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About the book
  • Published: 5 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869799908
  • Imprint: RHNZ Children’s ebooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

The ACB With Honora Lee

Formats & editions

Moving, charming novel from much-loved, international-award-winning children's author Kate de Goldi, author of the 10pm question. Beautifully packaged and illustrated throughout with drawings by Greg O'Brien.

Moving, charming novel from much-loved, international-award-winning children's author Kate de Goldi, author of the 10pm question. Beautifully packaged and illustrated throughout with drawings by Greg O'Brien.

A Globe 100 Best Book of 2014

Perry’s mother and father are busy people … they’re impatient, they’re tired, they get cross easily. And they think that only children, like Perry, should be kept busy. On Saturday mornings Perry and her father visit her gran, Honora Lee, at the Santa Lucia rest home, but Gran never remembers them. ‘Who is that man?’ Honora Lee asks when Perry’s father leaves the room.

After movement class is abruptly cancelled, Perry is allowed to go to Santa Lucia on Thursday afternoons. She discovers her Gran has an unconventional interest in the alphabet, so Perry decides to make an alphabet book with the help of Honora and the others. Soon everyone is interested in Perry’s book project.

Kate De Goldi’s The ACB with Honora Lee unfolds with characteristic warmth, quirky, surprising humour and a rich cast of ‘residents’. The story is a meditation on kindness and patience and acceptance; that of the very young and the very old. It's a story that will resonate with echoes of recollection for many — from Perry’s endearing perspective on the adult world to the embracing kindness of those who care for the elderly.

A many-layered and playful novel with a crossover audience, it will delight both the young and the not so young.

Shortlisted for the NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2013 and the LIANZA Award 2013.

  • Pub date: 5 October 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869799908
  • Imprint: RHNZ Children’s ebooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

About the Author

Kate De Goldi

Kate De Goldi is one of New Zealand’s most loved authors, whose short fiction, novels and picture books engage children, teenagers and adults alike. The author of the phenomenal The 10 PM Question, which has been published extensively overseas, she is a two-time winner of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award. The 10 PM Question won Book of the Year and Best Young Adult Fiction in the 2009 New Zealand Post Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards, was a runner-up in the 2009 Montana NZ Book Awards, and won the Readers’ Choice Award. It was a finalist in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards for the Esther Glen Award, was shortlisted for the Nielsen BookData NZ Booksellers’ Choice Award, and was selected for the 2009 edition of the prestigious international catalogue The White Ravens. She has a regular spot reviewing children’s books on Saturday Mornings with Kim Hill on National Radio.

De Goldi has won numerous other awards, including the Katherine Mansfield and American Express awards for short stories. She has held several major fellowships, including the 2010 Michael King Fellowship, and in 2001 was made an Arts Foundation Laureate. In 2011 she was winner of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award, which is awarded for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. That same year she won the 2011 Corine International Book Prize Young Readers Award, which is awarded to German and international authors 'for excellent literary achievements and their recognition by the public'. A respected broadcaster, book festival chair and public speaker, she is also dedicated and committed to working with schoolchildren. Her first book, a series of interlinked short stories for adults, Like You, Really, was published under the name of Kate Flannery. This was followed by the cross-over YA novel Sanctuary, which won the 1997 Best Senior Fiction Award, and the YA novels Love, Charlie Mike and Closed, Stranger (YA Honour Book at the 2000 New Zealand Post Book Awards). Jacqui Colley has illustrated three of De Goldi's books — Clubs, a Lolly Leopold story; Uncle Jack; and Billy, a Lolly Leopold story — and De Goldi's junior novel The ACB with Honora Lee featured drawings by Gregory O’Brien. Her novel From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the 2016 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

The entry for De Goldi in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, writing of the debut short-story collection Like You, Really, identifies what were to become vintage De Goldi preoccupations and stylistic approaches: ‘The sense of identity through kinship implied in the title is the unifying concern.’ Stories ‘fluctuate in time’ with people ‘retold and revisited’, in this way compiling the family’s history. Indeed, the judges of the 2009 New Zealand Post Book of the Year wrote of The 10 PM Question: ‘De Goldi’s winning book invites you to become part of another family, to spend some quality time with its members, become engrossed in the family dynamics to the point that ... this family has now become our family, too ... The judges predict, with reasonable confidence, that The 10 PM Question will become an enduring classic.’

The ACB with Honora Lee explores the relationship between a young girl, Perry, and her cranky grandmother, who has dementia and lives in a rest home. As Honora loses words, Perry is furiously gathering them up, and ‘it’s the intersection between the two which De Goldi plays with throughout’ (Waikato Times). A bond forms between Perry, her grandmother and the staff and residents of the home as Perry constructs an alternative alphabet book with her grandmother. The result, Victoria Spence declared in Metro magazine, is ‘sheer joy’: ‘De Goldi’s love of language shines brightly, word play shapes many conversations.’ North & South concluded that in this ‘delicate honeycomb of a book’, ‘there is not a wasted or insignificant word ... The prose is like music, with rhythms carefully crafted.’ The scenario is typical of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’, but as De Goldi told The Weekend Herald the Christchurch earthquakes coincided with putting her mother into care, which started her thinking about ‘cracks in the community and fractures in my mother’s head’, but also about bonding and ‘constructing meaning’ from the ruins.

Also by Kate De Goldi

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Praise for The ACB With Honora Lee

“Wholly unique in voice, and warmly hilarious, this story of a granddaughter making a book with her grandmother and her co-habitants in their long-term care home is a diamond.”

Lauren Bride, Globe and Mail, Canada

“A must-read. This book is about Perry and her visits to her grandmother who has lost her memory but has a very strong personality. It is like this: 1. Her grandmother goes very fast and bumps into everything, even people. 2. She has lost her memory and lives in a place that looks after old and memory-lost people like her. 3. She loves her alphabet very much, so her 9-year-old grand-daughter Perry makes her a mixed-up illustrated alphabet about the place where she lives. 4. Because she has lost her memory Perry’s grandmother goes into other people’s rooms, sleeps in other people’s beds and takes other people’s things. Nobody minds except Melvyn Broome. One day Perry’s grandmother steals peppermints from his room so he attacks her with his walking stick and they have to be separated by a nurse. 5. Of course the other annoying thing is that because she has lost the remembering part of her mind she can’t remember where she is or who people are. Sometimes she mistakes people for other people from long ago. Also she can’t remember incidents like the one with Melvyn Broome. Perry’s grandmother and other people who have very bad memory loss have to have people to look after them all the time. Altogether I would say this book is about good things, even though it is also about memory loss and mortality. A book like no other, perhaps.”

Cosmo, aged 10, Page & Blackmore

“I read this novel in one sitting. I think you have to in order to hold in your head what it is all about. Perry is an imaginative 9 year old girl who needs constant stimulation. She has thick lensed glasses, an inquisitive and sharp mind and a caring nature. You can say aah here. Her mother and father fill her life up with after school activities like music and art work but she needs more. Then she finds out about her grandmother, Honora Lee. Honora is in a rest home, has dementia and a head full of memories that burst out at any time. Perry adores visiting her and decides to do an ABC book about life in the rest home. I had a mother with dementia and this brought it all home to me. You will laugh and cry at the same time. As the ACB book evolves Gregory O’Brien illustrates with perceptive drawings that reflect Perry’s understanding with Honora’s dementia. Absolutely superb. I loved the way Kate showed the family connections through the dialogue, I hope the children don’t miss this. As I read I reached the conclusion that it was a children’s book for adults as well as an adult’s book for children.The link between the old and the young is wonderfully portrayed with the usual eccentricity that characterise Kate De Goldi’s books.”

Bob Doherty, Bob's Book Blog

Awards & Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

    Awarded • 2013 • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction

  • NZ Post Children's Book Awards

    Finalist • 2013 • Junior Fiction category

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