Book award shortlist for Bornholdt

Jenny Bornholdt
Jenny Bornholdt
A former poet laureate who lives in Central Otago is a finalist in the national children's book awards.

Jenny Bornholdt has achieved distinction with her poetry since the 1980s but it was a story based on her son's invented language, as a baby, that has drawn her latest accolade.

Ms Bornholdt's book The Longest Breakfast has been shortlisted in the picture-book category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, it was announced last week.

The Alexandra author said the concept for the book had lingered for some time but her busy schedule and that of illustrator Sarah Wilkins had delayed progress.

The pair worked on A Book is a Book in 2014 and Ms Bornholdt paid tribute to the artist.

``Having Sarah Wilkins as the illustrator was wonderful. We're friends and talked about the story a lot: what the characters would look like, what the kitchen would have in it, what might be outside the window. Her illustrations added a whole other layer to the story,'' she said.

The Longest Breakfast is a book about misunderstanding.

There is a hungry baby who cannot make himself understood, a father who is doing his best to figure out what the baby wants for breakfast, and a host of children - some siblings, some friends - who have their own breakfast favourites and ideas for what could be on the menu.

``Our son, Carlo, was the inspiration for the story,'' Ms Bornholdt said.

``When he was little he had his own language - a result of him substituting some letters for others - which only we and his friend, Greta, could understand. I was thinking about this and about a friend who likes pudding for breakfast and these two things came together in the way that stories sometimes do.''

Ms Bornholdt was named New Zealand's fifth poet laureate, her term lasting from 2005 to 2007.

She said the processes behind writing for children and writing poetry were vastly different.

``You're considering some of the same things though - like rhythm, the sounds of words.

``With children's books you have to think about things like character, the shape of a story, and how to break it into pages.

``Poetry is nothing like that - with poems you're feeling your way in the dark.''

Ms Bornholdt recently finished editing an anthology of short New Zealand poems for Victoria University Press and is working on a new collection.

She and Ms Wilkins also planned to start work on another children's book later in the year.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington on August 8.

Also among the finalists (for junior fiction) is Southland author Pauline Smith for her book My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, which is also up for best first book.


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