Author shares stories from farm on school visit

By Liz Wylie

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Visiting children's writer Jennifer Somervell with Turakina School pupils Annabel Bidby 6, Libby Hoban 6, and Taiaha Ihaia 10. WGP 18Apr16 - INSPIRED: Turakina School pupils Annabel Bidby, 6
Visiting children's writer Jennifer Somervell with Turakina School pupils Annabel Bidby 6, Libby Hoban 6, and Taiaha Ihaia 10. WGP 18Apr16 - INSPIRED: Turakina School pupils Annabel Bidby, 6

Growing up on a farm in New Zealand provides rich fodder for stories, and North Canterbury's Jennifer Somervell has taken the best gems from her family store.
The writer has turned them into a series of children's books - Tales From the Farm.
At Turakina School last week, she shared The Day Dad Blew Up the Cowshed with a cluster of young readers and writers from Turakina, Mangamahu and Whangaehu primary schools.
The book received an honourable mention at the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in 2012, and two of her subsequent books have won first place at the awards.
The tale of the exploding cowshed went down well with the young audience, as Somervell read lines like: "And great chunks of cowshed crashed back from the sky, like meteorites hurtling to Earth!"
Somervell explained how her father, Rea Somervell, wanted to replace the old shed with a new rotary or "merry-go-round" cowshed like the one developed by Merv Hicks of Eltham in Taranaki.
"It was a memorable and exciting event for me and my sisters and brothers," said Somerville.
Sharing memories of life on a Hawkes Bay farm with her siblings inspired the writer to start the series and her sister, Margery Fern, is her collaborator and illustrator.
Answering questions and offering tips on writing, Somervell advised the audience to write about topics they know well and to write ideas down often. "I keep a folder especially for that and some of my books have come from ideas that I have written down on scraps of paper," she said.
The writer also shared excerpts from the book she is working on - a tale of two pigs named Napoleon and Josephine - and asked for audience feedback on ideas for a title.
She was offered a few good ideas and will consider them alongside ones offered from other schools she has visited.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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