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June 2021 – Celebrating Laura Shallcrass, Jordan Rondel & Courtney Sina Meredith.

  • by Sally Greer


The temperature may have plummeted, but we’re excited to be celebrating three of our amazing Beatnik authors, who together represent our three main styles of Beautiful Books: beautiful pictures, beautiful food and beautiful literature – 
Laura Shallcrass, Jordan Rondel and Courtney Sina Meredith.

Huge congratulations to writer & illustrator Laura Shallcrass: her debut picture book Hare & Ruru – A Quiet Moment is a finalist in three (yes, three!) of the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults categories:

✶    Picture Book Award
✶    Russell Clark Award for Illustration
✶    Best First Book Award

After weeks of having to keep the news secret, Laura is absolutely thrilled to be sharing her delight. ‘I really love how the book came together but I often suffer from self doubt, so hearing that other people like it too really feeds my soul!’  A labour of love, Hare & Ruru – A Quiet Moment took over four solid years work. Looking back on that intense period, the Queenstown-based artist realises it was time well spent. We’ll keep you posted when winners are announced in August. 

In the meantime Laura is working on another excellent picture book featuring her beloved Hare & Ruru, for Beatnik. It’s due for release later this year, and we’ll give you a sneak preview before it hits the stores.

Congratulations also to our extraordinary cake queen, Jordan Rondel – as The Caker: Wholesome Cakes, Cookies & Desserts had sold out again globally and has just been reprinted for the third time!  Taking on the US market would normally seem an almost impossible feat… but not for this baking goddess. Beatnik proudly published The Caker in 2015 and Jordan hasn’t looked back since, moving operations from her Grey Lynn home kitchen first to her signature Karangahape Rd store in Auckland, and then in late 2019 to Los Angeles, all set to conquer the American market. Little did she know what 2020 would bring – but thanks to her tenacity, ambition and rapid responsiveness, she found success in spite of the Covid19 pandemic, with her luxury cake kits (the flourless dark chocolate gold leaf cake includes an actual leaf of gold.)

 When we checked in with Jordan last week she was slammed, but excited about The Caker’s popularity. In the latest edition, the innovative entrepreneur converts ingredients to imperial measurements for her American fans – she has an insta following of over 50,000 and a plethora of American news show hosts sharing her freshly baked gorgeous, gourmet delicacies. But never fear! The metric measurements are still included for those of us baking on this side of the Pacific and elsewhere.

And a big hurrah! for literary star Courtney Sina Meredith, named as the University of Auckland’s Young Alumna of the Year last month, just a few weeks after launching her latest poetry collection Burst Kisses On The Actual Wind  in late April. Courtney dedicated Burst Kisses to her fiancée, visual artist Janet Lilo, and reviewers are full of praise for the book: “astonishingly good” “remarkable” “her poetry carries mana and strength and beauty”.  We’re proud Courtney has been part of the Beatnik family for over a decade now - Burst Kisses follows her previous two acclaimed and admired books: Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (poems, 2012) and Tail of the Taniwha (stories, 2016) – as well as her wonderful contribution to our Life on Volcanoes essay collection (2019).

Courtney, who is also the Director of Tautai, Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation, told us that she was honoured to be recognised by the Young Alumna award, as both artist and arts leader. ‘I’m fortunate to have such incredible people around me like my Beatnik family, who allow me to lean into my aspirations.’

And on such a positive note, enjoy the start of winter tucked up with a great book and stay well!

Ka kite anō i a koutou,
Sally and the Beatnik team.


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