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New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards winners announced

16 May 2012

This content is tagged as Literature .

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The true story of a World War l Kiwi soldier has won the country’s highest honour in children’s writing at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

Nice Day for a War, by author Matt Elliot and illustrated by Chris Slane was awarded the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year at a ceremony in Wellington on 16 May. The book is based on the original diaries of Elliot’s grandfather, Corporal Cyril Elliot.

“Nice Day for a War is a stand-out book which offers young readers an honest glimpse into the lives of soldiers during World War I,” says Gillian Candler, the Awards Convenor of Judges.

“The beautiful, fluid line drawings and muted watercolour washes bring the diary to life. The interplay between the illustrations and text creates a powerful, emotionally engaging story for young readers.

“The judging panel are delighted to award it the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year for 2012,” says Candler.

A picture book, The Cat’s Pyjamas by first time published writer and illustrator Catherine Foreman, won the coveted 2012 Children’s Choice Award. The award is heralded as a significant indicator of audience opinion. The book’s main character enchanted children throughout New Zealand with his colourful collection of pyjamas; one for every day of the week.

Debut writer Leonie Agnew not only took this year’s Best First Book Award but also won the Junior Fiction category for her novel Super Finn.

“The characters in Super Finn are incredibly funny and thoroughly believable. This book touches the heart and the funny bone. The judges couldn’t ask for more,” says Candler.

The Young Adult Fiction category award went to Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby. Calling the Gods was praised by the judges as a masterful work that transcends genre and can be read, with pleasure, on many levels.

Rāhui by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross won the Picture Book category. The book has two language editions: Te Reo Māori and English.

“Both versions of this beautiful book have a timeless quality, with the story dealing sensitively with the sad drowning of a cousin,” Candler says.

The judging panel, which included children’s bookseller Annemarie Florian and author and illustrator Bob Kerr, were impressed by the thought-provoking nature of this year’s finalists and said the books would help young people better understand both themselves and others.

“It was a pleasure selecting the winners of the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  We read aloud, laughed, were intrigued and held in suspense. And we empathised. This year’s finalists all feature strong stories that hold the reader, skilful language and illustration, and engaging themes,” Candler added.


The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners are:

New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year
Nice Day for a War by Matt Elliott and illustrated by Chris Slane (HarperCollins Publishers)

Children’s Choice Award
The Cat’s Pyjamas by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic New Zealand)

Best First Book Award
Super Finn by Leonie Agnew (Scholastic New Zealand)

Picture Book category
Rāhui (Maori version) by Chris Szekely translated by Brian Morris and illustrated by Malcolm Ross (Huia Publishers)
Rāhui (English version) by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross (Huia Publishers)

Honour Award
Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang (HarperCollins Publishers)

Non-Fiction category
Nice Day for a War by Matt Elliott and illustrated by Chris Slane (HarperCollins Publishers)

Honour Award
Digging Up The Past: Archaeology For The Young & Curious by David Veart (Auckland University Press)

Junior Fiction category
Super Finn by Leonie Agnew (Scholastic New Zealand)

Honour Award
The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else (Gecko Press)

Young Adult Fiction category
Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollins Publishers)

Honour Award
The Bridge by Jane Higgins (Text Publishing Company)


Each Category Award winner received $7,500.  The winner of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award took home an extra $7,500.  The winner of the Best First Book Award and the Children’s Choice Award received prize money of $2,000 each.

Each Honour Award recipient received $500. Honour Awards are discretionary and are awarded in recognition of particular features in a book. 

New Zealand Post is proud to be principal sponsor of the New Zealand Book Awards and the Children’s Book Awards.  New Zealand Post is committed to promoting and assisting literacy in our communities and supporting excellence in literature, and to actively encouraging New Zealanders to read and enjoy books.  Additional funding for the Awards is provided by Creative New Zealand. 

The Awards are overseen by the New Zealand Post Book Awards Governance Group, administered by Booksellers NZ and including representatives of the New Zealand Society of Authors, The Publishers Association of New Zealand, New Zealand Post and Creative New Zealand.

For further information, interview, photo or filming opportunities please contact: Penny Hartill, Hartill Communications Ltd: 09 445 7525, 021 721 424, phartill@xtra.co.nz

www.nzpostbookawards.co.nz