Friday, 20 February 2015


Julia Donaldson (a miss (for me!) )/ Paraparaumu School (a hit )/ Janet Slater Bottin (a hit)

Julia Donaldson signs a book at St Peters Church in Wellington
I was really excited at the thought of meeting Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) last Thursday. I had done a telephone interview with her the last time she was here but this would be face to face – well as close as I could get to the ‘stage’ as I knew it would be a highly popular event. I carefully left home at Waikanae to drive into Wellington at 4-30pm (it is just under an hours drive) and thought that would give me plenty of time to get to the event at the top of Willis Street – it was advertised to start at 6-30pm. Alas I struck two lots of grid locked traffic and then there was nowhere to park when I did arrive – at 7-45pm. I had had to walk from Te Papa and came through the door to the sound of enthusiastic applause – the show had just finished. I did manage to get some images (rather blurred - sorry) of Julia signing her books and to have a few words. 

So many books to choose from

On Tuesday I went round to Paraparaumu School where I have been helping sort through the mountains of books donated after the devastating fire late last year destroyed classrooms and the library (including the catalogue). It won’t be fully operational for some time yet and the new library won’t have risen from the ashes for around 18 months but thanks to the tenacity and purpose of Kenzie Benbrook who is in charge of organising the ‘rebuild’ it is almost to a stage where it can be used (with some creativity on the part of the teachers and students). While I was there the door burst open and in came a group of New Entrants clutching book bags and for some who had just begun school this year, experiencing their very first visit to the library. Their teacher had to laboriously write every child’s name and book taken down in a log but she is such an enthusiast she congratulated each child on their choice and said she hoped they would enjoy the book.  There was a great feast of wonderful picture books to enjoy – some brand new thanks to publishers and others donated by libraries and other schools.
Janet talks to a potential reader while her daughter Beth displays the new book
Then last night, Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Janet Slater Bottin (remember The Big Block of Chocolate and The Queue that Grew- -plus 90 other titles for children?) Janet has just written a book for adult readers Moments (for which there are no words) and last night at the Paraparaumu Public Library she read some of the stories from the book at an event organised by The Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries. One of the stories was so sad I had to be handed a box of tissues. If you are interested in this new venture of Janet’s you could contact her at

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