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Finalists Announced in NZ Post Children's Book Awards

Media Release
Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Finalists Announced in NZ Post Children's Book Awards

A diverse range of themes and styles - but where are the heroines?

An impressive variety of books make up the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. And Chief Judge Bernard Beckett says it suggests we have a group of New Zealand writers who are confident enough to pursue their own interests.

In all, 19 books have been selected as finalists across four categories: best picture book, junior fiction, young adult and non-fiction. The winners from each category will be announced in June.

War was a dominant theme among this year’s entries - a year before the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Bernard said: “As judges, we were pleased to see coverage given to conflicts less likely to be known to young readers such as The Boer War or the conflict in Malaysia. Prominence was also given to the bravery of those who resisted armed conflict, both in World War One and at Parihaka – that strikes us as tremendously important.”

The finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries read by the panel of three judges - children’s literature expert and author Eirlys Hunter, presenter of Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday programme, Lynn Freeman and author Bernard Beckett.

The judges said it was a privilege to read and assess New Zealand’s best books for children and young adults in 2012.

However, the judges raised concerns over the many entries that had great potential but didn’t meet the standard required to become a finalist.

“A large number of books were crying out for a more considered editing or design process: books with clear potential that needed only another careful draft; delightful children’s stories let down by the illustrations or design layout. To see such possibilities unrealised was a clear frustration for us.”

“We were also surprised to see how few strong female characters there were in these pages. Young girls are in danger of seeing themselves once again as serving only decorative roles in stories, and we hope this is more a blip than the beginning of a retrograde trend.”

School-aged children and young adults can now vote for their favourite books from among the finalists for the coveted Children’s Choice Award.


Picture Book
A Great Cake by Tina Matthews – (Wellington)
Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly – (Otago)
Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop – (Christchurch)
Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum by Terri Rose Baynton – (Taupo)
Remember That November / Maumahara ki tērā Nōema by Jennifer Beck, Lindy Fisher & Kawata Teepa – (Auckland)

Junior Fiction
The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi & Gregory O’Brien – (Wellington)
The Queen and the Nobody Boy (A Tale of Fontania) by Barbara Else – (Wellington)
My Brother's War by David Hill – (New Plymouth)
Red Rocks by Rachael King – (Christchurch)
Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby – (Wellington)

Young Adult Fiction
Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran – (South Canterbury)
Into the River by Ted Dawe – (Auckland)
The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager – (Wellington)
Reach by Hugh Brown – (Wellington)
Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott – (Havelock North)

100 Amazing Tales From Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere – (Wellington)
Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian & Heather Hunt – (Whangarei)
Taketakerau, The Millennium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt & Kelly Spencer – (Bay of Plenty)
At the Beach: Explore & discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler – (Wellington)

Note: Four finalists were selected in the non-fiction category, compared to five in the other categories. The judges felt the books selected represented the best on offer, and all were significantly better than the next tier of titles considered.


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