Nim's Island

A site for readers of the book Nim's Island, by Wendy Orr

Monday, July 30, 2007


Yes, it's true I'm going to be a Nim's Island extra (along with my husband Tom, and Kerry Millard, the book's illustrator) but I'm afraid I have no idea how you get to be one if you didn't happen to write the book the film was based on!

I was going to say say the 'usual channels' but to be honest I have no idea what those are.

So... sorry to everyone who thought I might be able to help,but I'm afraid I honestly can't.


Friday, July 27, 2007

How Nim was Born

I'm often asked how I came up with the idea for Nim's Island.

There are really two parts to her creation. I started playing with the idea of a girl writing to an author after I received two letters one week from girls who wanted me to write a book about them. I had to tell them that I simply can't work like that – the ideas for a book have to spring from my own imagination, but that they should think about writing their own stories. However, the letters started me on a writer's favourite game: what if. So... what if an arrogant author brushed off a little girl whose life was in fact much more interesting than anything the author could invent?

I played with this idea for quite a while, several months or a year, and it became clear to me that the reason the girl's life was so interesting was that she lived on an island.

It still took ages to come to life, until on about the tenth draft, I suddenly remembered and really relived a story I wrote when I was 8 – about a little girl who ran away from her orphanage to live alone on Spring Island.

That story was inspired by my fascination with two tiny islands we used to pass on the ferry going to visit my grandparents on Vancouver Island. I absolutely longed to live on one of them! But maybe because I knew it wasn't going to happen, or maybe because I've always been a story teller, the girl I saw living there wasn't me, in my family; she was an extraordinarily brave, capable and inventive girl. And, probably because I had just read and loved Anne of Green Gables, it was obvious to me that she was an orphan.

And so, finally, when I put myself back into the story I'd written when I was 8, Nim came to life and appeared on the page pretty much as you see her now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nim's My Space page

Gave me quite a funny feeling to get an email from Nim this morning! However I think she may have had a little help putting her My Space page together. Check it out!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nim's overseas

I guess this is a side benefit of the film... but I'm really thrilled that Nim's Island will be coming out in Japan, France and with Puffin in the UK. I don't know dates, but I'm guessing they'll all be as soon as possible. The Japanese company and Flammarion in France both also published Ark in the Park, years ago, so it's nice for Nim to join them.

And Puffin will be publishing Nim at Sea as well as Nim's Island. I have such great memories of Puffin books from my childhood - something very nice about having books with them now!


Friday, July 20, 2007

First Aussie Children's Book as a Hollywood feature?

A while ago I asked if anyone knew if Nim's Island was the first Australian children's book to become a Hollywood feature film. Thanks very much to all the people who emailed me with their thoughts.

The concensus seems to be that there have been many wonderful Australian children's books which have become Australian feature films, and Libby Hathorn's Thunderwith was adapted by Hallmark as a telemovie 'The Echo of Thunder.

Some people believe Mary Poppins should could be counted as an Australian book, and if so it's obviously the first to go to Hollywood.

My problem with that is that if Mary Poppins is an Australian book, then by the same criteria, Nim isn't. PL Travers was born in Australia but spent her adult, writing life in the UK, and that's where all her work, including Mary Poppins, was published. I was born in Canada, but although I have published a few books directly in Canada, have spent my adult and writing life in Australia, and Nim was first published here. So, though I'm a Canadian-Australian writer, I consider Nim to be an Australian book rather than Canadian.

Professor Belle Alderman has allowed me to add her thoughts on the question here:

I checked Marcie Muir's first bibliography of Australian children's
books published in 1970, then her updated edition, published in
1992. Interestingly, in the early edition, she included Pamela
Travers and explained in her introduction, that she included as
Australian, those books written by Australians regardless of
subject matter, and books relating to Australia regardless of the
nationality of the writer or place of publication. She listed all
Travers' work in the 1970 edition. Then in 1992, Marcie Muir had this to
say about Travers:

'Though Pamela Travers was born & brought up in Australia she has
spent most of her life in Europe & all Mary Poppins books are in
every way English. The production of the Walt Disney film in 1964
based on these stories resulted in many translations & different
versions of the books but they are not part of Australian
children's literature.'

Anyway, you can see even the experts (Marcie Muir) change their
minds. I think you can safely lay claim to your book being the
first Australian children's book to be made into a Hollywood feature film, if you discount


Monday, July 09, 2007

Nim at Sea Launch

What can I say? This was a fun and eventful evening, but not quite what we'd planned. Paula Mazur was going to launch it and we were both quite excited about that. The Nim journey has been long, eventful and often emotional, and I dedicated the book to Paula because it was the journey that brought the characters to life for me all over again, so that I had to find out what happened next. When I realised that she would be in Australia when the book was released, we both thought this seemed a wonderful opportunity to not only launch the book but celebrate the journey so far.It was especially wonderful as we would have not only her family out from LA, but my daughter home from Vancouver, as well all my husband's Queensland relatives. (My son was home in Melbourne, but at least he'll get other chances to meet everyone.)

However journeys, and 'at sea' turned out to be even more relevant than we'd planned. I turned up at Riverbend Books shortly after 5:00 pm, as I was being interviewed before the 6:30 launch. My phone rang immediately; Paula, with Mark and Jen, had been out in a boat scouting locations and was now stuck on a sandbar. They'd called a rescue boat and should still make it fine, just a bit muddier than planned. Another phoned call: a while later... no sign of a rescue boat, but surely they'd get there, just a bit late. Next phone call a bit more despairing, but wait! A boat was approaching, with Rescue on it - all would be well.

Half an hour later came the next phone call: the rescue boat had also run aground, and the two boats were now pontooned together, waiting for another rescue boat. They finally got off about 8 pm.

Meanwhile, Murray Pope, a producer of Animalia, and long time friend of Paula's and supporter of Nim's, was coming to the launch as a guest - so he gallantly stepped in and launched it for Paula. Then, about halfway through my (slightly changed) speech, Paula's family came jogging up the ramp to Riverbend's deck; I introduced them, and her daughter took the mike and told the story of Paula finding the book in the library four years ago.

"You choreographed this, didn't you?" someone in the audience said - and really, if I had, the only thing that would have made it perfect would have been for Paula, Mark and Jen to have all turned up as I finished the reading. Well, we'll just have to have another celebration sometime.