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Age-old Maori legends scoops top prize

Modern telling of age-old Maori legends scoops top prize in New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards

Weaving Earth & Sky: Myths and Legends of Aotearoa by Robert Sullivan, with illustrations by Gavin Bishop, has won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award. John Allen, Acting Chief Executive for New Zealand Post, presented the Award to Auckland poet and writer, Robert Sullivan at the Awards ceremony at Parliament early this evening. The ceremony was hosted by the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage, Judith Tizard.

After a summer spent reading and re-reading submissions for this year’s Awards, the collective view of the judging panel – broadcaster Kim Hill, children’s bookshop owner Sheila Sinclair and illustrator Philip Webb – was that “the wealth and variety of children’s literature published in this small country are a continuing source of delight.”

The Awards are separated into four categories, plus one overall winner. The winners of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2003 are:

The New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year 2003 - Weaving Earth And Sky: Myths & Legends of Aotearoa by Robert Sullivan with illustrations by Gavin Bishop (Random House) The judges commented that in his re-telling of well-known Maori myths, Sullivan “has woven magic into this book. His text is accessible and totally readable while still retaining the essence of the ancient oral storytelling tradition.” Of Bishop’s illustrations for the book, they said his “bold illustrations are strongly atmospheric and perfectly match the atmosphere and tone of the stories.” Weaving Earth And Sky was also the winner of the Non Fiction Category.

Junior Fiction - Buddy by V M Jones (HarperCollins) “Funny and moving, extremely well written and a real page-turner,” said the judges of this debut novel. “In Josh Crawford, Jones has created a tremendously likeable character, on the cusp of adulthood.” Vicky Jones was winner of the Best First Book Award for her book Buddy.

Senior Fiction - Alchemy by Margaret Mahy (HarperCollins) “This book,” said the judges, “succeeds on several levels, incorporating some fairly erudite philosophical concepts, but Mahy, as usual, wears her intelligence lightly, and never loses sight of the humanity of the central characters.”

Picture Book - Pigtails the Pirate, written and illustrated by David Elliot (Random House). To be able to write and illustrate a picture book calls for particular talent. The judges felt Elliot had proved himself in both. “This is a book that will be pored over and read out loud with pleasure and laughter many times. As an illustrator David is a true craftsman.”

The winner of each category is awarded $5,000 while the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award winner takes home an extra $5,000.

An Honour Award was presented to Roger Twiname in recognition of the quality of his illustrations for the picture book, The New Zealand A to Z All Ages Alphabetical Alliterations (Reed Publishers).

Children’s Choice Award - Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms? by Dawn McMillan and Bert Signal, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird (published by Reed Publishing) Children’s book authors often regard the Children’s Choice Award as the most exciting of awards to win because it is quite literally, the choice of the children. This year close to 165,000 voting cards were distributed amongst schools, libraries and retail outlets nationwide, the highest number since the Award’s inception in 1997. Apart from getting the thumbs up from New Zealand kids, the winning authors and illustrator each received a glass sculpture crafted by Wanganui artist Emma Camden.

The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival and Awards are sponsored by New Zealand Post, supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and are administered by Booksellers New Zealand.

Winning authors and illustrators are available for interview Photographs of authors and illustrators and the Awards ceremony are available in high resolution, jpeg format

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