I think my all-time favourite writer for Young people is Kate de Goldi. I have had the privilege of hearing her speak a number of times, at conferences and hosted in the school libraries I have worked for. She is a writer who is generous with her time and in her promotion of other writers, she is a regular guest on Radio New Zealand reviewing books.
From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle (Longacre, 2015) and won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and won a 2016 Storylines Notable Book Award. In his review of the book for the New Zealand Herald, David Hill(a brilliant writer for young people himself) commented that it was very hard to assign a genre to this book, is it a mystery, a picture book, YA or Adult fiction? Hill proclaims that de Goldi is “a real Renaissance woman”. I think that describes her so accurately. Here is a link to the Radio New Zealand interview with Kim Hill about the book.
Nothing I have ever read by de Goldihas left me disappointed. “Clubs” (2004) was the first of the ‘Lolly Leopold’ stories and a triumph in the genre of sophisticated picture books. Illustrated by Jacqui Colley the books are narrated by the fabulous Lolly Leopold who is a real individual – so much so that when her primary school class starts to divide up into exclusive clubs (Lego, Barbie dolls, Harry Potter, cats) she finds it hard to fit in with any of them. “That whole business of belonging and not belonging, it’s a perennial, obviously. It’s something I remember very clearly from my own primary school years, ” says de Goldi to Herald reviewer David Larsen. Colley and de Goldi were neighbours and so their collaboration is one of mutual respect and admiration for one another’s work. Lolly Leopold’s parents feature in the books with their wonderful reported comments and so does her fabulous teacher, Miss Love who plays the trumpet and empowers her students to think for themselves. The other book in this series is “Billy” (2006) and is just as funny and endearing.
“The 10pm Question” (Longacre 2008) is regarded as a publishing phenomenon and a New Zealand literature classic, winning the 2009 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in the categories of Young Adult Fiction and Book of the Year. It was in the top 10 books of the decade and rightly so. It tells the story of 12-year-old Frankie Parsons who has many worries all of which seem to present themselves at 10pm just as he is going to sleep and mean that he must go and ask his Mum. The characters in the book are very real people who cope with worries of their own in a variety of flawed ways.
Her most recent project is “Annual” (Gecko Press) a collection for 8-12 year olds which she edits along with Susan Paris. Kate De Goldi said of Annual, ‘we wanted Annual to be a game-changer in New Zealand publishing for children. Readers in this age group are smarter than ever and hungry for sophisticated, wide-ranging material.’ Gecko Press also publishes teaching notes to go with the publication.
The list of “other activities” on Kate de Goldies author profile page for Storylines shows how much she invests in the success of others, leading writers’ workshops, on the Board for the New Zealand Book Council and contributing to the Library Trust Board in Bouganville. Kate de Goldie is a vibrant, energetic person who tells the most wonderful stories.
Amanda Bond is a New Zealand ex-pat currently working as Teacher Librarian in an international school in Istanbul, Turkey. Her twitter handle is @kiwionthego