Menu Close

An Unexpected Hero for NZ ReadAloud in 2017 and 2019.

An Unexpected Hero was chosen twice for NZ ReadAloud, in 2017 and again in 2019. This national programme involves close to a hundred schools sharing their reading of the book and connecting online with the authors. This ‘connected literacy’ initiative began in 2015. The focus is on New Zealand authors writing stories in New Zealand settings and the goal is ‘One Book to Connect Kiwi Kids across Aotearoa.’ Children from participating schools throughout New Zealand read An Unexpected Hero together and publish on-line comments and their work as they follow Matt’s adventures, and finally discover the identity of the ‘Unexpected Hero’.

The students’ emails, Tweets, letters and questions kept me busy and I got to see their work as they explored the text online with classes in other schools.

Programme initiator Kerri Thompson from Tamatea Intermediate in Napier also relishes the contributions shared by both teachers and students.

An Unexpected Hero Tee shirt Competition.

A feather is difficult to draw, but there were many great entries for the 2017 NZReadAloud competition for a tee shirt design featuring the white feather of peace. I enjoyed seeing them all, particularly all the entries from Waitoki School – so hard for a teacher to select only two designs from such talent, ranging from a phoenix to doves, peace rainbows and more. The entries from WJJ Middle School in Connecticut USA travelled a long way and were most welcome too. Then I had to choose the final winners.

Alyssa Martinovich’s beautiful and well-thought-out design (below left) gained second place. Alyssa is at Pukekohe Intermediate.

I chose the design by Rushil Patel ( (below right) as the clear winner. It would take many words to fully describe its symbolism … but briefly, two clasped hands with different coloured skins together hold up the white feather of peace. Decorated with symbols and flags from many nations, the two “arms” together embrace the globe. The word Peace on the tee shirt sleeves supports the design. Then to my surprise, I realised that Rushil is in the same classroom as Alyssa at Pukekohe Intermediate.