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Interview: Hydie Balle-Hands talks about Andy & The Little Rimu Tree

Hydie Balle-Hands graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) from Unitec Institute of Technology. Andy and The Little Rimu Tree is her debut children’s picture book. Hydie talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about the story Andy & The Little Rimu Tree.

Andy & The Little Rimu Tree is a delightful story about how things that may appear to look bad at first, can turn into little or big blessings. Andy is given an opportunity to wish upon a little rimu tree and because he believed in his heart, these wishes were granted.

It is about having a positive belief. It has a positive message for children teaching them that they can turn what was once something sad into something happy. Andy & The Little Rimu Tree has beautiful illustrations and colouring pages as well.

What inspired you to write this book?

My nephew and I were playing a game of pirates some years ago and he (out of the mouth of babes) said that ‘He was going on important pirate business.’ That quirky comment inspired me with the idea for my story of Andy & The Little Rimu Tree. It was also my desire to use my creative talents that inspired me to write this book.

What research was involved?

The main research I did was learning how to write for children and self-publish a picture book. I also did design research for the illustrations.

What was the routine or process for writing this book?

As most authors work another job to fund their passion, I wrote and worked on my picture book Andy & The Little Rimu Tree on my days off.

How did I work with the illustrator Nhat Hao Nguyen?

I communicated with him online, it was good but English was his second language, so it wasn’t always straight forward. I came up with the design of the illustrations and he drew them wonderfully.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book name a song or two that you would include.

I would probably choose a couple of instrumental songs. A composition by Peter Crowley.

What did you enjoy most about creating Andy & The Little Rimu Tree?

I actually really enjoyed designing the illustrations. Visual art is another passion of mine!

What do I hope children take away from the book?

I hope they enjoy reading the story or having special time with a loved one reading it to them. I also hope that they receive the positive message of the power of believing from this story. I know the children will love the love illustrations and colouring in the colouring pages at the back of the book.

What did I do to celebrate finishing the book?

My husband and I went out for a celebratory drink at our local restaurant the Good Home.


What is my favourite book I have read so far this year and why?

I have been reading NZ nature books this year, well mainly looking at the pictures! But I especially enjoyed Andrew Crowe’s A mini guide to the identification of New Zealand Native Trees. I have it tucked in my dog walking bag, so when Beau and I go walking I can look at all the beautiful native trees around my local neighbourhood.

What is next on the agenda for you?

I am currently working on my next picture book which has been a lot of fun so far.

Beau Books


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