The Power of Language and Stories – The Grimmelings by Rachael King

There's something special about reading a book that describes the countryside around you. The language sounds like home, the scenery is like what you see out your window, and you can imagine yourself taking the place of the characters in the story. These are the types of books that can easily pull the reader in, and the new middle-grade book The Grimmelings is a book that does just that.

The Grimmelings

The Grimmelings is by local writer Rachael King. Rachael is well-known in literary circles as the author of several books (including award-winning children's book Red Rocks, currently in development for television) and past director of WORD Christchurch.

It is a gorgeous book about a young Kiwi girl living in the high country of the South Island, and about what happens when she and her family get caught up in a magical adventure none of them saw coming ...

Published by Allen & Unwin, The Grimmelings easily merges together Scottish folklore and relatable aspects of everyday life in Aotearoa New Zealand.  The story follows thirteen-year-old Ella and her family as they try to come to terms with a missing local boy, their town's belief that they're a family of witches, and a growing realisation that the curse of the kelpies might not just be something you read about in children's books. Written for nine-year-olds and up, this book is perfect for young readers who enjoy stories about horses, the natural world, mythology, and family drama. It balances nicely on the cusp of adventure and security, and danger and safety, and the story rolls along at an enjoyable pace, keeping the reader turning the pages right up to the last page.

The use of language in this book is stunning - as well as being beautifully written, words play an important part in telling the story, and Ella's grandmother introduces her (and the reader) to many new Scottish words and scientific terms for natural phenomenon throughout the story. These little linguistic gems were one of my absolute favourite parts of the this book - next time I see the water in a pool rippling and splashing I will be apple to appreciate its jabble ('the agitation of water; splashing in small ripples'), and next time I can't make a decision I will know I am swithering ('to be uncertain as to which course of action to choose').

Grimmelings itself is a splendid word - it means the first and last gleams of daylight in northern latitudes.

The Grimmelings was launched at Scorpio Books last night, with a large crowd in attendance to hear about her inspiration for the story, and about the writing process. There were great speeches from both Rachael and fellow author Tania Roxborogh who introduced her in fine style.

I particularly enjoyed hearing that much of the writing was done in at Christchurch City Libraries' own Tūranga.

The Grimmelings will be in stock at your local library soon, but in the meantime, place a hold on it (holds are free for most children's items), or check out Rachael King's other titles.

The Grimmelings
by Rachael King
Published by Allen & Unwin

Photos from the launch at Scorpio Books

The Grimmelings on display

More about Rachael King

Interviews and reviews