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Dynamic team to judge year's best children's books

MEDIA RELEASE – Tuesday 13 December 2005

Dynamic team to judge this year’s best New Zealand children’s books

The tenth annual New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults will be judged by a dynamic team of judges who share an active passion for children’s books and reading. Children’s bookseller, Julie Harper is the convenor of the judging panel. She is joined by writer Graeme Lay and television producer and presenter, Carol Hirschfeld. Together they bring a wealth of experience and a considerable commitment to the task of selecting the best New Zealand children’s books published during 2005.

Julie Harper was a judge for the New Zealand Post Book Awards last year. She says that reading has always been an important leisure activity for her and she feels privileged to have the opportunity to be able to share her passion with others, especially children. “In my 12 years of bookselling it has been marvellous to be part of the continued growth of local publishing for children. Judging the New Zealand Post Book Awards has been a highlight of my career, enabling me to be actively involved in rewarding our most talented children's authors and illustrators."

A former primary school teacher, Julie manages Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop in Auckland. She is the co-ordinator of the New Zealand section of Magpies Magazine, an Australian-based review magazine for children’s books, and contributes regular reviews and articles. She is also an active member of the Management Committee of Storylines: The Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand.

Graeme Lay is a full-time writer of fiction and non-fiction for both adults and young adults. Two of his novels for young adults, Leaving One Foot Island and Return to One Foot Island, were finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards in previous years. He has been a Fiction category advisor for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and most recently judged the secondary division of the Sunday Star Times Short Story competition. Graeme lives and works from his homes in Auckland and in the Coromandel.

Carol Hirschfeld, is well known as producer and sometime presenter for TV3’s Campbell Live and is a passionate advocate of books and reading. Carol has been a judge for the W H Smith Travcom Travel Book of the Year Awards and, in July this year, was involved in a marathon launch-day reading of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. She has two children aged eleven and five, both of whom she expects to be able to utilise as specialist advisors in the judging process.

The panel of three judges will read over one hundred books for children and teenagers published during 2005. They will be looking for the best books in four categories – Picture Book, Non Fiction, Junior Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. The judges are assisted by a Te Reo Maori advisor, Hone Apanui. The category finalists will be announced on 8 February 2006. The winners of each category and the New Zealand Post Book of the Year will be announced on 17 May 2006.

Children and teenagers also get the opportunity to vote for their favourite book, selecting from the finalist titles, for the Children’s Choice Award. Voting begins on 8 February 2006.

New Zealand Post has been a steadfast sponsor of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults since 1997. Their partnership has seen the awards flourish, growing from strength to strength over the last decade. New Zealand Post’s support of these awards reflects their deep commitment to promoting literacy and literature throughout the country. Working closely with Booksellers New Zealand, 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 Book Awards finalists by supporting the Books in Homes programme each year.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and are administered by Booksellers New Zealand.

ENDS

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