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Meet filmmaker Barney Kettle, who liked to invent stories but found a real one under his nose.

Meet filmmaker Barney Kettle, who liked to invent stories but found a real one under his nose.

Barney Kettle knew he would be a very famous film director one day, he just didn’t know when that day would arrive. He was already an actual director – he’d made four fifteen-minute films – but so far only his schoolmates and the residents of the High Street had viewed them. Global fame was a little way off. It would come, though. Barney was certain about that ...

So begins the manuscript written from the hospital bed of an unnamed man.

He has written it over many months as he recovers from serious injuries sustained in a city-wide catastrophe.

He has written so he can remember the street where he lived, home to a cavalcade of interesting people, singular shops, and curious stories.

He has written so he can remember the summer before he was injured, the last days of a vanished world.

Above all, he has written so he can remember the inimitable Barney Kettle, filmmaker, part-time dictator, questing brain, theatrical friend; a boy who loved to invent stories but found a real one under his nose; a boy who explored his neighbourhood with camera in hand and stumbled on a mystery that changed everything ...

A beautiful story: big-hearted, richly entertaining, powerful.

2016 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award and winner of the Esther Glen Award at the 2016 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.


Surprising, gripping, heart-breaking and ultimately incredibly moving, this novel stood out right from the start. This book is packed with warmth, wonderful language, rich and witty observations, compelling characters and layers of message and meaning.

Judges of the Esther Glen Award, 2016 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

One thing you can be sure of when you open a Kate De Goldi book is that it’ll be good...Great control of tone; a protagonist who will haunt you for days afterwards; breadth of skill and generosity of spirit. An author who’s a national asset.

David Hill, The Weekend Herald

It’s heart-warming and it’s heartbreaking, it’s original and clever...and it’s one to put on your must-read lists.

Nicky Pellegrino, Herald on Sunday

From the Cutting Room is also a story about the creation of stories - the headlong excitement of the creative process, the euphoric feeling that comes with a great idea...One suspects De Goldi had a similar feeling as she wrote the brave and beautiful end to her High St story.

Catherine Woulfe, NZ Listener

[T]he story will appeal to all ages...[I] just let De Goldi's language carry me forward...inexorably moving towards the devastating February 2011 event. The fallout and aftermath are poignant...Everyone was touched by that disaster, and De Goldi's High St community are no exception, but solutions are found, questions answered, and the ending is molto moving and memorable.

Rachel Gurney, Otago Daily Times

I had to slow myself down while reading this book, to better savour the words inside. Halfway through, I already knew I wanted to re-read it. Kate De Goldi is a spectacular wordsmith. Her main characters, Ren and Barney, are alive on the page, so alive that to read their story is to experience it. ... I feel richer for having read about the people of De Goldi’s High Street, from the bookshop to the Nut Shop, the junk shop the kids’ dad runs, to the Living History Museum – an echo of the website created by ex-High Street inhabitants, High Street Stories. I urge everybody to go and get this book and read it, no matter your age. This ode to the Christchurch of yore is phenomenally good.

Sarah Forster, We Love Books: The Booksellers NZ Blog

Kate De Goldi's writing for children and young adults has been acclaimed for its vibrancy and verisimilitude. De Goldi often takes the reader into psychologically complex territory and, for this reason, her books are sometimes pegged as adult fiction in children's clothing. Certainly, they reward an adult reading; but, at the same time, De Goldi has a sure instinct for how to engage the younger reader. Her writing style is accessible, lucid and unpretentious, yet it is also extraordinarily subtle. Undercurrents swirl beneath the surface, whether the reader is alert to them or not. This is literature that will give children what they want, and also what they may not yet know they need... Children's experience of fiction can be especially raw. Perhaps this is why, in childhood in particular, certain books sear themselves into our memories. They become archetypes according to which we interpret future experiences, even after their details are long forgotten - in the words of Barney Kettle's narrator, they "more or less take up residence inside you". From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle is this kind of book: one that deserves to be read at least once in childhood, and again looking back. Part mystery, part comedy, part social commentary, part requiem for a lost world, it is also one of the cleverest and most structurally inventive books of the past year. A tour de force.

Emma Martin, New Zealand Books

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle has a series of plot twists and turns no one can predict as well as multiple mysteries you are dying to solve. All in all it is an amazing book written in such a way it sinks its claws into you as you delve deeper into the world of Barney and Ren. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone wanting a book to read full of mystery and suspense yet still fun and childish in a way due to the children it is centred around. This is a book I think anyone can pick up and despite a slow start it is well worth a read for just about anyone.

Jessica Skudder, aged 14, Hookedonbooks.org.nz

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    September 23, 2015

    Longacre Child

    336 pages

    RRP $30.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    September 23, 2015

    Random House New Zealand

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ

Awards and Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Winner of the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction
  • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award
    A 2016 Storylines Notable Book
  • White Ravens International Youth Library
    On selection list

Also by Kate De Goldi