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Rugby hero and All Black Keven Mealamu has teamed with creative kids from Room 22 at Colwill School in West Auckland, New Zealand, for a new children’s book as part of Barfoot & Thompson’s Magic of Reading program.

Earlier this year, kids from the school came up with a creative concept for a children’s book and entered a contest to have their story work-shopped with children’s writer John Parker and illustrated by Keven Mealamu.

‘Room 22 and Jumbo, the Monster Caterpillar,’ is a colorful 32-page book which sells for just $10, with all proceeds benefiting the Starship Foundation.

Keven Mealamu, who is Barfoot & Thompson’s Magic of Reading Ambassador, admits to being a bit nervous at first.

“I’ve never illustrated a book before and had no idea what story concept the winning class would come up with – I was hoping for something that was easy to draw! The story of Jumbo the caterpillar has been great fun to illustrate.”

Barfoot & Thompson fully funded the publication and is donating copies to the Starship Hospital who provide each child who is admitted with their own book to read and take home with them. B&T Managing Director Peter Thompson says, “We’re thrilled that more than 70 schools from across Auckland and Northland entered our inaugural storybook competition – and we’re so pleased with the result that we’re planning to make it an annual event.”

Several of Mealamu’s original artworks used in the production of the book have been framed and are up for auction on Trade Me along with 20 signed copies of the book- all auction proceeds also go to the Starship Foundation.

More info can be found here.

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