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Judges prepare for a long, hot summer of reading..

Monday 24 November, 2008

127 books and counting!
Judges prepare for a long, hot summer of reading...

The judges for the 2009 New Zealand Post Book Awards have positioned their deck chairs, turned off their phones and slapped on the sunscreen as they embark on what will be a wonderful summer of reading.

Writer and former children’s librarian Bill Nagelkerke, Children’s Literature Consultant Rosemary Tisdall, and children’s editor and career bookseller Jenni Keestra, are the three people who have been chosen to judge the Awards in 2009. In search of the very best, they will each read and assess over 130 books for Children and Young Adults published in New Zealand in 2008. From picture books by iconic authors and illustrators, to exciting junior and young adult fiction and a huge variety of non-fiction titles, the judges will read them all.

Judges’ convenor, Bill Nagelkerke says “Books are an incredibly important part of childhood.”

“Those dog-eared pages of much-loved favourites become a part of who we are, and often shape our view of the world.

”In the past it has been Hairy Maclary’s curious adventures, Maui’s heroic acts, and Margaret Mahy’s stories about tentative steps into teens, that have taken on a life of their own in the imaginations of young readers. We’re looking for stories that the current generation of young New Zealanders, and their parents, will fall in love with.”

Jenni Keestra says “the Awards promote excellence in children's literature.

”It’s vital that we celebrate and acknowledge great writing, illustration and publishing in New Zealand,” says judge and bookseller Jenni Keestra. “The standard of publishing here is very high, and these awards are a real boost for authors and publishers, resulting in many of our award-winning books becoming extremely popular, both at home and internationally.”

Rosemary Tisdall is passionate about books that encourage young people to read.

“A really good book will resonate with a child, and either transport them to another world, or make them see their own world differently. The use of language, storyline, illustration, factual information and an opportunity to use their own imagination are the key ingredients we’ll be looking for as we read all these books over summer.”

The 2009 New Zealand Post Book Awards finalists will be announced on 3 March, 2009, and winners announced at an Awards Ceremony in Auckland on 20 May, 2009. Children and teenagers will also have the opportunity to vote for their favourite book, selecting from the finalist titles, for the popular Children’s Choice Award. Voting begins online at, and via voting cards available in bookshops and libraries nationwide, when the finalists are announced on 3 March, 2009.

New Zealand Post has been a steadfast sponsor of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for more than 10 years. 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.

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 –

Background information:

Bill Nagelkerke worked as a children's librarian in Christchurch for twenty-five years. In 2006 and 2008 he was a member of the international jury for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards, administered by IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People.
Bill left library work recently to pursue, amongst other things, his own interest in writing. His novel My Story: Sitting On the Fence, was a finalist in the junior fiction category of the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Bill is also involved with Te Tai Tamariki, a charitable trust based in Christchurch working to establish a national centre to collect and preserve illustrations and manuscripts of New Zealand children’s literature.

Rosemary Tisdall is currently on contract to the National Library of New Zealand in Auckland as a Reference Librarian working with the SSLP team (Strengthening School Libraries Project). For the remainder of her working week she helps individual children develop their love of reading, writes Teacher Resource Guides for a children’s theatre company and reviews for Family Times, a children’s magazine, through her company ‘Getting Kids Into Books’.

Rosemary’s community involvement is with Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand. She has been a committee member for about ten years, and was Chairperson for two. She is currently on the Trust Board, as well as on subcommittees, including the Storylines’ Festival, Notable Books and IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People).

Rosemary was one of the judges for the LIANZA book awards in 2008,and also writes reviews for Magpies, an Australasian children’s literature magazine. Her background is in teaching, at intermediate level, and more recently as a primary school librarian. She is married and has two beautiful adult daughters.

Jenni Keestra grew up surrounded by books and, when her godmother and mother joined forces to open Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop in 1980, it became the catalyst for a career in children’s books. She has worked as a children’s book specialist for over twenty years and has spent the last nine years managing children’s books for the Whitcoulls chain. Jenni has edited four volumes of the Puffin Treasury of New Zealand Children’s Stories (Penguin), and is currently working on ideas for more projects. She lives in Auckland with her partner, daughter, and her collection of about ten thousand books.

Tuesday 3 March Finalists announced
Children’s Choice Award voting begins
Friday 1 May Children’s Choice Award voting closes
Monday 11 May Festival week begins with finalist writers on tour
Wednesday 20 May Awards ceremony in Auckland – winners announced


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