By PHILIP CHANDLER
For Queenstown muso Gemma Healy, her first children’s book, Bongo The Stowaway Mouse New Zealand, started as a song about Bongo the mouse.
In the book, Bongo, having stowed on a plane that lands in NZ, undergoes various adventures and befriends Maia, a kiwi, and Molly, a wise old owl — Molly also happens to be the name of Healy’s three-year-old daughter.
Maia and Molly even demonstrate a haka to him, but the latter tells Bongo mice don’t fit in with NZ’s ecosystem, so he’ll have to go.
Healy says she started the book about five years ago but completed it during lockdown last year.
‘‘I’ve put my heart and soul into it, it’s just grown and grown.’’
She’s put the story — aimed at two- to five-year-olds — into rhyme ‘‘because I feel that engages kids a bit more’’.
The book’s also been beautifully illustrated by former Queenstowner Amanda Hughes.
Healy says she found it hard to find a publisher — ‘‘a lot of places aren’t looking at unsolicited manuscripts‘‘ — so she’s self-published it and is lining up pre-sales before getting copies printed.
She’s taking orders via the book’s website, www.bongoadventures.com, which also has the theme song on it.
When she read it to her daughter, Healy says she didn’t disclose she’d written it ‘‘because I really wanted honest feedback — she loves it’’.
The book will probably be launched in May at Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park, whose staff
helped with fact-checking.
Healy thinks there’s a good chance of a sequel — ‘‘hopefully Bongo meets some more indigenous animals in all different countries over the world’’.
Hailing from Wales and having got NZ citizenship last year, she admits Bongo’s ‘‘a little bit
‘‘We’ve both travelled and ended up here and love it, but I can stay because I’m not a mouse.’’