Back in 2014, well-known author Kate de Goldi approached Gecko Press publisher Julia Marshall with an idea aimed to revitalize the reading experience for upper primary school children and create lifetime readers. Those children, and their families, are lucky Marshall jumped at the opportunity and took a punt on Annual.
“We wanted Annual to be a game changer in New Zealand publishing for children. Readers in this age group are smarter than every and hungry for sophisticated, wide-ranging material,” De Goldi says.
Paris has 15 years experience in publishing, including nine as editor of that Kiwi classic The School Journal. There is definitely echoes of the Journal in Annual, so it was like a lovely walk down memory lane for older readers outside of the target demographic.
The 136-page miscellany of stories, comic strips, essays, satire, how-tos, poems, games and puzzles is an exciting addition to the New Zealand literary scene. It includes a dictionary of words to use on car trips, a maths-nerd’s memories, an unlucky zebra, and the Naked Grandmother board game, among other pieces all commissions from 41 Kiwi authors and illustrators.
There was not a page of this collection that disappointed me. Each commissioned piece is absolute perfection. The numerous pieces inspired by artworks and photographs are wonderful. It was fascinating and challenging to both see the piece and read the author’s interpretation of it. Looking for Saner Climates is almost too clever (and yes, I had to ‘cheat’ and check the answers at the back), while Lost Items is both funny and charming.
There really is something for every reader in Annual. While not normally a comic fan, the ones included are funny and smart, hooking me in rather than making me skip pages. As a child I was crying out for something like this, it’s wonderful that it now exists.
It is the book all bookworms will love – a luscious hardback publication with beautiful paper and fresh design is the cherry on the top. De Goldi and Paris have done a stellar job pulling it all together and I hope there are many more editions to follow.