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New Publisher Brings the Best of Europe Back Home

04/07/2005 Press release: for immediate use

New Publisher Brings the Best of Europe Back Home

Established, award-winning European authors are being translated and published in English, many for the first time, by a new New Zealand-based publisher, Gecko Press.

From her Wellington base, Publisher Julia Marshall is bringing the best of European books to New Zealand children. She chooses books which are exceptional in story, illustration and design which she describes as “curiously good books”.

These books are by authors and illustrators with a strong track record in a number of countries, and which have won international awards.

The first book to be published by Gecko Press is an Austrian book called Donkeys, translated by New Zealand author Catherine Chidgey and edited by Penelope Todd.

“Donkeys is a love story about two donkeys who fall out with each other and try to find someone better, like an ostrich (too clingy) or a hippopotamus (too squishy) – but they can’t find anyone who fits as nicely as the other donkey.”

“I love the way the camels in this book sleep hump to hump like pieces of jig-saw,” says Marshall. “I chose it because of the illustrations, because the story is simple and warm and funny, and because the book is beautifully designed,” says Marshall. “It fills all the criteria of being a curiously good book.”

The Austrian Donkeys, already in its fourth reprint in Austria, won a White Raven award at Bologna International Children’s Book Fair in 2003. This is awarded by the International Youth Library in Munich “to books of international interest which deserve a wider reception on account of their universal theme and/or their exceptional and often innovative artistic and literary style and design.”

Donkeys also won the Most Beautiful Book Award of Austria, 2002, an Honours award in the Austrian Children’s Book Prize, 2003, and won author Adelheid Dahiméne the Austrian promotion prize for children’s and youth literature, 2002.

In the UK, 1 percent of books published come from outside the country. In Europe, the figure is closer to 40 percent.

“The Margaret Mahy’s of Spain and Holland and France and Germany are being translated into lots of languages – but not English,” says Marshall.


Book Prizes and Awards for Donkeys

Winner White Raven award, Bologna 2003

Most Beautiful Book of Austria 2002

Honorary List of the Austrian Children’s Book Prize 2003

Austrian promotion price for child and youth literature 2002 for Adelheid Dahiméne

Donkeys, in its fourth edition in Austria, has been translated into Czech, Danish and French.


Author: Adelheid Dahimène

Illustrator: Heide Stöllinger

Translated by Catherine Chidgey

Edited by Penelope Todd

32pp. 21 x 28.5 cm; Price: paperback $16.95

hardback $29.95

ISBN paperback: 0-9582598-0-1 hardback: 0-9582598-6-0

Distributed by Reeds Publishing (NZ) and available in all good bookshops

Original German version available

Publishing date: mid-June 2005

Author notes: Adelheid Dahimène: born in Austria in 1956. She writes for children and young people, including several picture books with Heide Stöllinger, and for adults.

Illustrator notes: Heide Stöllinger: born in Austria in 1941, studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Nominated for the honours list for the Hans Christian Andersen Prize in 2000.

Translator notes: Catherine Chidgey: lives in Dunedin, lived and studied in Berlin in the 1990s. In a Fishbone Church won Best First Book at Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Asia-Pacific region), and the Betty Trask Prize in the UK. The Donkeys is the first time she has translated a children’s book, working with children’s book editor and author, Penelope Todd.

Publisher notes: Julia Marshall: born in Marton, NZ, 1963. BA PG Dip University of Otago. Worked NZ Geographic, Bridget Williams Books, lived in Sweden for 12 years working with multi-language magazine publishing. Gecko Press is a resident of Creative HQ business incubator in Wellington.

About Gecko Press

Gecko Press specializes in English versions of European books by well-established authors and illustrators which have a strong track record in their own and other countries, and are winners of international awards.

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