Culture vulture

11th November 2005 at 00:00
Wayne Mills is the quizmaster for the 2005 Kids' Lit Quiz

Top children's book Frindle, by Andrew Clements (1996, Simon Schuster), the story of a precocious boy, a brilliant English teacher and a love of words. It exemplifies the power of language. I most admire the work of Philip Pullman (not afraid to tackle big issues), Margaret Mahy (especially her latest, Kaitangata Twitch, published in New Zealand by Allen and Unwin), Michael Morpurgo and Cornelia Funke.

Best recent film

Pride and Prejudice (2005, director Joe Wright). I thought Keira Knightley (pictured) was terrific. Talented cast, and the script remained true to its 19th-century setting. Great on human relationships and emotions. Every parent wants their children to marry well. That hasn't changed in 200 years.

Best on the web reviews picture books, junior fiction, intermediate fiction and teenage fiction. It lists the top 100 New Zealand books and gives advice to authors.

Best event

The Storylines Festival in Auckland each June, the world's largest literary festival for children. More than 20,000 attend on the Sunday. International guests this year will be Anthony Browne and Emily Rodda, as well as NZ favourites such as Lynley Dodd, Margaret Mahy, Tessa Duder, Joy Cowley and Vince Ford.

Looking forward to

This year's Kids' Lit Quiz. Teams of Year 7 and 8 pupils are quizzed about the classics, mythology, comics, folk tales, poetry and contemporary novels. No reading lists are prescribed, but the children have to read widely. It is motivating and rewarding.

Favourite sports team

The All Blacks. I played rugby myself when I was leaner, younger and faster.

Most encouraging fact

There are more public libraries in the United States than there are McDonald's restaurants. This gives me hope.

Wayne Mills, 55, is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Auckland and past president of the New Zealand Children's Literature Foundation. From late November he will be asking the questions in the third annual Kids' Lit Quiz in England, Scotland and Wales. See Daily results at until the December 5 final.Interview by Elaine Williams

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