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Big smiles for farm tales . . . Tales from the Farm book series author Jennifer Somervell was helped by Balfour School pupils who acted out scenes from her book A Very Greedy TalePHOTO: ASHLEIGH MARTIN

Escaping pigs were just one of the events Tales from the Farm book series author Jennifer Somervell shared with Balfour School pupils during her visit last week.

Tales from The Farm books are based on true stories from Ms Somervell’s childhood growing up on a small family dairy farm in the 1970s.

She visited Balfour and several other schools during her tour of Southland.

Ms Somervell said it was the first time she had been this far south.

Her husband, Ken Fletcher, who is the researcher and editor for the books, accompanied her on the trip.

With the year three and four pupils, Ms Somervell dramatised a pig escape and with the year five to six pupils she talked to them about narrative writing and how the books were produced.

The visit fitted well with the school inquiry topic for the term, which was drama.

“They were the best. Rural children understand the stories and a lot of them have similar experiences,” Ms Somervell said.

“They also did very well in the acting – one of the best I’ve seen.”

Ms Somervell said it was important for rural children to read books about rural events, as they were about their identity and culture and it also encouraged them to write their own stories.

“I think that’s great for kids. If they can recognise what’s happened to them it’s valuable.”

At the back of each book there was also an education section which covered the real-life aspects of the stories, such as how electric fences worked and the New Zealand inventors who pioneered them.

“It’s just a bit of extra information for children and teachers so they can extend the learning.”

“It also gives parents and grandparents the chance to talk about their childhoods.”

The visit was sponsored by the New Zealand Book Council, with the support of Creative New Zealand.