The Curioseum cover

In 2013, publishing students worked with Adrienne Jansen and Te Papa Press to produce The Curioseum, a collection of stories inspired by a trip to the museum. Te Papa invited some of New Zealand’s best writers to the museum and showed them behind the scenes, and the stories they produced after that visit were published in the book alongside illustrations by Sarah Laing. This video shows some of the writers reading their stories.

Winner of the HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover at the 2015 PANZ Book Design Awards.

One of the students who worked on the book was Barbara Graham, who describes the experience here.



‘The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous was an inspiring and exciting project for three publishing newbies. The Curioseum is an illustrated collection of children’s stories, written by some of New Zealand’s best writers (Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, Bill Manhire, to name a few), and is a first for museum publisher Te Papa Press. In the theme of ‘firsts’, this was the first collaboration between the Whitireia publishing programme and Te Papa Press, and the first children’s book, in fact one of the first books, that we had worked on.

‘We managed the whole production process, though we had the essential support of Odessa Owens and Claire Murdoch at Te Papa Press, editor Adrienne Jansen, and of course the fantastic leader of Whitireia Publishing, Rachel Lawson. It was an amazing learning experience working with twenty-two different authors and wrangling all their creative ideas into one unified publication. Our incredible designer and illustrator, Sarah Laing, made the stories come to life without sacrificing their connection to the book as a whole.

‘Throughout this project we got to learn about Te Papa Press’ publishing process, copy-edit the work of multiple well-known authors and discover their unique styles and work methods, lay out the book and hone our InDesign skills, and design the BLAD using Sarah’s wonderful material. One of the best things about this project was that it allowed us all to gain a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of the publishing process.

‘We were very lucky to be given the opportunity to work on such a fun and original project, which will have such a delightful finished product.’

(Barbara Graham, March 2014)


Curioseum bladcurioseum BLAD 2Barbara talked about producing the BLAD, which is pictured here. BLAD stands for ‘book layout and design’. BLADs are often produced for illustrated books in advance of the book being printed. BLADs are used as a marketing tool, sent to booksellers and others who might buy the book, to give a sense of the format and production values of the book.








Working with an illustrator

Working with illustrator Sarah Laing was a fun part of this project. She produced rough layouts for the book and cover and roughs for every illustration in the book, then fine tuned her illustrations. After publication, Te Papa animated some of her illustrations and you can see the animation on their website. You can also see some of the real objects that Sarah’s illustrations are based on at the Book Council website, where editor Adrienne Jansen talks about putting this book together. (If you want to find out more about Sarah, visit her blog Let Me Be Frank.)

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