Popular Kiwi novelist Emily Perkins had her hands full when she took on the reins of The Good Word Jnr, a downsized spin-off from her usual TV gig, presenting TVNZ 7’s long-running book show The Good Word.Her hands were full in only a good way as she adjusted to leading a review panel of book-mad 12 and 13-year-olds and having a 14-year-old reporter loose in the field.
The Good Word Jnr will run for four weeks through NZ Book Month in March, putting books into kid and family-friendly territory. The ‘junior’ version of The Good Word falls into the shape of the grown-up version of the show. Perkins opens the show, with the regular panel of Sophie Parke, Murdoch Keene and Connie Gregory, well-read kids from Ponsonby Intermediate.
Each week they review a lesser-known Kiwi kids classic – like Elsie Locke’s venerable, The Runaway Settlers, and Maurice Gee’s The Halfmen of O – and then there’s a teen-friendly guest talking with Perkins about a favourite book. The guests include Midnight Youth singer Jeremy Redmore, and TVNZ U presenter and comedian Rose Matafeo.
Out in the field, on assignment to look into the potentially boring world of New Zealand books is 14-year-old Frank Talbot, who casts a suspicious eye on the idea that libraries might be fun and history anything else but a big scary book.
Photo: Emily Perkins and The Good Word Jnr team.