Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Space Gum

Last night I had the pleasure of being the MC for the launch of Dunedin Writer, and dear friend, Tania Roxborogh’s latest children’s novel, Space Gum. I’m not sure if she asked me to do this because I’m her friend, or because I had the loudest voice and am good at bossing around a crowd. Whatever her motivation, I was chuffed to have the honour.

The Dunedin Public Library’s Dunningham suite was abuzz with Tania’s friends and family, fellow writers and what seemed like most of her students from Columba College. It was a very warm spring evening and the library had thrown open the doors to a large and lovely fourth floor balcony I didn’t even realise was there. To have so many children and teenagers present and so obviously appreciative of Tania’s work (her books, and on them as pupils,) made it a special evening.

Space Gum was launched by Trish Brooking, a senior lecturer at the Otago University College of Education. Tania mentioned later in her speech that a number of the pranks involved in Space Gum, of which there are many, came from examples bragged about by College of Ed staff, including the infamous farting car. (You’ll have to read the book)

Barbara Larsen of Longacre Press also spoke, talking of the need to capture life-long readers. Longacre’s dedication to publishing great fiction for children and young adults is surely helping there. It was great to look out across a roomful of avid, young readers.

Here are the notes for my introduction to the evening, minus the being bossy bits.

Welcome everyone and on behalf of Tania, the Dunedin Public Library and Longacre Press I’d like to thank you for coming out this evening to celebrate the launch of Tania Roxborogh’s latest children’s novel Space Gum. This is the second time this year we have had the pleasure of gathering and celebrating with Tania the wonderful achievement of seeing one of her writing projects come to fruition. Tania is one of these extraordinary people in life who manages to lead a very full life, and I mean very, yet manages to achieve that thing so many people dream of - to write and have published books. And not just any books. This is where Tania’s versatility shines through. She has written books to educate, books to entertain, books to inspire, books to help us to help our kids, and books our kids love to read. Tania has managed to do this in her very busy world while also devoting herself to the things so important in her life; her family here tonight, Phillip, Mackenna and Brianna, her lovely doggies, her students at Columba College where she teaches full-time, her church and her friends. Tania is the poster girl for the fact that if you make the time, make that appointment with yourself to write because it means that much to you, you can achieve your goals. The fact that we are here tonight is a testament to making time, and to the value of passion and dogged determination.

I read and loved Space Gum, but I’m not an eight-year old boy. Luckily I had to hand one I’d prepared earlier. After hearing the readings at the launch, and chuckling his way through the farting car bit, he grabbed my copy of Space Gum off me, plonked himself in a chair (in the semi-upside down and squiggling around very active fashion that boys do) and proceeded to devour the book.

Here are Mr Eight-year old’s comments on Space Gum:

I liked the pranks, they were really funny, especially the farting car and the toilet seat.

I liked how Carl's mystery solving skills were put to the test.

I liked Coca the dog and I liked how Carl's mum and Jenny got doing pranks too.

It was a really good book.

There, out of the mouth of an eight year old.

No comments: