New Book for KidsCan - "My Happy Place" - Prominent NZers donate happy thoughts for charity

THE happy thoughts and memories of more than 50 prominent New Zealanders have been illustrated by children throughout the country and compiled in a book to support the charity KidsCan, with the book to be released early next month.

My Happy Place features contributions from well-known Kiwis such as actor Sam Neill, musician Ladi6 and world champion shearer David Fagan, each illustrated by students at partner schools of the charity KidsCan. This organisation aims to help disadvantaged children reach their full potential in life.

In his Foreword for the book, author Witi Ihimaera praises the insight and generosity of those who donated their thoughts for the book, but also pays tribute to all the young artists involved.
“Out of their artistry have come illustrations that astonish with their imagination and insight.
“(Readers will) be thrilled, enchanted and moved by what the school students see when they look at the world that surrounds us all,” he said.

Former Families Commissioner Jan Pryor has reiterated this sentiment. In her review of My Happy Place, Jan recognised the general appeal of the publication to all family members, particularly because of the young artists’ creativity.

“I recommend (the book) to everyone, but especially perhaps to those who are at all sceptical about the talent and wisdom of our children.
“They are our taonga and this book shows, through their work, just how lucky we are to have them,” she said.
“It is timely to be shown that despite the sad and bad aspects of some children's lives, many are flourishing and showing us just how creative they can be.”
The person behind the concept of My Happy Place, Wellington writer Melissa Mebus, has been working on the publication for close to a year. The idea came to her after hearing KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman interviewed on television.

Melissa’s background in writing, her concern for children living in poverty and her fascination with the way children interpret life through illustration became the catalyst for My Happy Place. This was strengthened by the idea that the entire concept could be used to support KidsCan.

She said while the overarching aim of the book is to fundraise for KidsCan, she was excited about the possibility of bringing enjoyment to everyone involved in the “project”, starting at its creation and ending with its readers.

“It has certainly been the case for me but I believe everyone who has had something to do with My Happy Place has enjoyed themselves.
“When I first contacted people asking them to contribute, the response was overwhelming. Almost everyone jumped at the opportunity to be involved; one person even asked to submit several memories.
“I know from reports coming out of the schools involved that students had a huge amount of pleasure creating their illustrations,” Melissa said.
“Of course the next – and probably biggest – step is letting everyone out there know about the book, so they can share in the enjoyment as well.”

With the main goal of My Happy Place always to support KidsCan, Melissa is encouraging New Zealanders to visit the book’s online shop, to consider purchasing copies, and especially to share information about the book with as many people as possible.

“I hope this can succeed through the power of the people – one person pointing out the book to another, sharing with friends and offering people they love the chance to share in the happiness that is My Happy Place”.

My Happy Place is currently available at bookstores throughout NZ and online . For more information visit: