Famous Tauranga author Dame Lynley Dodd treated children and adults to a reading of her newest book in the Hairy Maclary series yesterday.
It was a rare chance for generations of Hairy Maclary fans to hear the latest tale from the scampering dog and his friends from the woman who created them nearly 30 years ago.
Slinky Malinki Early Bird is a cheeky tale of the mischievous neighbourhood cat stirring trouble by "getting up too early".
Dame Lynley's reading was lapped up by adoring fans - most aged under 5 - who packed out the rear of Grey St store Books A Plenty with cushions and blankets.
Some came with their drawings of Slinky Malinki and many did their best impression of the cat meowing.
Dame Lynley said it had been some time since the release of her last book in the Hairy Maclary series.
"It was in the works but just didn't get finished," Dame Lynley said. "It has been quite a while because I have had to change publishers, so I'm with Penguin now and adding to that there were a lot of things happening."
Some of these things Dame Lynley referred to included the bronze sculpture of Hairy Maclary destined for The Strand next year plus shows being performed in Britain. "So it has been very, very busy," Dame Lynley said.
The last book published was Hairy Maclary Shoo in 2009. Usually Dame Lynley preferred to release a book each year.
To finally celebrate the launch of Slinky Malinki Early Bird was a wonderful feeling, Dame Lynley said.
"It's great to get to this point but, of course, I always want to start again."
Dame Lynley said she already had plenty of ideas for a new book but would not disclose any details, yet. Slinky Malinki Early Bird is the thirteenth book in series since it began in 1983.