Late in 2013 I received the Betty Gilderdale Award for Services to
Children's Literature in New Zealand, presented by Storylines Children's Literature Association. Award-winners are asked to present the Spring Lecture: "a presentation that can be about any aspect of
your life and work associated with children's literature." Tessa Duder presented the Betty Gilderdale Award in Christchurch on 28 November 2013. Below is the text of my speech on 28 November 2013.
2. Professional experience with children’s books:
The golden age started pretty much as I started teaching, with the three Graces: skilled writers, all achieving international success with great stories. Margaret Mahy’s A Lion in the Meadow (1969) and Joy Cowley’s The Duck in the Gun (1969) were triumphs, but for me - teaching at Hillmorton High School in Christchurch - it was Elsie Locke’s The Runaway Settlers (1965) that gave life to our local history. Our school badge was Cracroft Wilson’s tiger and his two famous houses are quite close. Mrs Small’s grave is in the churchyard at Governors Bay but Elsie Locke brought her back to life.
A steady stream of NZ novels, picture books and short stories followed. In my History and Social Studies classes, as well as in my English teaching, I used Joanna Orwin and Eve Sutton’s great stories about New Zealand’s early history. Hillmorton High School had a brilliant library because of two very able women, Dr Helen Hogan, who is still writing books and the late Thelma Easton, the only school librarian I know who has had a library named after her.
As well as new books, I also entered previously published titles and author biographies. This mean that I spent a lot of time up in the Margaret Mahy Collection of New Zealand children’s books in Christchurch Central Library – the building’s gone now but they saved the books.
For new books, I would go to the Children’s Bookshop in Victoria St - another building lost in the earthquakes - and the owner, Sheila Sinclair, would let me sit quietly down the back making notes. After a while the publishers started sending me review copies of their books.
Meanwhile Bruce Rennie, the literary editor of The Press, had decided to give more space to children’s literature, using Bob Docherty to review young adult novels and me to do the picture books. Space is always at a premium as newspapers face shrinking advertising revenue, so this was a brave decision by Bruce. It also gives me (and Bob) a chance to get continuity of coverage and to emphasise quality. As a bonus our reviews also appear in the Waikato Times and the Dominion Post.
• Enchantment and wonder
• Authentic emotional engagement (free from sentimentality)
• Intellectual and educational challenges
• Nourishment for learning development
• Imaginative journeys?”
2. Decide who will be reading your review:
3. Read the book:
8. Keep it Short, Sweetie:
9. Check and check again:
10. Enjoy it: