Conservation Minister Chris Carter today joined students at Wellington’s Otari School to officially launch a new storybook for New Zealand children.
‘When the Jones kids came to town: A Weedbusters adventure” has been released by Weedbusters. It is part of efforts to raise awareness of invasive environmental weeds, estimated to cost New Zealand $100 million dollars at year.
“This is the first New Zealand book about weed issues for the five to ten age group,” the Minister said.
“I highly recommend it as a very enjoyable and uniquely New Zealand children’s book. It is also an innovative way to help maintain our world famous pristine natural environment through good weeds education,” Mr Carter said.
The book centers on a fictional family - the Jones kids - who find themselves moved to the city and drawn to a gully over-run by weeds behind their school.
They call on NZ’s Weedbusters mascot, Woody Weed, whanau and friends to help them get rid of the invaders and return the gully to full environmental health.
The new book features exquisite artwork by Ngaruawahia artist Janet Hodgetts, who joined the Minister for the launch.
“Janet has created some wonderful illustrations that must be among the best artwork produced for a NZ children’s storybook,” the Minister said.
The National Coordinator of Weedbusters Carolyn Lewis worked on the storyline with Dr Ian Popay from the Department of Conservation in Hamilton, and Wendy Mead from Environment Waikato.
Ms Lewis said Weedbusters in the Waikato came up with the idea of the storybook to promote the message about clearing environmental weeds, and to explain what New Zealand’s children could do themselves to assist.
“We are already enjoying excellent support for the book’s release from the Department of Conservation, regional and city councils, and Enviroschools. Weedbusters hopes to be able to place the book in every school library throughout New Zealand,” she said.
“Three thousand books have been included in the first run, with more than two thousand of them already pre-sold before publishing.”
Ms Lewis said plans were already underway to produce a second book in the “Weedbuster adventure” series.
Otari School was nominated for the launch by Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Weedbusters Coordinator, Pedro Jensen, because of the interest pupils have shown in busting weeds in their own school environment.
The book is retailing at $10 plus postage - contact Weedbusters on firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
ABOUT THE ARTIST – JANET HODGETTS
JANET HODGETTS is from Ngaruawahia, a small town north of Hamilton.
She has previously completed artwork for the Department of Conservation and her local Regional Council ranging from science illustrations, murals and cartoons to pamphlets, logo designs, and posters.
She also has a Science background with a BSc and MSc in Botany and Environmental Education.
This is her first children’s book.
“I wanted the serious message about weeds to come through in a fun way that kids could relate to. I wanted to illustrate the fact that clearing weeds is a possible and positive thing for kids to be involved in - showing what can be done when we work together,” Janet says of her work in the book.
“I wanted the characters, including the dog, to be fun and likeable.
“I also wanted the book to look distinctly New Zealand, by adding in NZ native species and weeds that are a problem here,” she said.