The Fairies of Kawakawa
is a book that just had to be written and deserves to be read.
The official promotional blurb says:
"When Alice discovers fairies in her local forest, she is horrified to discover the trees are to be felled. Can she save the fairies and their ancestral home?
"A delightful New Zealand novel for children 6-10 years."
The author, Tiffany Wagstaff, says the book was inspired by her daughter Alice, who is also the "star" of the story.
"Partly, there are things that I wanted her to know about growing up in New Zealand, her relationship with the environment and very big picture values."
The cover depicts a New Zealand bush scene, in the middle of which is a gumbooted Alice, sitting on the ground.
"This is the forest at our house. A strong influence was Te Ao Maori concepts of manaakitanga, kaitiaki and aroha ... that was the driving force. Another part of it was that there is a whole generation of children now — and many generations to come — that are growing up with a life influenced by two strong, beautiful cultures. It's getting better as time goes on, but there's a long way to go. Her world, in particular, will be bilingual, as much as possible. I couldn't find a fairytale that captured that, so I did it, I wrote one."
Tiffany is a teacher and team leader at Te Puni Ako Ki Totara Puku early learning centre attached to Whanganui East School, is completing a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, and is also a marriage celebrant. She and her partner Paul have two children, Alice and Gretta.
Tiffany is a book person.
"I go to Paige's [Book Gallery] when I'm having a bad day.
"I have been writing my whole life but never wanted to be published." She has written "angsty" teenage poetry, loved writing assignments and essays, and loves the stories associated with her job.
While it is a story about Alice and nga Patupaiarehe (fairies of Maori folklore), Tiffany says the book is about 80 per cent true. She and Paul are in it, the landscape and landmarks actually exist and the dog in the book is real.
"People could visit Kawakawa," she says.
The book was supposed to be a small affair just for Alice, but Tiffany's sister, Amber, suggested she get it published.
"Lots of children will be like Alice — growing up with two powerful influences, so I thought, let's not keep it to myself, let's get it out."
Her next book will be for Gretta and it's going to be about pirates.
Published by Rangitawa Press, The Fairies of Kawakawa is available at Paige's Book Gallery from July 1 and retails for $25.