The New Zealand Festival Writers Week programme (Fri 7 - Wed 12 March) has just been released. It is crammed full of wonderful talks and sessions - and it's the best Writers Week for years for anyone interested in books (both writing and illustrating) for children and young adults.
This session is top of my list:
Sat 8 March 12.15pm: An hour with much-loved local author Jack Lasenby, in conversation with Kate De Goldi. Jack Lasenby is the patron of the WCBA and it would be great to see lots of WCBA members there. But it's on at the Hannah Playhouse which is not a big venue and tickets have been on sale for some time, so you might need to be quick to get in.
If you are wondering what else to choose, here are a few more suggestions (Sunday in particular looks like a busy day):
Sun 9 March 9.15am: Creating readers - results of a survey of 7,000 young readers about their reading habits, by Kids Lit Quiz creator Wayne Mills and early childhood specialist Celeste Harrington
Sun 9 March 10.45am: Kei reira nga weriweri: Learn to read a classic picture book (Where the wild things are) in te reo Maori.
Sun 9 March 12.15pm: An hour with Swedish writer Ulf Stark, in conversation with his translator and publisher in New Zealand, Julia Marshall of Gecko Press.
Sun 9 March 3.15pm: The man that books built - an hour with Francis Spufford, author of The child that books built, in conversation with Kate De Goldi. (Spufford also appears in another session on Sat 8 March at 12.15pm: Having faith in the 21st century.)
Sun 9 March 6pm: an invitation from Gecko Press to the launch of Mary McCallum's first novel for children, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, at St James Theatre
Mon 10 March 9.15am: Ideas that go bang! - an hour with Belgian illustrator and writer Leo Timmers, in conversation with Simon Waterfield, award-winning designer for Learning Media
Mon 10 March 10.45am: Comicsville - this session includes cartoonist, writer and illustrator Dylan Horrocks.
Mon 10 March 12.15pm: Idea + design + text = ? with Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinksy (who produced the brilliant H.O.U.S.E. and D.E.S.I.G.N. books.)
Mon 10 March 4.45pm NZ Book Council lecture by Eleanor Catton. However, if you do book this, be prepared to shove your way out of the crowds at the Embassy and sprint across town for:
Mon 10 March 6.15pm 2014 Janet Frame Memorial Lecture by Gavin Bishop. This is an annual literary "state of the nation" speech sponsored by the NZSA and given by the NZSA President of Honour. This year, Gavin proposes to focus on "the value and standing of children's literature and of illustration." (Gavin's talk is second on my list.)
Wed 12 March 4.45pm: Letting the ghosts in - an hour with Elizabeth Knox, in conversation with Steven Gale
And for some lucky illustrators, there are two workshops:
Live drawing with Leo Timmers, Mon 10 March 2pm (2 hrs; $45)
Icons, symbols and illustration (with the Mizielinksys), Wed 12 March 9.30am (2 hrs; $45)
Most sessions are $18 (some are more) which means you have to pick and choose carefully, but there is also free stuff:
Big ideas for breakfast, from 7.45am on Mon 10 - Wed 12 March at the Jimmy Cafe and Bar, St James Theatre. (Free except for the price of an early morning coffee.)
The Curioseum: stories read by Joy Cowley, Kyle Mewburn, Jo Randerson, Dave Armstrong, Antonio Te Maioha and Elizabeth Knox at Te Papa, Sat 8 March 20pm in Te Marae
And there is plenty, plenty more - get hold of a copy of the programme or look it up online and try and get along to some of these sessions. It would be great for the Writers Week organisers to see how much we appreciate having talks in there that are directed at members of the children's writing and illustrating community.