Wonky Donkey man plays sell-out gig to tiny fans

The Wonky Donkey creator Craig Smith entertained children at Rumpus Room in New Plymouth on Friday.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

The Wonky Donkey creator Craig Smith entertained children at Rumpus Room in New Plymouth on Friday.

Marking the end of the school holidays, more than 200 youngsters and their parents went honky-tonky for a Wonky Donkey.

On Friday, musician, entertainer and children's book author Craig Smith performed a number of his hits to a sell-out crowd at New Plymouth's Rumpus Room.

One youngster said she was "so excited" to sing along to the popular song she had been crooning for years.

Eli Bedford and Mum Rachel Bedford meet with children's author Craig Smith.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Eli Bedford and Mum Rachel Bedford meet with children's author Craig Smith.

"I've got the donkey book at my house and I've had it for a very long time," said six-year-old Alice Maycock.

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The donkey dude

Smith is best known for his picture book The Wonky Donkey, the popular story about a three-legged donkey.

Ava Ackerman, 3, was excited to have her book personally signed by Craig Smith.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Ava Ackerman, 3, was excited to have her book personally signed by Craig Smith.

The tongue twisting tale was turned into a song which picked up APRA children's song of the year in 2008 and has garnered more than three million hits on YouTube, while the book has sold more than 700,000 copies.

The Queenstown man is currently touring his latest book, The Scariest Thing in the Garden, and has stopped off in Taranaki to play a number of school shows next week.

Event organiser Anand Rose, a friend of Smith's, said he had set up the children's gig under pressure from his two little girls.

Event organise Anand Rose, holding daughter Aoife 4 months, with (from left) Ever Heggie, 6, Ciara Bint, 10, Elsie Rose, ...
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Event organise Anand Rose, holding daughter Aoife 4 months, with (from left) Ever Heggie, 6, Ciara Bint, 10, Elsie Rose, 4, and Kathryn Herrett, 3.

"Craig is a musician in his own right," Rose said.

"I first met him when I put together a benefit concert at the Bowl after the Christchurch earthquake."

Smith had since played Singer Songwriters New Plymouth where Rose introduced him to his now partner. The couple have recently had a baby girl.

Craig Smith met many tiny fans including is Alice Maycock, 6, and brother Lucas Maycock, 4.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Craig Smith met many tiny fans including is Alice Maycock, 6, and brother Lucas Maycock, 4.

"He's got a strong connection to Taranaki."

Following the show, Smith spent time with his tiny fans signing tee-shirts and books, and taking photos.

He said he was "hugely surprised" by the lingering popularity of the The Wonky Donkey book.

The Wonky Donkey creator Craig Smith entertained children at Rumpus Room in New Plymouth. Children and parents lined up ...
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

The Wonky Donkey creator Craig Smith entertained children at Rumpus Room in New Plymouth. Children and parents lined up to get signed copies of his books.

"It surprised everyone when it first got popular," he said.

"Now we've just launched it in Asia and because they are learning English, with the CD componentry they can listen to the book without the teacher being there."

He believed its success was due to it tapping in to the three different learning styles.

"With the music it's oral, it's kinesthetic with the moving and it's visual with the reading and the pictures.

"Kids learn in those main three ways and the book crosses all of those bases."

 - Stuff

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