Ella Neilson


Storyteller: Waikanae schoolgirl Ella Neilson has published her first book with the help of Waikanae artist Lorna Ward.

This article was originally published on Stuff here

She’s just 13, but Waikanae student Ella Neilson has published her first book.

The Kapiti College student wrote the picture book, Tui, last year after being inspired by the iconic native bird, she said.

“They have a really nice sound and they’re all iridescent and really beautiful.”

The book follows the day of a tui, as it narrowly escapes a cat “creeping slow through the grasses” and “snuggles into her nest, upon her warm and freshly laid eggs”.

Ella has written poems and fantasy stories since she was seven, but this is her first published book.

Waikanae artist Lorna Ward worked with Ella to create the illustrations, using watercolours.

The pair worked together to create the scenes Ella wanted, Ward said.

“She would tell me exactly what was in her head, what she wanted for the pictures so all the designs were hers,” she said.

“I thought it was just incredible that Ella would write such a story at such a young age, and have such good ideas and know where she wanted to go with it.”

A self-taught painter, Ward spent a few weeks creating the images in the evenings as she works in Wellington.

Ella’s family self-published 100 copies of the book, printed through Precise Print in Paraparaumu.

She hopes to write and publish a follow-up book to Tui in time for Christmas this year.

Meanwhile she is working on a fantasy chapter book about a girl’s search for her father, who is lost in a mine.

Tui is available from Paper Plus Coastlands, Artel Gallery on Main Rd Waikanae and Gorgeous Things in Raumati South.

It sells for $14.90.

Below is the write up of what inspired Ella to write Tui and how she came up with the ideas etc.

When I wrote the book Tui, I didn’t have much thought before it. I just sat down and started writing. I was definitely not expecting it to turn into such a big hit. Before I wrote the books, I had always been fascinated by birds. Not just native birds, but pheasants and peacocks especially. I had always loved how beautiful they were. From this I have always loved iridescent birds, so the Tui was soon in my charts of ‘favourite birds’. I had always had this idea of writing a series of books about different animals, instead I chose a bird, I chose to write about Tui. This is where it has all began.  Of course I couldn’t have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for my illustrator and all who have helped me along the way.

Thankyou Nick and Gareth 🙂

Sincerely, Ella