Picture Book Lands Premier Children’s Literature Prize
18 May 2011
Canterbury literary legend, Margaret Mahy and internationally recognised illustrator from Dunedin, David Elliot, have won the country’s most prestigious gong for children’s literature, The New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award for their picture book, The Moon & Farmer McPhee.
“From its breathtakingly high production standards to its delightful message of taking time out to enjoy life, The Moon & Farmer McPhee is an absolute treasure,” says New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards convenor of judges, Ruth McIntyre.
“The sheer poetry of the language and the gorgeous luminous illustrations each magnificently complements the other. Thoughtful details such as the artfully placed cut-outs and fold-out pages, the joyful expressions on the animals’ faces, the lovely word-play and the positive message all add to the complete package”, McIntyre says.
The Moon & Farmer McPhee took on Leon Davidson’s gritty account of war in Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Front; Fleur Beale’s stunning young adult fantasy, Fierce September; and Sherryl Jordan’s humorous pirate novella, Finnigan & the Pirates, to claim the ultimate prize.
The judging panel, which included writer and former teacher William Taylor, and school librarian, Dee Brooker, collectively remarked that they had been delighted by the high standard of the books submitted for this year’s awards, something which made their task of choosing the winners incredibly difficult.
”A quarter of the submissions were from new writers and illustrators. Their work was of an extremely high standard, suggesting that children’s book publishing in New Zealand is in rude good health, despite the recession.”
The Moon & Farmer McPhee also took the Picture Book Category award at a gala ceremony held at the Auckland Convention Centre this evening.
Another picture book, Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark Sommerset, illustrated by his wife Rowan Sommerset, won the coveted 2011 Children’s Choice Award with a clear majority. This prize is highly regarded by authors and illustrators, who see it as a huge accolade; the big ‘thumbs up’ from their readers. With snappy dialogue and hilarious illustrations, Baa Baa Smart Sheep is a laugh-out-loud story that will leave you thinking sheep aren’t as stupid as we might think.
The full list of Category Award winners and the Honour Award recipient in the 2011 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are:
Picture Book Category Award and New Zealand Post Book of the Year
The Moon & Farmer McPheeby Margaret Mahy, illustrated by David Elliot (Random House New Zealand)
Non-fiction Category Award
Zero Hour: The Anzacs on the Western Frontby Leon Davidson (Text Publishing)
Junior Fiction Category Award
Finnigan and the Pirates: A Fine Fandangoby Sherryl Jordan (Scholastic New Zealand Limited)
Young Adult Fiction Category Award
Fierce SeptemberbyFleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)
Best First Book Award
Hollie Chipsby Anna Gowan (Scholastic New Zealand Limited)
Children’s Choice Award
Baa Baa Smart Sheepby Mark Sommerset, illustrated by Rowan Sommerset (Dreamboat Books Ltd)
New Zealand children also cast their votes for books in the four main categories and the Children’s Choice winners they chose are: Picture Book Category – Baa Baa Smart Sheepby Mark Sommerset, illustrated by Rowan Sommerset (Dreamboat Books Ltd);Non Fiction Category – Who's Cooking Tonight?by Claire Gourley withGlenda Gourley (Penguin Books); Junior Fiction Category – Hollie Chipsby Anna Gowan (Scholastic New Zealand Limited); and Young Adult Category – Smiling JackbyKen Catran (HarperCollins)
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.
New Zealand Post has been supporting the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards since 1997 to help promote literacy and literature throughout the country. The partnership has seen the Awards flourish, growing from strength to strength over the last decade. Working closely with Booksellers NZ, New Zealand Post and other dedicated segments of the community actively encourage New Zealand children to read and enjoy books. For those with limited access to new works, New Zealand Post also purchases and distributes books by the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalists through the Books in Homes programme each year.
The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and are administered by Booksellers NZ.