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Authors, books and pizza a perfect trinity

Authors, books and pizza a perfect trinity

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards, presented in Wellington on Monday evening, have sparked a new level of interest this year with the support and partnership of Hell Pizza.

To coincide with the LIANZA Finalist announcement in early June, a national reading campaign kicked off in libraries and schools across the country. Children and teens were rewarded with a free ‘333 Kids Pizza’ after completing a ‘pizza reading challenge’.

The Hell Pizza North Island Caravan travelled into regional New Zealand where children in towns without Hell stores had the opportunity to redeem their free pizza.

Corin Haines, LIANZA President said “I continue to be blown away by the success of the Awards this year. That Librarians are seeing a difference in their communities is amazing, that this is providing value in the lives of children across New Zealand in terms of reading and engagement is gold”.

Celebrating the very best at the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards ceremony at National Library in Wellington on Monday night, Fifi Colston was awarded the LIANZA Elsie Locke medal for Wearable Wonders in the non-fiction category.

LIANZA Judge, Pamela Jones from South Taranaki District Libraries said “this is a beautiful resource and schools in my region are already using this fabulous book as part of their program, including a tool kit for a Wearable Fiesta underway in Taranaki".

The judges also commended The Beginners Guide to Hunting and Fishing in New Zealand by Paul Adamson as an important and long awaited book by many in New Zealand, especially the rural provinces.

Pene Walsh, Panel Convenor and Gisborne District Library Manager, said the overall quality of the non-fiction category has been restored to its former excellent quality after a nervous lull in the last few years due to the apprehension about the internet taking over children’s information needs. She says there is still room for publishers to explore further as many children – just like adults prefer a great non-fiction book to read.

Brian Lovelock was awarded the LIANZA Russell Clark Illustration medal for Flight of the Honey Bee with special recognition to author, Raymond Huber. This stunning book also featured as a finalist for the non-fiction category.

Ms Walsh said “the presentation in all of the finalist’s books was beautiful. Publishers are still choosing the illustrative medium to enthrall our young, and to be included in the shortlist for what is one of the few national awards celebrating illustration is a triumph”.

Following the trend in 2013, the LIANZA Young Adult category has provided important opportunities to put challenging topics in front of children and young adults.

Ms Jones said “it was apparent when I was speaking to adults about young adult literature that people tend to shy away from difficult conversations. Books like Bugs and Dear Vincent provide the opportunity to put the tough subjects into the teens’ hands and provides a forum for positive discussion”.

Mandy Hager, currently residing in France for the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, was awarded the LIANZA Young Adult Award for Dear Vincent. This book captivated from the start, the reader is taken on a journey which encompasses loss through suicide. Art and an affinity with the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh provide hope and purpose.

Ms Hager also won the LIANZA Young Adult award in 2013 for The Nature of Ash and in 2010 for Smashed. Hager’s new book Singing Home the Whale is due to be released in September.

Ngā Kaitiaki a Tama! by Kawata Teepa and illustrated by Jim Byrt is the winner of the Te Reo Māori category, Te Kura Pounamu.

Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau is the Principal Librarian for Children’s Services at HB Williams Memorial Library, Gisborne and is a member of Te Rōpū Whakahau, the organisation uniting Māori librarians and information specialists in Aotearoa New Zealand. Te Rangi Rangi commented “this is an outstanding example of what is offered to Māori readers and others learning te reo Māori. We agreed this story would be well loved”.

Taka Ki Ro Wai is another notable finalist that also features as a finalist in the Russell Clark illustration category. The judges were pleased to note a book written entirely in te reo Māori featured in the illustration awards, partly as a reflection of the quality of work and partly as its inclusion reflects a bicultural approach to books and reading that librarians actively support.

Much beloved Joy Cowley was awarded New Zealand’s oldest book prize, the LIANZA Esther Glen medal for junior fiction with her novel Dunger.

Dunger, set in the nostalgic setting of the Marlborough Sounds, is a true kiwi bach experience providing many laugh out loud moments, capturing Cowley’s gift of portraying real characters in a setting many of us can fondly relate to.

“Joy Cowley has written a remarkable collection of children’s books and stories, Dunger is no exception and with its gorgeous cover and overall production is well deserving of the Esther Glen medal” said Jane Thomsen, LIANZA Judge and the Subject Librarian at the Education Library at Victoria University of Wellington.

The 2014 Librarians’ Choice Award, is an important koha from the profession, where librarians across all library sectors throughout New Zealand had an opportunity to vote for their favourite Children’s Book of the Year. The voting was tight till the closing hour and Henry’s Map by David Elliot and Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager were close contenders.

Melinda Syzmanik’s junior fiction novel A Winters Day in 1939 was honoured with the 2014 Librarians’ Choice Award for her beautifully written book about a young boy and his family’s experience in Poland during WWII.

Thomsen said “The book encompasses gritty realism, survival and determination and is another excellent resource for schools to engage in their teaching programs”.

The LIANZA Judges thanked publishers for their excellent support in New Zealand. The quality of the 2014 finalists is a true indication that young people’s literature is in very good hands and is accessible to all through our wonderful Libraries. They also said they had ‘hell of a good time’ with more children than ever taking an interest in the finalist’s books thanks to the intriguing relationship between children and teens, books and pizza.

2014 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards Winners

LIANZA Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award
For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15.
Dunger by Joy Cowley, (Gecko Press)

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award
For the distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above.
Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)

LIANZA Russell Clark Illustration Award
For the most distinguished illustrations in a children's book.
Flight of the Honey Bee, by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Elsie Locke Non-fiction Award
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.
Wearable Wonders, by Fifi Colston, (Scholastic New Zealand)

LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2014
Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA.
A Winter’s Day in 1939, by Melinda Szymanik, (Scholastic New Zealand)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)
Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people.
Ngā Kaitiaki a Tama!, by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Jim Byrt, (Huia NZ Ltd)

About the Awards
The awards, encompassing New Zealand’s longest running book prize, celebrate excellence in children’s books and the unique contribution New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators have made to building national identity and cultural heritage.

The awards are organised by LIANZA (the New Zealand Library Association) and are uniquely judged by a panel of librarians, showcasing the knowledge and expertise of the library and information profession.

For further information about the awards visit:


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