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Children's Book Award Finalists - Books for Prince George

News Release: Tuesday, 8 April 2014


What special Kiwi gift can you give a small prince who is not even a year old? Specially inscribed Picture Books from the cream of New Zealand children’s authors — that’s what.

Prince George will be the recipient of the five finalists’ Picture Books for this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, whose finalists are announced today. Each book has a personal message from the author to Prince George.

The chair of the Book Awards Governance Group (BAGG) which oversees the Awards, Nicola Legat, says, “With this week’s Royal visit coinciding with the announcement of the finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, we saw an ideal opportunity to organise a booky gift for Prince George. The authors’ messages to the Prince are absolutely delightful and very personal to him.”

“Each year we will send Prince George autographed copies of the Award finalists. First the Picture Books as he’s so young, then he’ll receive the Non-Fiction and Junior Fiction. When he’s 13, we’ll send the autographed Young Adult Fiction books. By the time Prince George grows up, the Cambridge family will have a wonderful collection of New Zealand literature, all personally inscribed. We’re packing these books up now, and they will be waiting for him at Kensington Palace when he and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge return home from this trip.”

This year marks an extraordinarily high standard of children’s literature that has impressed the judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, with the finalists in each category announced today.

Twenty finalists have been selected from more than 120 books submitted for the Awards. A panel of three judges (judging convenor and author Barbara Else; cartoonist and graphic novelist Ant Sang; children’s librarian and blogger Zac Harding), with the assistance of Te Reo Māori language advisor, writer and broadcaster Maraea Rakuraku, has read, analysed and pored over what Barbara Else says are works of immense variety.

Barbara says, “The finalists’ books have something for everyone in all four categories of the Awards. Tiny children and their parents will delight in the diverse and quirky range of picture books. Primary school readers will enjoy fantasy, realism and books based loosely on real life stories. The non-fiction finalists will appeal to children and adults alike with subjects ranging from honey bees and New Zealand’s natural environment to hunting and fishing, ANZAC Day and wearable arts.”

“High school students will find fantasy, science fiction and gritty fiction which will resonate strongly with the world they live in,” says Barbara. “As judges, we’ve acknowledged that young adult fiction, both in New Zealand and around the world, is following a number of trends and, indeed, young adult fiction has always addressed big life issues. Some young adult books have darker narratives which help readers explore what to them may be new scenarios and attitudes. Reading gives these young people a more controlled and structured framework in which to feel their own way through these themes.”

The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults finalists are selected across four categories: Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Junior Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. The winners will be announced on Monday 23 June, in Auckland.

Barbara says this year’s finalists demonstrate the growing importance of a book’s physical qualities. “It’s good to see that publishers are better understanding that excellent writing deserves a matching quality in how a book is presented, its visual appeal. Through the combination of the quality of the paper, an arresting cover, use of colour, images and illustrations and typography, a book becomes a treasure on all levels, something we love to hold in our hands as well as our hearts.’

“New Zealand literature for children and young adults continues to achieve impressive heights. All the Award finalist books repay reading and re-reading and will unquestionably delight readers of many ages.”

Inaugural Māori Language award winner
BAGG has introduced a new award this year — the Māori Language award, to recognise excellence in works published wholly in Te Reo. This new award reflects the growing number of quality entries of children’s books in the Māori language. A book submitted for this award is entered in one of the four main categories and nominated for the Māori Language award on the entry form. The winner of the inaugural Māori Language award is also announced today.

Keri Kaa’s book Taka Ki Ro Wai is a moving and beautifully presented true story set in the North Island’s east coast community of Rangitukia involving a horse, a pig and the innate understandings of life between species. Written entirely in Te Reo Māori, the book is interspersed with exquisite illustrations, photography and design by Martin Page. Taka Ki Ro Wai is published by Tania&Martin.

Taka Ki Ro Wai by Keri Kaa and Martin Page has set the bar exceedingly high for this new award,” says Maraea Rakuraku. “This book is a delight and children and adults alike will respond to the Māori-centric story told in te reo rangatira.”

Children’s Choice opens today
Today also marks the opening voting for the ever-popular Children’s Choice Award. Primary school children and young adults can now vote for their favourite books from the 20 titles on the finalists’ list or the Māori Language award winner. Prize money of $2,000 is awarded to the author of the Children’s Choice winner.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adult finalists for 2014 are:

Picture Books
Machines and Me: Boats by Catherine Foreman; Scholastic New Zealand
The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka; Penguin Group (NZ), Puffin
The Three Bears … Sort Of by Yvonne Morrison & Donovan Bixley; Scholastic New Zealand
Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver & Sarah Davis; Gecko Press
Watch Out, Snail! by Gay Hay & Margaret Tolland; Page Break Ltd

An Extraordinary Land by Peter Hayden & Rod Morris; HarperCollins Publishers (NZ)
Anzac Day: The New Zealand story by Philippa Werry; New Holland Publishers
Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber & Brian Lovelock; Walker Books Australia
The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting & Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson; Random House New Zealand
Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston; Scholastic New Zealand

Junior Fiction
A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik; Scholastic New Zealand
Dunger by Joy Cowley; Gecko Press
Felix and the Red Rats by James Norcliffe; Random House New Zealand, Longacre
Project Huia by Des Hunt; Scholastic New Zealand
The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg; Harper Collins Publishers (NZ)

Young Adult Fiction
A Necklace of Souls by R L Stedman; Harper Collins Publishers (NZ), HarperVoyager
Bugs by Whiti Hereaka; Huia Publishers
Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox; Gecko Press
Speed Freak by Fleur Beale; Random House New Zealand
When We Wake by Karen Healey; Allen & Unwin

Winner – Māori Language award
Taka Ki Ro Wai by Keri Kaa & Martin Page; Tania&Martin

“The 2014 Awards finalists in all four categories are very readable, interesting and also fun books that will reach out to both teenagers and much younger readers. And we congratulate Keri Kaa on winning the inaugural Māori Language award for her wonderful book Taka Ki Ro Wai,” says Nicola Legat.

“We are looking forward to the upcoming New Zealand Post Book Awards Festival and Finalists Tour for Children and Young Adults on 17-25 May, where there will be more than 200 events in 24 regions nationwide. During the nine days of the Festival children and young adults are encouraged to take part in a range of stimulating reading, writing and illustration-based activities focussed around the impressive quality of New Zealand books for their age groups.”

The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and sponsored by New Zealand Post. The awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens New Zealand.


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