A Winning Wonky Donkey

One down-to-earth Kiwi songwriter and author is proof the universal language of humour is a very catchy beast.




Queenstown-based writer Craig Smith decided, 16 years ago, to leave his marketing career and follow his musical dreams. Then along came a rather charismatic wonky donkey which set him on the straight path to publishing success.

Last month Craig, author of the best-selling book and song The Wonky Donkey, won the Tui for the 2019 APRA Recorded Music NZ Best Children’s Music Artist, for his second children’s CD, Not Just for Kids 2, including Live at Glastonbury, and tracks such as the Wonky Donkey, The Scariest Thing in the Garden – which is a brussel sprout – and Size Doesn’t Matter.

“The production includes acoustic guitar, harmonics, drums and strings. I want parents to enjoy equally – and get them giggling too!” And speaking of giggling, The Wonky Donkey, and accompanying CD, sold around a million copies worldwide before Scottish granny Janice Clark hijacked the internet with her infectious giggles, while reading the story to her grandson.

Craig says his best-selling book had been entertaining children for nine years selling close to a million copies, before sales then went from a trot to a gallop, from last September, selling a further three million copies. “Until this day I can’t stop laughing every time I hear her, even though I know what’s coming. I realise this happened by complete chance – it was real gift.

The Wonky Donkey became arguably the number one selling book in the world across all genres for two weeks on Amazon global sales. It toppled even Bob Woodward’s book on Donald Trump and Michelle Obama’s autobiography. “Now it’s sold globally – from Portugal to Poland. It really helps that the song is the same as the words in the book – so when English is the second language, you can listen as you read. It’s visual and aural, but also provides a kinaesthetic way for many kids to learn, which is how I learn best.”

Craig has performed at many schools, where kids can’t help but jiggle in their seats to their favourite song. “This is the way stories used to be told before print was invented.” The 47-year-old lives between Queenstown and his creative getaway in Monowai near Te Anau, and has spent nearly a decade touring Australia.

However, it was Christchurch where he first started singing and performing both his adult and kid’s music. He was even a regular busker at the Riccarton Market. He has invested in land and a home in Lyttelton and visited there last month and stopped and had a beer with fellow musician Marlon Williams.

Craig has written nine children’s books so far. On the back of The Wonky Donkey, a book and CD about wonky donkey’s daughter – Dinky Donkey – will be launched worldwide on November 1, and again illustrated by the talented Katz Cowley. Craig gives us a clue: “She’ll be a punky, blinky dinky donkey!”

We have four Wonky Donkey CDs to giveaway. To be in to win, jump on our Facebook post and tell us why you need a Wonky Donkey CD in your life.


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