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NZ Writer Wins Award In International Literacy

New Zealand Writer Wins Award In International Literary Competition

Wellington writer, Vivienne Joseph, has won an award in the 2001 UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance.

And as one of only eight winners she’s off to Italy to receive the award for her book The A.O.K. Project which is to be presented at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (April 5-8).

Three hundred and nine books from 58 countries in 35 languages were in the competition. Forty four books were shortlisted. Prizes were given in two age group categories: under 13 and 13 to 18. In addition to first prize in each category, three ‘Honourable Mentions’ were made in each category and Vivienne Joseph’s book received ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Under 13 category.

Set on the Kapiti coast where Joseph lives, The A.O.K. Project features a young boy from Kapiti Primary School who has to get involved in a ‘terminally stupid’ project which involves helping people in the community without being paid. What starts as a ‘drag’ turns into an adventure when the boy meets up with a former Tiger Moth pilot.

In contrast to many stories today which explore darker issues confronting children and young people, The A.O.K.Project is a positive and happy tale. The book’s theme, exploring how much the boy learns from the Acts of Kindness project, is very also topical with 2001 being the United Nations Year of the Volunteer.

The author of several novels and picture books for children, Joseph said she is “over the moon” to have won the award. “It is wonderful to have a book which is so firmly set in New Zealand, recognised outside of this country. I guess the concerns are universal and in junior fiction like this I like to see children smile and get a laugh when they read,” she said.

The UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded every two years to books for children and young people that best embody the principles of tolerance, peace and mutual understanding based on respect for other people and cultures.

The A.O.K.Project with quirky drawings by Trevor Pye is published by Mallinson Rendel Publishers.


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