Watch Out Snail
By Pamela Meekings-Stewart
Stop Press: Pukerua Bay author makes NZ Listener list of 50 Best Children’s Books for 2013.
Author Gay Hay and illustrator Margaret Tolland’s children’s book, ‘Watch Out, Snail’ is another hit with children. Their first book, ‘Fantail’s Quilt’, made the same NZ Listener list in 2011 and was featured as a ‘recommended read’ on the Good Morning website. Renowned children’s author Gavin Bishop said of Fantail’s Quilt, “There is much to talk about behind the elegant pictures and evocative words”. Both books also appear in te reo translated by Piripi Walker. Not to let the grass grow, Gay now has a third book, ‘Go Green Gecko’, ready for publication in 2014.
So what prompted Gay to set out on this writing and publishing adventure?
In 2000 Gay stopped teaching and decided to take the Whitireia Creative Writing Course. As a school librarian she was critical of books available for children. She worried that schools were buying cheap and children were getting information for school projects without doing their own research. Gay wanted children to understand narrative and to be informed.
Her motivation for ‘Fantail’ was an article in NZ National Geographic about rats and mice taking eggs from a fantail nest. She told this story to children and they were aghast. There was the idea for her first book. ‘Watch Out, Snail’ and ‘Go Green Gecko’ followed and Gay has several more ‘on the boil’. ‘Learning by reading’, is her catch cry and she believes rich literature gives children exciting oral language. To learn more go to their web site. Hay and Tolland plan to continue producing picture books that entertain and educate children about New Zealand’s fascinating native wildlife.
Gay Hay is an environmental enthusiast and educator. She can often be found around Pukerua Bay helping clean up a beach, weeding a public plot and helping children raise seedlings at Pukerua Bay School, an Enviro School. As a volunteer for Nga Uruora Trust restoration project she has helped local school children plant and nurture more than 6000 trees.