If you grew up in in the sixties or fifties (or even earlier) you may well have received an Annual for Christmas each year full of stories, poems, articles, activities and jokes. The perfect present to keep you entertained in the summer holidays.
Those were the days when boys and girls got each got their own version. But Annual 2, being a contemporary take on these annuals, is not gender specific. It is also more literary, more quirky and even a little dark in parts which fits what kids like to read now
Some of New Zealand’s most talented writers and illustrators were asked to contribute. Bill Manhire wrote a very witty tale about a dentist who engages his young patient in a one way conversation while filling his tooth. He really wanted to be a vampire which would have been a more exciting occupation but that didn’t turn out to be a serious option
I love the spunky old skateboarding lady (well actually she is a ghost!) in Sarah Johnson’s Phantom Riders. She is such a welcome contrast to the sweet little white haired grandmas who appear all too often in children’s books.
In a piece of flash non-fiction Catharina van Bohemen reminisces very tenderly about the life of her ninety year old Dutch Father when she visits him.
And Lloyd Jones writes a story about an old man who relives the joys of riding the ocean waves.
“The joy I discovered at twelve I have gone on discovering all my life. Each new wave provides a moment of bliss.”
There is a slightly creepy story about a man who was so sorry to lose his beloved Moggy when he was a child that he taught himself the art of taxidermy so at least he could keep her stuffed. He became so good at it that it’s now his job as well as his passion.
For the activities the editors have let their imaginations run wild. A crafter was commissioned to come up with a pattern for a crocheted digestive system. And there is another activity for covering a bunch of balloons with paper mache to make a letterbox so the postie will know that a creative person lives in this house. Best kept out of the rain unless you coat it with polyurethane to make it water proof.
The “Cosmic Pancakes’ in Annual 2 are filled with homemade sauerkraut. My granddaughters prefer their pancakes slathered in maple syrup so I rather doubt if they’ll want to make this recipe right now, but they might come round to it eventually.
Giselle Clarkson has drawn a colourful two page spread of Common Household Biscuits and Slices and invented Latin names for them. The Mallowpuff becomes Chocolatum rorunda and the Melting Moment is labelled Custardis betwixtus.
Bo Runga has composed a beautiful new song which finishes with “Happiness is a thought away so take it wherever you go.
I shared Annual Two with two of our grown-up children. They loved it as much as I did. But all of us agreed that the age suggested on the back cover of the book ‘(9-13) and everyone else’ doesn’t quite fit the content. We think that some of the material is too challenging for 9 year olds, and feel that 11 and up would be better.
So it is fine for our granddaughters and I will be delighted to share this miscellany of fiction, comics, poems, essays, art and high jinks with them.
Annual One came out last year, and this is the second one. I do hope they will become an annual event!
Annual 2 was commissioned and edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris. Published by Annual Ink. RRP $39.99
Reviews by Lyn Potter
Parent and grandparent, Avid traveller, writer & passionate home cook