Has Palmerston North produced New Zealand’s answer to the Brontë Sisters?

3 October 2011

A collection of poems and stories by New Zealand children - being published next week by New Zealand Post - has uncovered a wealth of young talent - including three sisters from Palmerston North who might one day give the Brontë sisters a run for their money.

“Submerged: Magical Tales by Kiwi Kids” features more than 50 talented young writers aged between 5 and 12 from across the country – from Culverden to Waipukurau, from Kamo to Tirau to Whangaparaoa and Hawera.  Their pieces were selected from more than 4,400 entries received from children throughout New Zealand.

The published works – selected by a panel of New Zealand authors - include pieces by several sets of siblings – including Taupo’s Bixley sisters (Mina 12, and Zoe 10), and Gisborne’s Coogan sisters (Keira 6, and Isla 8).

But three Palmerston North siblings – the Williams sisters - have achieved an unprecedented trifecta - each earning a place in the “Submerged” collection.

The similarities to England’s famous Brontë sisters don’t end there – the Williams sisters have the given names Charlotte (10), Emily (6) and... well the third sister is named Madeleine (8) not Anne, but two out of three isn’t bad!

Charlotte contributes a poem which richly evokes autumnal splendour, Madeleine’s poem distils the essence of fire, while the youngest Williams sister, Emily, contributes a delightful story about a girl whose joyous singing leads her on a gravity-defying adventure.

Elsewhere the book contains a wealth of gems, from the touching to the hilarious, which evoke smiles, laughter and, in some instances, tears.

“There are some very powerful pieces from Canterbury kids, relating their experiences and feelings about this year’s terrible earthquakes,” New Zealand Post’s head of sponsorship Nicola Airey says.

“There are also heartfelt tributes to family members, and a lot of very evocative pieces which bring back your own childhood and what it means to be a Kiwi. At the other end of the scale there are some very funny pieces, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

“The quality of writing is astonishingly high, and we’ve worked with Learning Media on this book to ensure other school-age kids can use these stories and poems as part of their education.

“New Zealand Post is proud to be associated with “Submerged”, which helps promote literacy and young writers, while bringing together pieces by some of our best and brightest literary hopes for the future.

“We do a lot of work to support literacy, including sponsoring the New Zealand Post Book Awards and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the kids in this book end up on a shortlist for those awards in the years ahead,” Nicola Airey said.

“Submerged: Magical Tales by Kiwi Kids” goes on sale on Monday 10 October 2011 from PostShops and selected booksellers.