fleur Beale. Random House New Zealand.

Spirit of the Deep by Margaret Beames. Lothian.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett. Longacre Press.

Paperchase by G. Brassi. Scholastic New Zealand.

Red Leader Down by Ken Catran. Random House New Zealand.

Aim High by David Hill. Mallinson Rendel Publishers.

Shooting the Moon by V.M. Jones. HarperCollins.

Face It by Denis Martin. Puffin.

Single Fin by Aaron Topp. Random House New Zealand.

Thieves: a novel by Ella West. Longacre Press.

For authoritative, well-designed information books accessible to children and young adults.

Red Haze: Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam by Leon Davidson. Black Dog Books.

Bird's-Eye View: Through the Eyes of New Zealand Birds by Maria Gill, photographs by Darryl Torckler and Geoff Moon. Penguin.

Flamingo Bendalingo: Poems from the Zoo by Paula Green and fifty children, illustrated by Michael Hight. Auckland University Press.

Celebrating Matariki by Libby Hakaraia. Reed.

It’s True! You Can Make Your Own Jokes by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird. Allen & Unwin.

Soldier in the Yellow Socks: Charles Upham – Our Finest Fighting Soldier by Janice Marriott, illustrated by Bruce Potter. HarperCollins Publishers.

What is on Top? by John Parker, photographs by Glenn Jowitt. [Also available in Te Reo: He aha kei Runga? translated by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira.] Scholastic New Zealand.

Winging It: The Adventures of Tim Wallis by Neville Peat. Longacre Press.

The Illustrated History of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson. Random House New Zealand.

Fighting Past Each Other: The New Zealand Wars 1845-1875 by Matthew Wright, illustrated by Suzy Brown. Reed.

Eligibility criteria
• Entries are open to books first published in New Zealand between 1 January and 31 December each year.
• Authors and illustrators must be New Zealanders by birth, naturalisation or immigration, who have been New Zealand residents for 2 years.
• Books entered for the awards must be single, stand-alone entries and must contain at least 16 pages of text and/or illustration.
• Textbooks, resource kits, and books supplied free to centres of learning are not eligible.
• Books must be available for trade sales.
• Reprints and reissues from previous years are not eligible unless they are new editions which contain substantial revision (adding significant new content and interpretation).
• Anthologies of work by three or more authors are eligible.
• Where a book with an attachment (e.g. CD) is submitted, the book will be considered the primary vehicle to be judged.
• Books written or illustrated by a New Zealander, but with illustrations/text by an overseas illustrator/author will be considered for the creative input of the New Zealander.
The final decision on the eligibility of any submission rests with the Notable Books panel.

The judging panel
The Notable Books List is selected by a panel of 20, made up from the Storylines community, of current children’s literature professionals.

These include past and present members of the Storylines management committee, all of whom have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of children’s literature and many have served as judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards (and its previous incarnations) and the LIANZA children’s book awards.

The panel meets regularly throughout the year to discuss recently published books, culminating in a meeting the night of the New Zealand Post Book Awards shortlist announcement.

For further information about the Storylines organisation or the Notable Books List see our website
or email

Friday, February 16, 2007

A ‘slow and steamy’ literary feast

An unusual literary event will be staged in Waitakere City at a special property in the Oratia foothills on Sunday 4th March from 4pm until sundown. Called ‘Slow & Steamy’, it’s a summer garden party styled on the iconic steam train journey that inspired the Going West Books and Writers Festival.
But this time, the steam engine is a stationary one (image attached). Dating back to 1893 it's a black, four tonne, seven-horsepower marvel owned by Oratia man Dave Harre, and he’ll be using it to cook dinner—assisted by Alessandra Zecchini, the cookery writer and Slow Food maestro. Local vineyard Artisan Wines is supplying the fine wine.
Proceeds from the $75-a-head tickets will help to fund the 2007 Going West Festival. As well as classic Kiwi fare (mussels, corn, spit roast lamb), the ticket price includes entertainment from top writers and musicians in the stunning garden setting of Murray and Penny Firth’s Firlong Nurseries. Located at 48 Carter Rd, the lush manicured grounds feature a lake, shady glades and rolling lawns.
Guest authors are:
• Poet Glenn Colquhoun (Playing God and How We Fell) with veteran performer Cherie Barford.
• Chef Alessandra Zecchini of Slow Food Waitakere (author of Savour and Sweet As).
• Novelist and Book Show presenter Emily Perkins (The Picnic Virgin).
• Writer Philip Simpson, whose book Pohutukawa & Rata won the Environment section of the Montana Book Awards last year.
There will also be musical interludes from chanteuse Fiona Ferens, vintage Dixieland Jazz band ‘The Lex Pistols’ and roving troubadours Linn Lorkin with
‘The French Toast Trio’.
Strictly limited tickets are on sale at Murray Gray’s Gone West bookshop in Titirangi Village. To book now, call (09) 817 3236 or email
Visit for more information.
Publicity contact  Rose Yukich: ph: 09 630 4518 or 027 630 2003

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I have a bookseller friend who e-mails me from time to time advising me about books that may be of interest. I have great faith in her judgement and as she has been selling me books for many years I invariably end up buying the titles she suggests.

Here for example is part of an e-mail she sent me a week or so back:

"I thought of you this morning as a book arrived which I just have to have, and I think you will too, and another that came in that you may have an historic interest in...........the first is published by National Geographic Directions(distributed in NZ by Random House)and its called "Into a Paris Quartier"by Diane Johnson. It is about Reine Margot's Chapel and other haunts of Saint-Germain. The back cover blurb says "an episodic, engaging evocation of Paris....nothing is as wonderful as a trip top la ville lumiere but this is a good second choice."

The other book, I am really loving this one, I read about somewhere and ordered from the US,is called >"Feeling Like a Kid - Childhood and Children's Literature"em> and its by Jerry Griswold, published by The John Hopkins University Press. It's a beautiful little harcover with lovely illustrations that talks about how the best children's lit works because of a writer's ability to remember their own childhoods and evoke that feeling of being a child."

Needless to say I bought both books! I should also add that my bookseller friend works in an independent bookstore but is not the owner. She is promoting these books because she loves them and wants others to share her joy in them.No wonder she is such an outstanding bookseller.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


There seems to be a trend by book publishers to do exclusive deals on individual titles with bookshop chains which excludes other booksellers from sellling the particular title for a period of 2-3 months.
Not surprisingly independent booksellers are most unhappy about this practice particularly when the publishers and the chain concerned generate publicity and reviews for the title which results in the independent bookseller' clients coming in to buy the book and having to be told I'm sorry but it is only available from Whitcoulls.

There is a school of thought that suggests these deals may be illegal and my knowledge of the Fair Trading Act is not sufficient to comment on that but I would have to say that in my view the practice is immoral and totally unfair. And it is something I would never have agreed to in my corporate publishing days.

The following is an e-mail communication between independent booksellers concerning the latest instance:

News broke on Friday that Harper Collins had agreed late last year to sell their full shipment of (I think) 5,000 cc of Lionel Shriver's new title Post-birthday World to Whitcoulls for release March. We're to get it 6 weeks later.

However you may have noticed in Expose # 335 of 30 Jan 07 (now from Sandra Noakes, H Coll NZ) in its INTERVIEWS / REVIEWS/EXTRACTS section: "Lionel Shriver, author of Post Birthday World will be interviewed and her book will be reviewed in a March issue of the Dominion Post". Effectively this means that HarperCollins is doing a major promotion for W/C as well which is reprehensible. All for about $100,000 nett.

This reminds us of when Penguin sold the Jane Austen Book Club on exclusive to Whitcoulls to which we also objected because it was literary fiction and unfair trading. Penguin didn't line up any promotion for it. An irony with JA Books Club was that it was a bestseller for Dymocks Newmarket at the same time and it may well be that Dymocks will also be able to source Post-birthday World in the same way. Well and good, but what about we independents?

Chris Casey and Tony Fisk have received some strenuous objection but let's give them more. They're meeting again about it this morning.

This is from Russell McVeigh website, a bit simplistic (and more to do with mergers usually) but perhaps handy in the meanwhile:
Restrictive Trade Practices
The key restrictive trade practice provisions in the Act are:
section 27, which prohibits contracts or arrangements which substantially lessen competition in a market;
section 30, which prohibits price fixing (which is deemed to substantially lessen competition in a market); and
section 36, which prohibits the taking advantage of a substantial degree of market power for certain prescribed purposes.
Collective boycotts and resale price maintenance are also prohibited by the Act.
The "substantial lessening of competition" and "substantial degree of market power" tests are similar to those applied in Australia under the Trade Practices Act 1974.

Nielsen BookData says: For sale with non-exclusive rights in: Australia, New Zealand, United States
Plot synopsis looks lightish, a bit like Double Fault, however this shop hasn't received a reading copy:
It all hinges on one kiss. Whether Irena McGovern does or does not lean in to a specific pair of lips in London will determine whether she stays with her disciplined, intellectual partner Lawrence or run off with Ramsey, a hard living snooker player.

US editions; Hardback and large print paperbackb 1 Mar US25.95 possibly worth it, but I would rather see an end to Australian trade paperback literary fiction as exclusives to Whitcoulls.

Bookman Beattie says - We haven't heard the end of this and I believe publishers should think very carefully before going down this road.It may prove to be a very rocky one.
As I said in my blog of February 7 we are fortunate in New Zealand to have many excellent independent bookstores but their livelihood will be put at risk with this sort of short-sighted behaviour from publishers.
Paul Torday Weidenfeld & Nicolson

I reviewed this book on Radio New Zealand National today. Here are my notes on it.

I have to say I was somewhat surprised with the title of this book when it turned up but it proved to be an hilarious and most entertaining read and I reckon my reaction will be shared by most readers and word of mouth will ensure it goes on to become a really big best-seller.
I read it in one long happy sitting and laughed out loud on several occasions. It is a real page turner. An unexpected gem.

It’s a satire really, but a gentle satire in which first-time author Paul Torday sends up modern marriage, the Western view of Islam, political shennanigans, international relations, the media, the academic world, and the world of the bureaucrat.

And all done in a gentle and kind sort of way - what a stunning achievement.

The story is told by way of diary extracts, memos between government agencies, letters and e-mails between various individuals, tv & radio interview transcripts, extracts from Hansard, select committee conclusions and even a termination of employment contract.

And it is the story of Dr.Alfred Jones described by himself as “an old, cold, cautious scientist”, but in fact he proves to be a most likeable protagonist. He is in fact
a middle-aged fisheries scientist working in the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence where he is an authority on caddis fly larva, he is also a somewhat henpecked spouse in a loveless marriage and a man ready to love again.

One day he is approached by a wealthy Yemeni Sheik to develop a ridiculous plan to introduce the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen. He, of course refuses, and gives all the scientific reasons why such a scheme would not work.
However British politicians get wind of it, see it as a great opportunity to improve British/Yemeni relations and pressure him to do it. So he unwittingly becomes first a pawn and then a victim of bureaucratic juggling and political spin.
Eventually though he becomes seduced by the Sheik’s vision and his passion for salmon fishing and as a result he goes on an amazing journey that proves to be both geographical and spiritual.

It is a great piece of imaginative writing. It is a book about love, about human existence, about ambition and greed, about intercultural differences and about salmon fishing.

I was bowled over by it and I’m not surprised to learn that translation rights have already been sold to publishers around the world.

Paul Torday worked for 30 years as an engineer before taking up writing and not surprisingly one of his great loves is salmon fishing. I read somewhere that he sees his book as “something of a metaphor for the tension between secular Western values and the values of religious societies still outside the mainstream Western traditions.”

I guess you could interpret it that way but for me it was a just a great, entertaining read and I was sorry when I finished it. A sequel please Mr.Torday, I need to know what Dr.Alfred Jones does with the rest of his life and whether his unrequited love is finally returned.

Author Paul Torday.

Impressively the novel has its own website – although it is of course a publicity tool for the book it is sophisticated and effective and well worth a look..

A PS for NZ readers – At one stage in the story the British PM asks his assistant to get him a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc! Nice little plug for an iconic NZ wine.

Monday, February 12, 2007

KIDNAPPED - Robert Louis Stevenson

25,000 copies to be given away! This from The Guardian.

Walter McVitty, author, publisher, visionary is to be honoured at the 26th annual Dinner of The Dromkeen Society in Melbourne on 23 February, 2007 when he will be presented with the prestigious Dromkeen Medal.

Walter McVitty enjoyed a career as a teacher and librarian before setting up Walter McVitty Books with his wife Lois in 1985. For 23 years the publishing venture flourished with their policy of accepting for publication only the highest quality of writing and illustration resulting in them winning many awards both within Australia and overseas. In 1995 Walter was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the arts and particularly as a publisher of chilren's literature, The business was sold to Lothian Books in 1998 and Walter and Lois live in retirement in Melbourne.

I have met Walter on a number of occasions, and long admired his publishing. Can I then on behalf of all New Zealanders who admire quality children's publishing offer Walter warmest congratulations on this latest accolade and wish him and Lois a long and happy retirement.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Wandering around the Auckland suburb of Kingsland yesterday with friends from Christchurch we stumbled across a most interesting store full of NZ hand made items – jewellery, blankets, clothing, art, wooden toys. Native Agent is the name of the store and you can visit them on the Web at or go along to 507a New North Road, Kingsland , say hello to Lindsay and check her store out in person.
And while you are there check out The Fridge next door, a superb deli/café where I had the best mince pie ever along with an excellent cup of Karajoz coffee.

I mention this because on the counter at Native Agent I found a magazine I had not come across before WHITE FUNGUS.
The first sentence of the Editorial reads:

Welcome to White Fungus Issue 7 . Non-official culture from Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand.

I guess you would categorise it as an arts magazine, an experimental arts magazine, one that devotes space to a number of less well known artists as well as those well established. It also looks at Auckland duo, Coco Solid, the Festival of sound and film held in Dunedin last October, there are stories on public art, Singapore, Yvonne Todd, the Pink & White Terraces (very good too), performance art at Govett-Brewster and a lot more besides.

There is also an interview with American writer Chris Kraus and here is a small part of what Kraus had to say that particularly caught my eye:

‘How to Look at a Painting” by Justin Paton is such a perfect book It’s written for anyone, any civilian outside the art world. Justin talks about how to look at the work very openly, being willing to make your own connections”.

I would warmly endorse these comments, “How to Look at a Painting”, published in Wellington by Awa Press in their entertaining and acclaimed "Ginger Series" which also includes “How to Read a Book” and “How to Drink a Glass of Wine”.

Sorry about the colours here, the true colours are a beautiful burgundy and shades of brown! Apologies to the publisher.

If you are interested in the arts do spend $10 and have a look at White Fungus. I found it good value.

This story from the New York Times Book Review today.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I notice in The Bookseller of 19 January they have listed the best-selling cookbooks for the 52 weeks to 30 December 2006.

Jamie Oliver has three titles in the top 20, the best represented chef/author.

The top four best-sellers were:

Cook with Jamie - Jamie Oliver

Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch - Gordon Ramsay

Jamie's Italy - Jamie Oliver

The Kitchen Diaries - Nigel Slater

The great thing about the best-seller lists published in The Bookseller, and there are many of them e.g. they often divide fiction best-sellers into three or four different categories, is that you can trust them implicitly as they are collated by using the publishers computer records of net sales.

This is not the case in New Zealand and I often wonder just how valid our lists are.
I suspect they are collated using anecdotal evidence from a selection of individual booksellers. If that is the case then they are not worth the paper they are written on.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


This guy, author of "Schott's Original Miscellany" and its two sequels, is a guy I would like to have dinner with. Click on here to read how he describes himself on his appealing website.

In the New York Times Book Review section of December 3 , 2006 he had a whole page of book miscellanies under the heading The Bibliognost's Handbook.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Challenged Books of the 21st Century

The American Library Association compiles a list of books most frequently challenged by members of the public. A "challenge" is a formal, written complaint requesting the removal of a book from a library or school because of "content or appropriateness". Below are the books most frequently challenged from 2000-5.

Harry Potter series - J.K.Rowling
Fallen Angels - Walter Dean Myers
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier
It's Perfectly Normal - Robie Harris
Alice Series - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Scary Stories series - Alvin Schwartz
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Captain Underpants Series - Dav Pikey
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
Forever - Judy Blume

(Comment from Bookman Beattie - note they are almost all children's books!)


Bibliocast - one who destroys books, notably Bibles
Bibliognost - one with a complete (pedantic) knowledge of a book
Biblioklept - a book thief
Bibliokleptomaniac - an insane book thief
Bibliolatry - (excessive) admiration or love of books or particular book
Bibliomancy - divination by books, notably religious texts
Bibliomane - an indiscriminate hoarder of books
Bibliopegy - (the finer forms of) bookbinding
Bibliophagist - one who (usually metaphorically) eats books
Bibliophobia - a morbid fear of books
Bibliopesy - the construction of books
Bibliopole - one who sells or deals in books
Bibliotaph - one who "buries" books by keeping them locked away
Bibliothecary - a librarian

The Healing Powers of Homer

An old superstition held that if the fourth book of the Iliad was placed under the head of patients suffereing from "quartan ague" they would immediately be cured. (A quartan ague is one that occurs every 72 hours or so - every 4th day in the old reckoning, or 3rd in the modern.It tends to be associated with malarial fevers.)

New Director for Auckland University Press
7 February 2007

The University of Auckland has today announced the appointment of Dr Sam Elworthy as the new Director of Auckland University Press.

Dr Elworthy will succeed the present Director, Elizabeth Caffin, who will retire on 1 June 2007.

Ms Caffin has led AUP for over 20 years, building an impressive list of prize-winning books and making a major contribution to book publishing in New Zealand.

Dr Elworthy is currently Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Director of the Princeton University Press.

He is a graduate of the University of Otago (MA in History, 1990) and Rutgers University (PhD in History, 1998). His PhD was undertaken while holding a Fulbright Fellowship and a number of US grants and fellowships, and his thesis was awarded a Dean's Dissertation Prize in 1997.

Between 1997 and 2001 Dr Elworthy was Science Editor at the Princeton University Press, becoming Group Manager and Editor-in-Chief, Science in 2002 and taking up his present position of Editor-in-Chief in 2003. Dr Elworthy's MA thesis was published as Ritual Song of Defiance: A Social History of Students at the University of Otago, 1990. In 1998 he co-edited Einstein's Miraculous Year: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics with John Stachel.

Note from Bookman Beattie:

Sam Elworthy is the nephew of veteran New Zealand publisher David Elworthy.

This came in this am from Scholastic NZ:

Scholastic New Zealand is proud to announce that we have four of the 20 titles shortlisted for this year's awards (plus one by Black Dog Books, whom we represent in NZ). Congratulations to all the authors/illustrators concerned.

Picture book

* Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo & John O'Reilly (Scholastic).
* Matatuhi written and illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa./Matatuhi (Te Reo edition) written and illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa.
* The Three Fishing Brothers Gruff written and illustrated by Ben Galbraith.
* Riding the Waves written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop./ Whakaeke i nga Ngaru (Te Reo edition of Riding the Waves) written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop.
* A Present from the Past by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Lindy Fisher (Scholastic).


* Winging It: The Adventures of Tim Wallis by Neville Peat.
* Red Haze: Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam by Leon Davidson (Black Dog Books).
* Soldier in the Yellow Socks by Janice Marriott.
* Illustrated History of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson.
* It's True! You Can Make Your Own Jokes by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird.

Junior fiction

* Thor's Tale by Janice Marriott.
* My Story: Castaway - The Diary of Samuel Abraham Clark, Disappointment Island, 1907 by Bill O'Brien (Scholastic).
* Frog Whistle Mine by Des Hunt.
* And Did Those Feet by Ted Dawe.
* Boyznbikes by Vince Ford (Scholastic).

Young adult

* A Respectable Girl by Fleur Beale.
* Genesis by Bernard Beckett.
* Shooting the Moon by V.M. Jones.
* Single Fin by Aaron Topp.
* Thieves by Ella West.

A review from The Times which is well worth a read.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Silk Riders - Jo and Gareth Morgan's Incredible Journey on the Trail of Marco Polo with John McCrystal - Publisher Random House.

This book has the longest sub-title I have seen imposed on a book in many a year.
Sub-titles though are useful tools for explaining the contents of a book if the main title fails to do this. Publishers like them and I must say as a consumer I tend to like them too.

From his weekly newspaper column reports and his weekly chat with Paul Holmes many New Zealanders will be familiar with the ride that Gareth Morgan, along with his wife Jo and five friends made on motorcycles to replicate the overland journey of Marco Polo from his Italian homeland (although he was born in Croatia) to Xanadu in China.

The Morgans, and Gareth is a great New Zealander in my opinion, and their crazy mates, must be nuts to undertake adventures of this kind. Rivetting and entertaining as the story proved to be, the escapades and problems and difficulties they experienced along the way made me decide for all time that I was never venturing beyond the city boundary on my 150cc Vespa !!

Hugely entertaining with Gareth Morgan's characteristic alternative take on much of what goes on around him and a goodly selection of photographs too. As you might imagine the planning and organisation that goes into such a trip is formidable.

One shouldn't overlook the valuable contribution made to the finished highly readable text provided by well-known Wellington scribe John McCrystal.

Thanks to my friend Peter who loaned me Silk Riders ,I'm now looking forward to the next Morgan adventure which is due in the next couple of months and tells of their epic 2006 journey across and around the U.S.

PS I should have mentioned the book comes with a DVD - an hour long doco with photo slideshow.

BUONISSIMO - easy modern recipes for traditional Italian cooking

by Sivana Franco, Ursula Ferrigno, Clare Ferguson, Elsa Petersen-Schepelern
Published by Ryland, Peters & Small.

Four London-based experts on Italian cooking with particular interest for New Zealanders Clare Ferguson who originally hales from thse shores, is a sister of our cooking matriarch Alison Holst, and is a former Food Editor of both Elle and She magazines.

This has quickly become a favourite cookbook in our house and as I haven't got a cover image I'll show a photo of a luncheon dish we made last weekend which is featured on the cover which can be seen behind the dish.

The dish is called cherry tomato pizza and is typical of the many tasty and easy-to-make dishes to be found in the book.My three other favourites so far are focaccia with olives, pasta con le vongole (which we also made at the weekend with our harvest of cockles, and risotto with asparagus,peas and basil.

If you are keen on Italian cooking, even if you haven't ventured into the field yet, then this is the book for you. I can't tell you the price as it was a gift but I notice it is pds.16.99 in the UK.

"Bird's Eye View" is a quite amazing book by Matakana resident Maria Gill and with photographs by noted natural history photographers Darryl Torckler and Geoff Moon.

Please excuse the colour in this photograph which has been totally distorted by my computer. You should actually be looking at rich browns and gold instead
of the blues and mauves! Apologies to the photgrapher, author and publisher.

Although published by Penguin under their children's imprint Puffin Books I personally think this will also be of great appeal to all adults interested in New Zealand birdlife. I came across it during a visit to the recently opened Puriri Tree, a store on the main road between Matakana and Whangateau about an hours drive north of Auckland.

I describe the book as amazing because using the latest avian-vision research we are shown just exactly what it is that 13 New Zealand birds see in their natural habitats.

The author has received help from world avian-vision expert Dr.Graham Martin. Some of his research findings has only recently been published in scientific journals and never before has a book shown just what a bird can see in its natural environment.

If you are interested at all in NZ birds than have a look at this book and be prepared to be amazed.I should add that there is loads of other information too on the birds' other senses and natural habitat.

Picture below of author, Maria Gill:


In these days of the massive chains like Whitcoulls and Paper Plus and Borders (in NZ) and many others in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK is the independent bookseller going to be able to survive?

This is a question often asked. It arises because of the enormous buying power (read blackmail ability) of the chains who then regularly use that buying power to discount bestsellers. Bestsellers are the bread and butter of the independent bookseller and by being forced to discount the likes of a new Harry Potter the independent bookseller's income (read survival) is threatened.
In New Zealand we are fortunate to still have many excellent independent booksellers but their fight for survival is a real one and if we want them to survive then we must support them.

Here is a thoughtful piece that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor last week on this subject.

Writing courses, writing workshops, writing weekends - they should be stopped !

This from The Australian.

Fancy trying your hand at creative writing but can't seem to get started, or find the time?
Penguin Books UK may have the answer, this courtesy of The Age, Melbourne's great daily newspaper.
Click on the headline above to read about it.

Monday, February 05, 2007


In New Zealand we commemorate Waitangi Day on February 6 with a public holiday. This is the day back in 1840 when the Maori people and the British Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi which became New Zealand’s founding document.

For this reason there will be no blog added to my site on February 6.

I’ll be back in action the following day. See you then,
Bookman Beattie

I am not a great movie buff, give me books and magazines any day, so I guess we usually see about 10 or 12 movies a year. These are often foreign or low budget movies that have been at film festivals and then gone out on general release.

Recently I have noticed an increasing number of documentary movies on general release and I guess this is an outcome of the advent of documentary movies having their own festivals?

Last evening we saw FIVE DAYS IN SEPTEMBER in the mini theatre at the wonderful Academy Cinema tucked underneath the Public Library in Auckland city. This is one of my favourite movie houses, largely because of the interesting mix of movies they show but also because there is a motorcycle parking area right outside which means I can arrive on the Vespa just minutes before the movie is due to commence and have no parking problems.

FIVE DAYS IN SEPTEMBER is a documentary that records five days in the rebirth of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under what proves to be an inspired choice of a new leader, Peter Oundjian. The movie provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into the running of a major symphony orchestra with all the pressures and problems, frustrations and rewards, and the sheer excitement of an orchestra in the process of successful re-establishment.

Glorioius music with stunning guest performances by diva Renee Fleming, international start cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and leading Canadian pianist Emanuel Ax.
Music by Chopin, Mahler, Dvorak, Verdi make for a fabulous sound-track.

After an hour and 20 minutes we came away exhilarated and happy after a wonderful movie and musical treat. We headed home to hunt out our CD of the Dvorak cello concerto. And next week I’ll be at Marbecks to see if there is a sound track of the movie availab

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The confident cook

I have previously revealed on my blog that I am an inveterate collector of cookbooks and I confess that at last count I have close to 400.Most of the recipes I make regularly though come from I guess fewer than 30 of the collection.
I was given another six volumes at Christmas which I have read and now have begun to make recipes from them.
Among them was “the confident cook” by master recipe writer,
long-serving Cuisine magazine food editor Lauraine Jacobs.

In her helpful and encouraging introduction she says, inter alia,

“My aim as a recipe writer is to inspire confidence. Food does not have to be complex or smart to be enjoyed. It does not need to be copied from a master chef, or taken from a complicated book. But food must be cooked with confidence and every cook should develop his or her own repertoire of favourite recipes that are reliable and faithful.”

And then she goes on to provide us with 133 of her own favourite recipes culled from the many hundreds of recipes she has published over the past 20 years in Cuisine.

The book opens with 12 Menu Planners – Celebration of Spring Dinner, Lazy Summer Lunch, Summer Barbecue Dinner, Ultimate Christmas Feast, Late Harvest Autumn Dinner, Warming Winter Dinner, Vegetarian Entertaining, Light and Healthy Dinner, My Favourite Dinner Party and Another Favourite Dinner Party.
This is followed by Quick Midweek Dinner Solutions and then the 133 recipes follow starting with fish, vegetables, chicken, meat and desserts.

Each recipe, and most have their own page, has a headnote which appears above the list of ingredients, where the author suggests why you might cook this particular dish while providing insights as to how to do it.

It is a large, sumptuous publication filled with mouth-watering photographs from specialist food photographer Kieran Scott.
A couple of pictures of dishes we made at our place during January, both of with were greatly acclaimed were a main course of a wonderful oriental lamb dish and for dessert apricot and lemon crepe cake. I wanted to show pics of these two but the colours were so distorted I felt in respect to Kieran Scott's amazing shots they couldn't be reproduced. But have a look at pages 135 and 211 of the confident cook and you'll understand why the dishes were so well received.