Monday, 12 October 2015

Curious duo's Kenyan adventure

Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya

A photograph of author Longy Han
Longy Han wrote Gusto & Gecko
Travel to Kenya to introduce children
to different cultures.
Writer: Longy Han
Illustrator: Elinor Hägg

Home for author Longy Han is the smell of fresh linen, the sound of Chinese news on TV, the touch of postcards on the walls, the sight of parents making fresh dumpling and the taste of happiness. She also has a passion for travel, and the drive to introduce children to different cultures inspired Longy to turn to crowdfunding to produce the first in what she hopes will be a series of picture books featuring two cheeky dinosaurs. A crowdfunding campaign for the second book is running until 10 November, and for every book purchase made during the campaign, Longy will donate another to local libraries and children’s hospitals around Australia.

Describe your book: Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya is a rather absurd but fun-filled, colourful picture book about two little dinosaurs that go to Africa in their travel machine, the Rombom. It’s ideally for kids five-plus but I have had parents come up and tell me they have also learnt interesting things from the book.

Describe the main characters: Gusto is kind, a bit reckless, full of energy and very loyal to its travel companion Gecko. Gusto loves all food, especially pastries; and Gecko – who is not a gecko, just a dinosaur called Gecko – needs to keep a close watch on Gusto so it doesn’t get into mischief. Gecko is intelligent, a bit shy, always there to lend a helping hand and it admires Gusto. Gecko loves fruits, especially berries and when no-one is watching, Gecko likes jumping in puddles

An image of the book cover with the following text: Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya, written by Longy Han, illustrated by Elinor Hagg.
A crowdfunding campaign is underway
for the second title, set in New Orleans.
What was your favourite book as a child and why? The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton because the characters in the book were magical. I wished day in and day out that I could also climb that magic Faraway Tree to meet Moonface! I adored the book so much that I scribbled all over it with coloured crayons – twice. Poor book.

What is your favourite book for children now, and why? “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”:  Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss. It’s such a simple yet complex, inspirational yet honest book. I gave my copy of the book away last year at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’s Great Book Swap. Now I really miss it.

Where do you write? In my living room, on the floor, by the window.

If I wasn’t a writer I’d be... an intellectual property lawyer – which is actually my day job!

Other than writing I’m passionate about... early childhood education, emergent technologies and eradicating illiteracy. On a less serious note, I also love the water, big dogs and pastries.
A photograph of Longy Ham kissing a giraffe.
Longy drew on her personal
experience in Kenya for the book.

What are you working on now? The second book in the Gusto & Gecko series, which will be set in the amazing city of New Orleans. It is the birthplace of jazz, home to authentic Cajun and Creole cooking and breeding ground for dangerous alligators.

Read a review of Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya here.

Gusto & Gecko Travel to Kenya was launched in October 2015. Visit for more information about the book, series and crowdfunding campaign. The book can be purchased through or

Follow Gusto and Gecko’s adventures on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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