It’s two weeks since the LIANZA Award Night when a dream came true. I was speechless, literally, not having prepared one and unable to think of a thing to say when the medal was pressed into my hand. For the last few days I’ve been checking the back to see that yes, it really is my name engraved there. This is the oldest award for children’s writing in NZ, and I am blown away by it being given to The Travelling Restaurant.
The Travelling Restaurant:
“In this story adults are not reliable. Jasper has to deal with abandonment and serious trust issues which is not helped by being ‘Skinny. Plain. And apparently not very bright.’ These difficulties do not get in the way of us sailing effortlessly through this fairytale in which all the characters are recognisable. Fontania is ruled by the evil, vain Lady Gall – pumped up and beautified by scientifically manufactured ‘beauteen.’ Science rules and magic has been outlawed since ‘the great accident’. The imagined world is mapped on the end papers visually affirming the breadth of Jasper’s travels. The text is bursting with stunning vocabulary, alliteration, onomatopoeia and phrases the reader returns to and re-reads for simple pleasure. Imagine ‘sailing through fog … like moths wings’ or that Jasper’s …’ throat hurt with missing his parents’. The dialogue is brilliant, understated in that it leaves spaces for the reader to work out conversational connections leading to the next piece in the tale. And funny. Very funny. All the fairytale elements are here, battles, symbols, goodies and baddies, treachery and true friendship. Importantly, the characters are well fed. The cooking and sailing descriptions are terrific and we learned quite a bit about pies and tricky shipping maneuvers.”