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Young Readers Programme ends on high note

While the three-day Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival is now well underway, having begun its programme of 39 sessions yesterday, the related Young Readers Programme came to an end yesterday.

The programme, which put 22 writers, poets, and presenters in front of over 1000 students across Wairarapa over three days, was “just amazing”, said coordinator Melissa Stockley.

“All of the teachers have made so much effort to make time for us and especially all of the authors who have come.

“Some events had more students turn up than previous years, which was cool to see.

“I spoke to one young student who said it was life-changing.”

Another part of the programme was an offering of a free $20 dollar book voucher to 1500 students, which Stockley said was possible due to the generosity of the Friends of Booktown scheme, under which many individuals and businesses – all of whom are mentioned on signs and placards at various locations around Featherston – provide donations for the vouchers.

“I was talking to some teachers who teach students in alternative education at Kuranui College, and they told me the kids were so amazed to get their book vouchers,” she said.

At the different events over the past three days, the students were treated to a suite of presenters poets and writers.

Two that stood out for Stockley were 12-year-old book reviewer and YouTuber Oscar Sweetman and 15-year-old self-published author Arlo Kelly.

“Arlo has published a book, Echo, and was presenting along with Oscar at St Theresa school, Featherston School, and South Featherston School.

“Arlo brought a collection of all of the books he’s written – from homemade picture books when he was little through to his most recently published novel.”

Meanwhile, the Featherston Booktown Karukatea festival kicked-off yesterday with a sold-out a fish and chip supper that was accompanied by a kapa haka concert by Featherston’s Tamariki and Dame Susan Devoy regaling ticketholders with stories of her life as Race Relations Commissioner, a TV and squash star, and mother of four boys.

Today and tomorrow, there are a plethora of events on offer, with presenters and interviewers, guests and panellists from all manner of professions, including writers, journalists, politicians, historians, activists, and local figures.

For more information, see the Booktown website: booktown.org.nz

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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