A Haiku a Day

Zee Southcombe

These are some of the haiku I wrote for Green Bay Writers‘ Challenge, which was to write a haiku everyday. I’d never written a haiku before, and only dabbled in poetry, so it was a creative challenge that stretched me out fantastically.

Forgotten future,
Built on possibilites –
Why did you leave me?

Hold me. Embrace me.
Let me close my eyes, and
pretend I am loved.

Bang! Crash! Slam, slam, slam!
“What’s wrong with you?” – everything /
nothing / I don’t know.

I beg you tell me,
Whose face do you show the world?
For it is not yours.

Are you friends with both
soaring hope and dark, cold fear?
Or, has love left you?

From silence is born
words of Truth from the devil.
The angels take note.

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Children’s Book Awards announced tonight

Only a couple of hours to go and we will know the winners of this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. How exciting. To make the wait a bit more bearable, here are some snippets from what Green Bay reviewers thought of the finalists:

Little boy in Room 19 (new entrants) on The Boring Book: ‘It’s true. We live in a word world.’

Several 5- and 6- year-olds on Aunt Samantha’s panther from Tucan Can: ‘I like the bklack tiger.’

Susan about Mortal Fire: ‘After a slow start, after chapter seven I was finally sold, the story flew along. From that moment on I was very hooked in and I wanted to find out what happens next.’

Lana on ANZAC Day – The New Zealand Story: ‘This book made me think. How would it feel to go to war and knowing that you had an 80% chance not going back home?’

Lana on Wearable Wonders: ‘I believe that anyone who wants to be a fashion designer or a back stage runway organizer should definitely pick up this book.’

And finally some artist impressions by Green Bay Primary students. Enjoy!

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‘When We Wake’ by Karen Healey

reviewed by Rowan, Teacher at Green Bay Primary

Karen Healey has written a fast moving futuristic book about a girl who was killed and wakes up from being cyronically frozen 100 years later in the year 2128. She is the first person the army revived in the whole time they had been conducting their experiments. Tegan is an example to the population of that time of a huge amount of money that they thought had been a waste and another person being a burden on their society considering the lack of food and facilities that they have.

 She goes from being in an army hospital to living with the doctor (Marie) who gave her life, and going to a school for the privileged. Tegan has to catch up quickly. At school she meets teenagers who are from privileged backgrounds. Her best friend is Betharii who is a Muslim and gay. She also meets Abdi Taalib who is a singing sensation and had been brought into Australia from Asia. She manages to actually get him to sing, somehitng he has not done since he entered Australia. With the help of these friends and Joph, a chemistry student,  Tegan needs to decide what kind of life she chooses to lead. The furture is a dangerous place, full of rules and pitfalls Tegan only slowly gets her head around.  She comes across an unsettling military secret, which sends her on a thrilling and dangerous odyssey in the Pacific region.

This is a thought provoking book about the future aimed at teenage readers. I would actively encourage teenage readers and indeed adults for a thought provoking view of the future. As an author Karen Healey is one I will be reading again.

‘Speed Freak’ by Fleur Beale

reviewed by Sharon Giacon, Green Bay School Librarian

Archie, 15 years old and third generation kart racer, is focussed on winning sponsorship to race the internationals in Portugla in the sport he lives and breathes. The story follows Archie through this curcial season of kart racing supported by his dad, short tempered grandfather and newly acquired ‘step brother’ Felix, through Archie’s nely blended family.

Archie is an honest, likeable character who remains unflappable and strategic on the track as his main rival Craig aims to beat him whatever it takes.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I was drawn into the story, enjoying a sport I know little about. author Fleur Beale once again writes an absorbing well paced story suitable for both boys and girls of intermediate age who enjoy the thrill of the race track.

‘The Boring Book’ written and illustrated by Vasanti Unka

reviewed by the junior classes at Green Bay Primary

To my shame, I must admit that, at first, I did not get this book. Then, after reading it to several groups of five- and six-year-olds, I finally got it. This book needs to be read aloud, to be performed.

In a Q&A for Booksellers NZ author Vasanti Unka, who says this books comes from ‘one of her silly ideas’, muses, when asked about the target audience for this book: “The book’s message is something I really believe in. [..] [T]he book does seem to have found its own audience. Kids are more sophisticated than we give them credit for and I hear of so many kids from 4 upwards and heaps of adults who love the book.” And this is exactly what I have observed. The children who had the most fun with this book were the ones who cannot actually read very well yet.

The illustrations go from intentionally bleak and boring to an explosion of words and colour. Words escape from drab standardised books and spill out into the world, because words need to be free.

Words are the text, words are the illustrations, words are the message.

After the last reading to a class of just-turned-five-year-olds (Go Room 19!), a silence fell across the room. The children looked around and started pointing at alphabet lists and individual words displayed along the walls. It’s true, they said. Words are everywhere. A very wise boy in the back row slowly raised his hand and said: “We live in a word world”.

We do, indeed. And it’s no boring one.

‘The Boring Book’ is certainly a firm favourite among the young ones.

P.S. It really helps, if you pretend to fall asleep halfway through the first page.

 

For the full Q&A see below.

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Q&A with Vasanti Unka, author of The Boring Book (Puffin) for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: 

  1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?Yes, I’ve always been accused of having lots of silly ideas. This one I managed to verbalise to Katie Haworth who was the children’s commissioning Editor at Penguin.Whenever I bumped into her she’d ask if I’d written ‘that book’ yet. It was probably her urging that made me think that this silly idea I had might actually be a good idea.
  2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book? The journey from manuscript to published work was honestly dreamlike. I enjoyed every aspect of it. I’ve been involved in children’s books before, either designing or illustrating them. But as this book was my ‘baby’ (it really feels like its a piece of me) I pushed myself hard to make sure it was amazing. However, the biggest challenge I faced was that as I have never written a fictional book before, I constantly felt inadequate. One day during the process, my younger brother died. The understanding of the fleeting nature of life became very acute to me. I made myself stop listening to the girl inside me who was telling me, “You can’t write, give up!”
  3. Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written? I didn’t tailor the book to a particular audience. I know I am supposed to. The book’s message is something I really believe in. For me it was important to convey the message succinctly, illustrate in a way that was authentically me but also ensure it was pure fun. Despite all that, the book does seem to have found its own audience. Kids are more sophisticated than we give them credit for and I hear of so many kids from 4 upwards and heaps of adults who love the book.
  4.    Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way? I was inspired by a couple of books that fully utilise design to accentuate their message. One book I love is, Sara Fanelli’s, The Onion’s Great Escape. While you read this beautifully illustrated book you are prompted to answer questions about yourself. At each page you can peel off a layer – the book ends up being shaped like an onion.
  5. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book? My holiday book memories are mostly filled by NZ authors. Patricia Grace, Maurice Gee. Lloyd Jones, Elizabeth Knox. This year it was Eleanor Catton’s, The Luminaries of course. It seems apt to me to read NZ stories when surrounded by our dramatic countryside and beaches.
  6.   What are your favourite things to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why? My favourite thing to do when I’m not reading or writing is drawing, making concoctions in the kitchen  or  making crafty kind of stuff.

The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg

reviewed by Christen Schonberger, Room 2, Green Bay Primary

This is the story of Princess Haya of Jordan who brings up a horse and follows her dream. When Princess Haya is three yerars old,  tragedy strikes her family and she is given a foal to help her over her grief.

I really like this book. I think it’s amazing how a girl who is very little can ride a horse and get a horse that is just born for her birthday and grow up to ride the horse in an important cup event.

I also really like the cover and the other pictures. The picture of her jumping over a car is cool. I nearly cried when the princess was separated from the horse while being at boarding school.

The book really made me think, whether I would like to train as hard as this girl does.  The only thing I think the author could have done better is to let the loosing team perform a bit better in the cup, or at least one of them. But other than that it was great! 

‘Bugs’ by Whiti Hereaka

reviewed by Melanie Wittwer

 Bugs, as in Bunny, is a 16-year-old girl living in Taupo with her mother. Bugs is conflicted like any 16-year-old. She wants more for herself than her mother’s dead-end job. But she is at a disadvantage as a girl and a Maori in a town that has little to offer. Bugs’ friend Jez is a source of calm in her life, until new girl Stone Cold arrives on the scene. Stone Cold seems to have it all but appreciate nothing – a juxtaposition to Bugs’ modest lifestyle with her hard-working mother and Jez’s all out poverty and struggle with his mother’s ever changing no-good boyfriends. There is a lot of tension in these friendships, as their teenage decision making leads them all onto different paths.

Bugs is a no-nonsense story, which brilliantly toys with the reader’s expectations. The book deals with issues a 16-year-old would encounter in real life and therefore calls for a certain maturity in the reader. Bugs, as a narrator, relates her struggles, her puzzlement at life with refreshing honesty. Nothing is glossed over; we are in Bugs‘ head. This is exactly which makes this book such a compelling read: the absence of moral finger wagging. It is what it is. And what it is, is good.