Canterbury-based children's author Jennifer Somervell had no trouble holding the attention of the Paihia School pupils she met earlier this month.

The youngsters were enthralled by stories of slithery eels, riotous pig escapes and blowing up cowsheds.

The visit, sponsored by the New Zealand Book Council, with funding from Creative New Zealand, was designed to give the children the chance to meet and connect with a real-life author, Ms Somervell reading two of her stories, The Day Dad Blew up the Cowshed and A Very Greedy Tale, while her husband and book researcher Ken Fletcher shared his research into the native longfin eel.

The author's Tales from the Farm series have captured imaginations across the country, featuring real-life adventures experienced with her siblings on their family farm in the 1970s.


"My father was a wonderful storyteller, and I wanted to keep his stories alive," she said. "That's how Tales from the Farm came about.

"My sister Margery is the perfect illustrator — she can picture the stories because she was there."

Junior pupils threw themselves into the role, acting out the pig escape featured in A Very Greedy Tale, while the older children were captivated by the fate of the old walk-through cowshed.

The Day Dad Blew Up The Cowshed, The New Old Truck, The Eel Hunt and A Very Greedy Tale have all won Purple Dragonfly Book Awards for excellence in children's literature.
The latest book in the farm tales series, Uncle Allan's Stinky Leg, was released in October.