WORD Christchurch: The Great Word Story Hunt

What's not to love about a literary event you can take your 6 year-old to? Especially when it involves some amazingly talented and creative people, and it's at kiddo's favourite library, Tūranga? Oh, and it was free. If that's not a no-brainer, I don't know what is.

Our adventure began in the foyer where family groups were handed out clues by a WORD Christchurch volunteer and then spread out through all the floors of the library.

Our first stop was on Auahatanga (Level 4) where Jonathan King had comic page panels, pencils, and helpful suggestions for the kids to create their own stories. While the kids drew he had a drawing tablet hooked up to a big screen so we could see his own The Inkberg Enigma artwork taking shape. Kiddo really enjoyed it and I even learned a new word, namely, "emanata" which are the little squiggles, shapes or lines that emanate from a comic book character and that convey some sense of their emotions. Cool!

Having a go at making comics with Jonathan King
Comic drawing panels and suggestions for comic book elements, including "emanata".

From there our next clue led us back downstairs to where author Elissa Weismann was waiting in a curtained-off storytime area. She introduced the kids to the story in her book The length of a string, which is set partly in contemporary times and partly during the Second World War. She read passages from the book and quizzed the kids about which era each passage was from, but we couldn't stay long because then she gave us the next clue which led to...

The travel section on Tūhuratanga (Level 3) where author Weng Wai Chan was waiting. Her book Lizard's Tale is set in Singapore in 1940 and involves espionage. She told us some very interesting things about spy-craft including the fact that exploding rats were a thing! And the kids got to try their hand and decyphering a coded message (she also showed us her very cool backpack which featured Bespin, the cloud city from The Empire Strikes Back.

Weng Wai Chan talks spies
Children's author Weng Wai Chan fills the kids in on secret spy business

Our next clue led us downstairs again and we marched down them (because it was Halloween and one of us was dressed as a Stormtrooper) to where Leah and Siu of Loopy Tunes were waiting. They invited us to join in on a couple of upbeat, beautifully harmonised bilingual songs before giving us our last clue. 

So march up the stairs again we did to Tuakiri (Level 2) where we got to sit on a mat and have story time and a little bit of an art activity with Selina Tusitala Marsh who had even brought her poet laureate tokotoko with her.

Selina Tusitala Marsh reads from Mophead
Selina Tusitala Marsh reads from Mophead (tokotoko visible in background)

And by the end of all that, one little stormtrooper had started to run out of puff so some lunch was definitely called for but it was a great way to spend a Saturday morning and an excellent way to both get kids exploring all the different parts of Tūranga but also interacting with real, live authors!

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