26 Jan 2010
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Dunedin publisher Barbara Larson is the 2010 winner of New Zealand's top award in children's literature, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal.
Given annually by the Storylines Children's Literature Trust, the award recognises Barbara Larson's specific and outstanding contribution to the important genre of young adult fiction.
"Barbara's continuing personal commitment to publishing high quality novels for teenagers for more than a decade has been remarkable," says Storylines Trust chair, Dr Libby Limbrick.
"Her company Longacre Press has attracted not only some of the best established authors in the country - among them William Taylor, Jack Lasenby, Joanna Orwin and Kate De Goldi - but solidly put its faith in nurturing a generation of new writers.
"These have included Bernard Beckett, Ella West, Anna MacKenzie, Sandy MacKay, Fleur Beale, Penelope Todd, Lorraine Orman, Ted Dawe and Tania Roxborogh. Novels by this extraordinary stable of authors have figured prominently in children's literature awards for the past 15 years. Many have also been published, and won acclaim, internationally."
Established in 1994, Longacre Press quickly became recognised as a leading independent publisher, producing at least six works for young readers a year as well as award-winning high-quality non-fiction. In late 2009 the company was purchased by Random House New Zealand.
"We are pleased that Barbara, though based in Dunedin, will become a roving commissioner of new fiction for Random," says Dr Limbrick, "so that her extraordinary instinct for spotting and nurturing new talent will continue."
Barbara Larson is the second publisher to win the Margaret Mahy Medal since its inception in 1992, joining Ann Mallinson, Wellington-based publisher of Lynley Dodd's Hairy Maclary books. Other winners have included writers Joy Cowley, Maurice Gee and Dorothy Butler, and illustrators Gavin Bishop and Robyn Belton.
Barbara Larson will be presented with the Margaret Mahy Medal, and deliver the annual Margaret Mahy lecture, at Storylines' annual Margaret Mahy Day in Auckland on Saturday 27 March 2010.