Zap! Pow! Flash!

A passion for children’s literature is all that’s required to attend the upcoming annual Bookrapt (Bay of Plenty Children’s Literature Association) seminar in July.

Bookrapt - a group of writers, artists, schoolteachers, librarians, parents and grandparents - all share a passion for children’s literature.

Founded in 1983, the history of Bookrapt is like  a ‘who’s who’ of some of NZ’s top children’s  literature writers.

Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, Elsie Locke, Beverley Dunlop, Betty Gilderdale, Dorothy Butler, Mona Williams, Isabel Weenink, Tessa Duder, Joy Watson, Tommy Wilson and Mere Whaanga-Schollum are just some of the writers at past seminars.

Illustrators have also featured, including Alan Gilderdale, Sharon O’Callaghan, Gavin Bishop, Bryan Pollard and Philip Webb to name a few, while Wendy Pye, Ann Mallinson and Graeme Beattie have each addressed attendees on publishing.

Each seminar has had a whimsical or interesting title, such as ‘From Fireplace to Cyberspace’ (1998), ‘Bantams, Blarney and Books’ (1997) and ‘Blokes and Books’ (2000).

This year the seminar is named ‘Zap! Pow! Flash!’ and features illustrator James Davidson as its keynote speaker, along with author Angie Belcher.

“We are not a writing group, we’re about promoting children’s literature and fostering the love of it,” says Angie. “Although a lot of us are writers, the focus isn’t on the writing side but spreading the word.”

James Davidson’s book ‘Moa’, published in 2017 by Earth’s End Publishing, is a collection of five comics.

Head of Arts at Opunake High School, James takes the reader on a humorous visual journey, combining art with Kiwi slang, Maori legend and some of NZ’s colonial past.

His graphic art has been likened to American Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ series, which is the subject of a Scholastic ‘Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom’ teaching guide.

Phyllis Johnston, who was honoured with an award in 1998 from the NZ Children’s Literature Association for Services to Children’s Literature, originally brought together a group of people to form the local society.

With help from librarians at Tauranga Library, the inaugural meeting saw authors Dame Lynley Dodd, Eve Sutton and Margaret Beames speak about their experiences in writing for children, with Ann Mallinson telling the publisher’s side. ]

Books-A-Plenty provided a display stand.

Some 20 years on, Books-A-Plenty are still strong supporters. In 1985, Isabel Weenink suggested that a collection of prize winning NZ children’s book be started, and named the Joyce West Collection. This growing collection is now housed in Tauranga Library.

Other activities from Bookrapt include involvement with the Hairy Maclary and Friends waterfront sculpture project, supporting local children’s authors and book launches, supporting Bay of Plenty schools participating in the international Kids Lit Quiz, financial support for an annual young writers’ short story competition and providing tutors for school holiday writing workshops.

The 2018 Bookrapt seminar will be held at Tauranga Girls’ College Library on July 28. For details, contact:

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