Janet Martin is a passionate children’s author and publisher of 12 books on native New Zealand birds. Born and raised in Rotorua, she now lives in Titirangi, Auckland with her partner Davyd. Her first book Abigail Fantail was published by Jampot Productions in 2000, and she has since published 11 further titles, including Louie the Tui Learns to Sing (2002), Kiri the Kereru (2007), Emily the Kiwi Plays the Ukulele (2010), Noah the Moa (2012) and Squinty the Seagull (2014). The colourful illustrations have been created in colour pencil by New Zealand illustrators Marigold Janezic and Ivar Treskon, and the books are printed in Auckland. Janet and Davyd perform regularly in schools, and are available through the Writers in Schools programme.
Janet Martin (1954 - ) is a children’s writer, publisher, songwriter and enthusiastic storyteller. Raised in Rotorua and living in Titirangi, Auckland, Janet’s home amidst the Waitakere Ranges offers plenty of inspiration for her children’s series on native New Zealand birds. She lives with partner Davyd, a musician and sound producer, and together they perform musical book readings at pre-schools, schools, libraries and story festivals through their joint venture Jampot Productions. As well as writing stories and composing music, Janet and Davyd enjoy spending time exploring the length of the country in their converted bus whenever they get the opportunity.
Janet wrote and published her first book Abigail Fantail in 2000, the first of what would become a series of rhyming children’s books. For the musically inclined, most of the books also have original sheet music to accompany the text. Abigail Fantail tells the story of a curious fantail who disobeys her mother’s order to stay in the nest, and becomes lost when she wanders into the forest. Readers have to help Abigail find her way back home again.
In 2002, she published her second book Louie the Tui Learns to Sing, about a shy Tui who learns to sing with the help of a friend. Releasing a new book almost every year since, her publications include Molly Morepork and the Lost Campers (2003), Mia the Kea (2004), Janet the Gannet and the Boy Who Dreamed of Flying (2005), Kiri the Kereru (2007), Joe the Kakapo (2009), Emily the Kiwi Plays the Ukulele (2010), Enough Crumbs for Everyone (2011), Pukeko Shoes (2011) and Noah the Moa (2012).
Her latest publication is Squinty the Seagull (2014), which tells the tale of a cheeky one-eyed seagull who decides he wants to be a surfer.
Enjoyed by children and adults across New Zealand, Janet’s books can be found both in local and online bookstores. Marion Hale reviewed Pukeko Shoes in Magpies Magazine as an ‘appealing, rhyming story that is a fantastic read aloud.’ Murray Gray also reviewed Pukeko Shoes as a ‘beautifully illustrated volume in her series Native New Zealand Birds . . . Any [one] who finds [their] children are responsive to one of the series cannot help but to seek more of Janet Martin’s series of excellent readers.’ Popular in conservation organisations, Lindsey Shields from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre notes that the ‘delightful series by Janet Martin presents stories about native birds in rhyming couplets. Readers, or those who have the delight of being read to, are able to savour poetic language while learning about our native birds through engaging stories.’
Janet loves bringing her stories to life through performances at schools and events, because it introduces ‘young children to our unique native birds in a fun, educational way.’ A well-reviewed and ‘very popular’ storyteller in schools, Kate Richards from Woodlands Park School reviewed Janet and Davyd positively, with the ‘mixture of storytelling, songs, music, sound effects and questions and answers [keeping] the children totally captivated. We loved the local feel’ (Woodlands Park School, August 2014).
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Updated June 2017.