NZ Writer & Illustrator
Tania Atkinson, illustrated by Viv Walker
Over the Hill to Greytown
ISBN 978 0 4732 5252 6
Themes: Greytown, New Zealand/ New Zealand history/ Repetitive stories/ Rimutaka Hill Road/ Stories in rhyme/ True stories
Around 1850, three seedling gum trees were stolen from outside the Rising Sun Hotel in Greytown. They had been left there by a recently arrived English migrant, Samuel Oates and his companion, Fairweather, who had walked all the way from Wellington pushing a barrow over the rudimentary Rimutaka Hill track with the trees and other goods. They had dropped in to the pub to quench their thirst. The trees were planted out in Greytown by the thieves and one can still be seen today in the St Luke’s Anglican churchyard. .
Tania Atkinson and illustrator Viv Walker have taken this great story and turned it into a nursery rhyme picture book for younger New Zealanders although older children will enjoy it as well. On the way over the hill, Samuel Oates who for the sake of story is now travelling alone, gives rides in the barrow to a host of animals, birds and at one stop, two small children and all the time the barrow gets bigger and bigger to accommodate them. This is a wonderfully repetitive story to read aloud with much opportunity to join in. I read it to four-year-old twins last weekend who, if they don’t like what I am sharing with them simply join hands, get up and walk away. This time they sat entranced and shouted out the words as the pattern became clear to them. The charming illustrations have been meticulously matched to the story and the end pages show Samuel, his wife and children growing older as the tree and their house grows much, much bigger.
There is a great air of cheerfulness about this whole publication and the added bonus of a possible trip to see the tree in Greytown all add to its charm.
Preschool up/ Age 4 up
I was privileged to be asked to launch this book last night in Wellington (it had already been launched (twice) in the Wairarapa) and about 40 people piled into the ever-hospitable Children’s Bookshop out at Kilbirnie.
Tania and Viv are in the middle of the image. I can’t imagine what I was saying but it seems to be making them laugh and, in the case of John McIntyre, smile.
Lynne Jackett took the photo.