The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous edited by Adrienne Jansen, ill. Sarah Laing, Te Papa Press
This is an appealing little book. The blurb on the back cover says: Extraordinary writers, weird and wonderful museum objects, and fantastic tales for kids... Apparently the writers were invited into the Te Papa Museum to look around and be inspired by the wonderful things they saw in drawers and boxes and displays. The resulting book contains 22 short stories and poems. The selection of writers is interesting - it spans scriptwriters, film-makers, actors, graphic novelists, poets, journalists - and authors (including such luminaries as Joy Cowley, Mandy Hager, Elizabeth Knox, Kyle Mewburn, and Barbara Else).
The stories are stunning in their originality and variety. There’s one written from the point of view of a rat on board the waka that first sailed to New Zealand. Another is about a boy who turns into a beetle. Another describes Grandpa’s memories of Gallipoli (including the rifle with a mirror). Some are funny (the children in the samurai armour) and some are sad (the Jewish family fleeing their home). All are intensely readable. Sarah Laing’s fine-lined pen and ink drawings add a humorous tone to the book, and definitely make it more approachable.
I can see this anthology being useful to primary teachers for reading aloud and inspiring discussions in the classroom. It deserves to be in every library.
See links about the book, authors, and where to buy it.
ISBN 978 1 877385 92 6 $29.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman