2018 Children’s book awards finalists will transport, inform & delight young kiwi readers

6 Jun 2018

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A bumper crop of excellent books for young New Zealand readers have today been announced as the 33 finalists in the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

From sharks and dawn raids to earthquakes, kidnap plots, Jean Batten and the familiar chaos that is kids at breakfast time, their range is diverse. But they all share the magical ability to transport, inform and delight, says convenor of judges, Jeannie Skinner.  “These books, fiction and non-fiction, help us try on different lives, see the world through another’s eyes, and be inspired by stories of our past, present, and possible futures.”

There were 152 entries submitted for the 2018 awards, and finalist titles will compete in seven categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustration, te reo Māori and Best First Book. The winners of those categories will all compete to be named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year.

The judges say the real strength of the shortlist is the range of vividly drawn and memorable characters who encounter challenges, both physical and mental. They were also delighted by the richly authentic voices, which reflect the unique New Zealand landscape, vernacular and humour, with convincingly drawn family and peer dynamics.  Powerful settings of imagined futures, whether dystopian, inter-planetary or steampunk, add variety and wild imagination to the vibrant mix.

All experts in the field of children’s literature, the judges also sought the opinion of those who matter most: the children themselves. They worked with panels of young people to gauge how they reacted to and interacted with the titles.

Children are also involved in the awards through the HELL Reading Challenge. Now in its fifth year, this partnership has been hugely successful in getting kids reading and enjoying the pleasure of stories – with the added bonus of free pizza rewards. Since the 2018 programme began in early March, more than 200,000 pizza reading wheels have been ordered by over 730 schools and libraries around the country.

An exciting new sponsor further strengthens the Awards this year.  The Wright Family Foundation, a charitable trust, which already supports the Kids’ Lit Quiz and the New Zealand Spelling Bee, is funding two categories – the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award and the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction.

The formidable task of narrowing the field to a list of finalists was met by this year’s experienced judging panel: Jeannie Skinner (convenor) a facilitator at the National Library of New Zealand; Crissi Blair, a long-time promoter and champion of children’s books; Maureen Crisp, writer and blogger; Darryn Joseph, an academic and author; and Bridget Schaumann, a school librarian.

They were joined by a panel appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau to judge the te reo Māori entries, which was led by Moana Munro (convenor), kaitiakipukapuka Māori for the Hastings District Libraries, Anahera Morehu, library manager for the Faculty of Arts, Māori and Pasifika Team of Te Tumu Herenga at the University of Auckland, and Jacqueline Joyce Snee, senior librarian Māori Research at Auckland Central Library.

School children will have a chance to meet the 2018 finalist authors and illustrators at four large-scale regional events in the week leading up to the awards ceremony. The first is in Hamilton (Wednesday 1 August in association with Waikato University, Hamilton Library and Hamilton Book Month); then Dunedin (Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August in association with Dunedin Public Libraries and UBS Otago); Christchurch (Monday 6 August in association with WORD Christchurch); and finally in Wellington (Wednesday 8 August in association with Te Papa and Wellington City Library).

The winners of the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced at a ceremony in the atmospheric Te Marae at Te Papa in Wellington on the evening of Wednesday 8 August.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, the Wright Family Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, Copyright Licensing NZ, LIANZA, Wellington City Council, Nielsen Book and Te Papa. The Awards are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

The finalists for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

Picture Book Award

  • Granny McFlitter the Champion Knitter, Heather Haylock, illustrated by Lael Chisholm (Penguin Random House)
  • I am Jellyfish, Ruth Paul (Penguin Random House)
  • That's Not the Monster We Ordered, Richard Fairgray & Terry Jones (Penguin Random House)
  • The Gift Horse, Sophie Siers, illustrated by Katharine White (Millwood Press)
  • The Longest Breakfast, Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (Gecko Press)

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

  • How Not to Stop a Kidnap Plot, Suzanne Main (Scholastic NZ)
  • How to Bee, Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)
  • Lyla: Through My Eyes - Natural Disaster Zones, Fleur Beale, edited by Lyn White  (Allen & Unwin)
  • My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (Scholastic NZ)
  • The Thunderbolt Pony, Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins Publishers)

Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction

  • Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong, Erin Donohue (Escalator Press)
  • Catch Me When You Fall, Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House)
  • In the Dark Spaces, Cally Black (Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • Sticking with Pigs, Mary-anne Scott (OneTree House)
  • The Traitor and the Thief, Gareth Ward (Walker Books Australia)

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

  • Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House)
  • Explore! Aotearoa, Bronwen Wall, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Kennett Brothers)
  • New Zealand's Great White Sharks, Alison Balance (Potton & Burton)
  • Sky High: Jean Batten's Incredible Flying Adventures, David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris (Penguin Random House)
  • The New Zealand Wars, Philippa Werry (New Holland)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration

  • Abel Tasman: Mapping the Southern Lands, illustrated by Marco Ivančić, written by Maria Gill (Scholastic NZ)
  • Bobby, the Littlest War Hero, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Glyn Harper (Penguin Random House)
  • Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts, written and illustrated by Craig Phillips (Allen & Unwin)
  • I am Jellyfish, written and illustrated by Ruth Paul (Penguin Random House)
  • Sky High: Jean Batten's Incredible Flying Adventures, illustrated by Phoebe Morris, written by David Hill (Penguin Random House)

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

  • Hineahuone, Xoë Hall, translated by Sian Montgomery-Neutze (TeacherTalk)
  • Te Tamaiti me te Aihe, Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Little Island Press Ltd)
  • Tu Meke Tūī! Malcolm Clarke, illustrated by Hayley King (AKA Flox), translated by Evelyn Tobin (Mary Egan Publishing)

Best First Book Award

  • Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong, Erin Donohue (Escalator Press)
  • Into the White, Joanna Grochowicz (Allen & Unwin)
  • My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (Scholastic NZ)
  • Pieces of You, Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House)
  • The Traitor and the Thief, Gareth Ward (Walker Books Australia)

For interview opportunities, images and further information please contact:

Gemma Finlay 
Notable PR
P: 027 628 9695
E: gemma@notablepr.co.nz