NZ Book Month – Kaitangata Twitch

kaitangatatwitchKaitangata Twitch by Margaret Mahy

Margaret Mahy writes wonderful books for small children (see for example, one, two and three), and she also writes wonder-full books for older children too. This is the first of her books for older children that I ever read; Granny and Granddad Strange Land gave it to Miss Eleven a couple of years ago (Miss Eleven reads at a very high level, so finding books for her which are challenging and interesting, but commensurate with her emotional age, is a problem, but it’s a good problem to have).

Meredith, the hero of the tale, has strange dreams about the island in the bay. The island is in danger; a developer wants to turn it into a resort. But the island seems to want to be left alone…

Family life, and small town life, and environmentalism, and community, and the supernatural, are woven through this novel. Meredith is a likable hero – just a girl, but a sensitive one. She has integrity and determination, and she is very aware of the nuances of relationships and place, in a way that many girls are. Eventually, she is a witness to the island’s solution, if indeed it is the island’s solution, and the start of a new community, in the utterly familiar way that new communities form all over New Zealand – a new subdivision, some new houses, new people settling in and forming connections that over the course of ten or twenty or thirty years become community.

I sat up late with this book one evening, and woke early and read the rest of it the next morning. It’s a compelling read. I find it remarkable that Margaret Mahy can write so well for very small children, and write superb novels for older children too. She really is a national treasure.

It turns out that there is a TV series. And the ABC has bought it. Miss Eleven and I will be watching for it.


NZBMsmlI’m taking up Ele’s challenge, and blogging a book a day in October, which is New Zealand Book Month. All the books are by New Zealand authors.


4 responses to “NZ Book Month – Kaitangata Twitch

  1. Thanks for that, Deborah. Kaitangata Twitch is going right to the top of the bedside table pile!
    Margaret Mahy also is a dab hand at non-fiction. We’ve just read our way through her history of NZ for children (Awesome Aotearoa) and it is brilliant.
    Another NZ author to recommend (for primary school age children) is Jack Lasenby. Riotous.

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  3. Has the ABC screened this series yet, Deborah? It has been on Maori TV for the last 13 weeks, and the final episode was last night. I thought they did a terrific job of the adaptation, brilliant filming on location in Lyttelton harbour and really strong acting. The girl who played Meredith (Te Waimarie Kessell) was perfectly cast, I thought. My little lad, who is 11, adored the series, and lobbied for a special trip out to Governors Bay to see the jetty and the island.

  4. No, it hasn’t as far as I know, and I can’t find any mention of it on the ABC site. But we will keep watching for it, and buy it on DVD if necessary.