Thursday, June 3, 2010

A week of highs and lows for The Wonky Donkey

Sick of hearing about my favourite children's book The Wonky Donkey yet? :P

Bookman Beattie (a most excellent blog btw) is reporting the delightfully silly children's book is about to be certified Platinum with sales in excess of 40,000 in New Zealand alone.

But that's not all.

The recent winner of the much coveted Children's Choice title at the New Zealand Post Book Awards is now New Zealand's bestselling book across all categories, edging out competition of big name international authors like Stieg Larsson, Lee Child and Jodi Piccoult!

But wait, there's more!

It has been the number one New Zealand children's title for eight consecutive months

Craig Smith's book and CD have now been released in the USA, Canada and India, bringing joy to many more children. It's also a nominee in two more awards, the PANZ Book Design Awards and the LIANZA Russell Clark award for illustrations (superby drawn by Kaz Cowley).

But with great success often comes detractors, as the following story from the Otago Daily Times shows.

Intermediate school teacher Margaret Marsick is claiming Smith plagiarised an old joke (what do you call a donkey with three legs? A wonky donkey) to create his much loved and feted book. Ms Marsick says she has found versions of the joke online and the basis for the book should have been referenced in the book.

Smith and Scholastic say the jokes found on the internet were placed there after the song was recorded and sold on CD.

Smith maintains the song stemmed from a short version of the internet jokes and that he did not see the longer version until being told about it years later. "I've never ever made a secret of the fact that the inspiration to the song was from a joke... I have never said this was 100% my idea - never ever."

Asked if those who posted the joke online had plagiarised his song, Smith said: "I don't think so; I think the joke's been around for a long time."

The accusation had put a dampener on his award.

"It is a little bit of a hard thing to have to deal with... I think she's picking on my one maybe because everyone likes it."

Scholastic publishing manager Diana Murray said it was a shame someone was dampening down the book's success. "We haven't seen a success like this for a very long time."

Is it just me or does anyone else sense a little bit of good old fashioned Kiwi Tall Poppy bashing here? It's so disappointing to see Craig Smith and his gorgeous wee song and book being knocked in this manner. I agree with him and his publishers assertions that you can't copyright such an old joke and I applaud Craig for always being so open and honest about his inspiration for the song. To Margaret MarsickI say apologise and retract your unfounded claims and to Craig Smith - don't let one person with an axe to grind take the shine off your awesome success!

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