• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Kiri Lightfoot talks about Ming's Iceberg


Kiri Lightfoot is originally from Exeter in the UK and now lives in Auckland. She has worked as an author, scriptwriter and in television production. Kiri’s first picture book, Every Second Friday, was a finalist in the 2009 New Zealand Children Book Awards. Ming’s Iceberg, was selected from over 200 submissions as part oft the Scholastic annual Valentine’s Day ‘Share the Love’ event. Kiri talks to NZ Booklovers about her new book.


Tell us a little about Ming's Iceberg.

Ming's Iceberg is the story of a brave and curious emperor penguin who catches a ride on an iceberg to explore the ocean. On her journey she meets an Albatross and a Blue Whale who help her realise her iceberg is disappearing in the warming seas and it might be time for home.


What research was involved in this book?

I have always loved learning about Antarctica. My uncle circumnavigated the continent in a 50 foot yacht in 1970 and I grew up hearing his incredible stories. I came up with the idea for Ming's adventure while learning about icebergs. I think they are amazing! It got me thinking... Do animals go for rides on icebergs? I watched lots of nature documentaries to get me inspired.

How did you work with the illustrator?

Kimberly Andrews did such a fabulous job on Ming's Iceberg. We didn't communicate much although I was able to give feedback at times, but it was usually just "I LOVE THIS!" We did get to meet recently when I travelled down to Wellington and it was so lovely to see her and learn about her process, she is so clever!


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

Wow, ok this is a cool thing to think about. Well, have you ever seen footage of an iceberg calving, or breaking away from an ice shelf? It is very loud - crashing seas and dramatic cracking sounds! I think something dramatic and powerful like Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1. Now you all have to go off and listen to that and imagine a little emperor penguin choosing that moment to jump onto a cracking iceberg to go on an adventure! And something a little different for when she returns to Antarctica and realises how much she has missed home. For that I think of Trinity Roots 'Home Land and Sea', a song that always makes me feel homesick if I’m away from Aotearoa.


What did you enjoy the most about writing this picture book?

I loved creating the characters. Ming is so great for her inquisitiveness and courage - nothing holds her back! And Albert Ross the Albatross and Blue the Whale for just being amazing animals. I loved learning about the impressive journeys they make through the world's oceans.


What do you hope young readers will take away from the book?

I hope they enjoy Ming and all her courage and tenacity. I hope they have the same love of Antarctica and the animals that live there that I do and are reminded that we all need to do our part to protect it because our actions here have an impact.


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I was given 'The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse' by Charlie Mackesy and I think it’s such a work of art. I will always treasure this book and open it for words of precious wisdom when I need it.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

I want Ming to have another adventure with Albert Ross the Albatross! The soundtrack for that one would definitely include 'I believe I can fly!'

I also have a young adult novel that needs me to sit down and actually finish it (and be brave enough to share it!)


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