When Jack visits his grandparents, they tell him stories - each outdoing the other with a tale taller and wilder than the last.
Jack Lasenby, one of New Zealand's best-known writers for
young people, was born in Waharoa in 1931. The same year there was
the Great Depression and the Napier Earthquake, so it was called
the Year of Disappointments. In the 1950s Jack was a deer culler
and possum trapper in the Ureweras. He became a teacher, edited
that cultural treasure the School Journal, and lectured in English
at the remarkable Wellington Teachers' College, where he began his
first novel. He's published many award-winning books such as
Because We Were the Travellers and the Seddon Street Gang
trilogy (Dead Man's Head, The Waterfall, and The
Battle of Pook Island). In 2014, Jack was given the Prime
Minister's Award for Literary Achievement, recognising his
"outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature". He writes in
a flat high above the tumultuous city of Wellington, enjoying its
great winds and stormy skies, and ranting to the people far below,
who take no notice and can't hear him anyway.
Bob Kerr first illustrated one of Jack's books years ago. His daughter Kathleen was so excited she demanded that they go and meet the famous author. They travelled for days by steam train and Model T Ford, and finally found Jack fishing from the front window of his house beside Porirua Harbour. "Would you like a cup of tea and a slice of sponge cake?" asked Jack. "Yes, yes, yes!" said Kathleen, jumping up and down on Jack's sofa. When Bob realised that authors could afford sponge cake he started writing his own books. These include Mechanical Harry, which won the Children's Choice Award at the 1997 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and After The War, which won the PANZ Book Design Award for Best Use of Illustration in 2001. He recently wrote and illustrated Changing Times- The Story of a New Zealand Town and its Newspaper, which was named a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book.