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By June 7, 2017No Comments

“Characters burst off the pages, delighting us at every turn,” say the judges of this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. They have selected 35 finalists for the 2017 awards.

“This year’s shortlist reminds us that books are powerful vehicles for helping children make sense of their world and gain a better understanding of themselves and others. At times the vividly descriptive writing was brutal and heart-breaking, providing moving portrayals of life through the eyes of children and teenagers. All finalist titles are convincing in their realism, skilfully laced with honour and honesty throughout,” says convenor of judges Pam Jones.

Many of the books submitted dealt with serious issues. “War featured highly, alongside other topical themes like teenage pregnancy, surveillance, abuse, homelessness, racial tensions and bullying. Coming-of-age stories and characters that are living with extended family members highlighted the meaning of family and love,” Pam Jones says.

The finalists in the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are selected across six categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustration and te reo Māori; and the Best First Book category. There were 152 entries submitted for the 2017 awards.

This year, Copyright Licensing NZ (CLNZ) is the new sponsor for the Young Adult Fiction Award. CLNZ helps the owners of published content to earn a living from their work by licensing copying from books, journals, magazines and newspapers by schools and other education and commercial organisations. The licence revenue generated by CLNZ is a valuable source of income for authors and publishers.

CLNZ’s CEO Paula Browning says, “Celebrating great New Zealand books and supporting New Zealand authors is at the heart of what we do. We are delighted to contribute to the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults by sponsoring the Copyright Licensing NZ Young Adult Fiction Award.”

An integral part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is the HELL Reading Challenge, now in its fourth year. It has been hugely successful in getting kids reading and enjoying the pleasure of stories – with the bonus of free pizza rewards from HELL Pizza.

HELL Pizza general manager Ben Cumming says the company has a very strong commitment to get kids hooked on books. “Reading is cool again and we want pizza to be a means of encouraging kids to read heaps of books. In 2016, 200,000 pizza wheels were distributed and more than 1 million books were read by Kiwi kids as a result. This year we want even more young readers to discover the thrill of a great book, and we’re aiming to circulate over 250,000 wheels. With 600 schools and libraries already registered and more than 175,000 pizza wheels already distributed, that target is looking easily achievable.”

The HELL Reading Challenge opened on 1 March and closes on Sunday, 3 December.

The judging panel for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults comprises children and young adults librarian, Pam Jones (convenor); education lecturer, Trish Brooking; author Ben Brown; reviewer and promoter of New Zealand children’s literature, Sarah Forster; and WORD Christchurch programme director and author, Rachael King. For the second year, the panel is joined by English academic, Professor Martin Salisbury who is the advisor for the Russell Clark Illustration Award. Professor Salisbury is the Professor of Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK and leads its MA Children’s Book Illustration programme. He has been a member of the international jury for a number of illustration and picture book awards.

The te reo Māori entries were judged by University of Auckland Kaitaiki Māori librarian, Riki-Lee Saua (convenor); Anahera Morehu, Library Manager Arts, Māori, and Pasifika Services at the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services; Principal Librarian Children’s and Young Adult Services at the HB Williams Memorial Library, Gisborne, Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau; and Rongo Waerea, the Māori Services Librarian at Auckland’s Otara Library.

In the Picture Book Award the judges were delighted to see stories about people as well as animals, and they liked the way these authors wove in gentle messages for younger readers that delved beneath the stop story. “Caterpillars, dinosaurs, Amazonian penguins, a bad case of mistaken identity and magical dolphins; this list has it all.”

The Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction finalists will capture the imagination of every young reader, either immersing them in another world or reality, giving them a problem or mystery to solve or causing a laugh-out-loud response to witty conversations. “We’re pleased to see these books feature an equal mix of strong male and female characters from different races, ethnicities and backgrounds,” say the judges.

The judges enjoyed delving into the world of teenagers via the books entered for the Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction. “We immersed ourselves in the issues that plague young people—family, school pressures, relationship woes, sexuality and the looming adult world. Authors are not afraid to explore dark themes, but also to inject humour when it’s needed.”

The Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction category attracted a variety of entries with topics ranging from bugs to biographies, and history to habitats. The judges note that a clear integration of text, graphics and illustrations meant that all books in this category attained a high quality of overall design.

The judges say the Russell Clark Award for Illustration was a rich category from which to choose the finalists with illustrators working in a range of media including paint, collage, drawing and digital illustration. “The finalists are a strong and diverse group, with a lot of talent and love for craft on display. It was a pleasure to reward such beautiful work.”

This year’s Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori had a record number of entries. Convenor of judges Riki-Lee Saua says, “Each finalist stood out for their inspiring and relevant content, stunning illustrations and excellence in the quality of Māori language.”

The judges selected five books as finalists for the Best First Book Award; this is the first year that Best First Book finalists have been announced. Pam Jones says, “The judges were impressed with the calibre of writing from first-time authors and the increased number of first-published works entered. Noted particularly were the authors who had sought the wisdom and guidance of well-established writers. It’s great to see successful writers pass on their experience to help grow a richer children’s literary scene in New Zealand.”

The finalists for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

Picture Book Award

Fuzzy Doodle, Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ

Gwendolyn! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, HarperCollins Publishers (ABC)

My Grandpa is a Dinosaur, Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones, illustrated by Richard Fairgray, Penguin Random House (Puffin)

That’s Not a Hippopotamus! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Gecko Press

The Singing Dolphin/Te Aihe i Waiata, Mere Whaanga, Scholastic NZ 

Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Helper and Helper, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Gecko Press

My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, Tania Roxborogh, Scholastic NZ

Sunken Forest, Des Hunt, Scholastic NZ

The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)

The Impossible Boy, Leonie Agnew, Penguin Random House (Puffin)

Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction

Coming Home to Roost, Mary-anne Scott, Penguin Random House (Longacre)

Kiwis at War 1916: Dig for victory, David Hair, Scholastic NZ

Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press

Shooting Stars, Brian Falkner, Scholastic NZ

The Severed Land, Maurice Gee, Penguin Random House (Penguin) 

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

From Moa to Dinosaurs: Explore & discover ancient New Zealand, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud, Potton & Burton

Jack and Charlie: Boys of the bush, Josh James Marcotte and Jack Marcotte, Penguin Random House (Puffin)

The Cuckoo and the Warbler, Kennedy Warne, illustrated by Heather Hunt, Potton & Burton

The Genius of Bugs, Simon Pollard, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa Press)

Torty and the Soldier, Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Fifi Colston, Scholastic NZ

Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Fuzzy Doodle, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, written by Melinda Szymanik, Scholastic NZ

Gladys Goes to War, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Glyn Harper, Penguin Random House (Puffin)

If I Was a Banana, illustrated by Kieran Rynhart, written by Alexandra Tylee, Gecko Press

Snark: Being a true history of the expedition that discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock . . . and its tragic aftermath, illustrated and written by David Elliot (after Lewis Carroll), Otago University Press

The Day the Costumes Stuck, illustrated and written by Toby Morris, Beatnik Publishing

Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

Ngā Manu Tukutuku e Whitu o Matariki, Calico McClintock, illustrated by Dominique Ford, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ

Ngārara Huarau, Maxine Hemi, Illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers

Te Haerenga Māia a Riripata i Te Araroa, Maris O’Rourke, illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley, translated by Āni Wainui, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

Te Kaihanga Māpere, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers

Tuna rāua ko Hiriwa, Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, Huia Publishers

Best First Book Award.

Awatea’s Treasure, Fraser Smith, Huia Publishers

Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press

The Discombobulation of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)

The Mouse and the Octopus, written and illustrated by Lisala Halapua, Talanoa Books

Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843, written and illustrated by Matthew H McKinley, Kin Publishing 

Finalist Author Events

Young readers will have a chance to meet the finalist authors in early August, at three big events. The first is in Christchurch (Monday, 7 August in association with WORD Christchurch); then in Dunedin (Friday and Saturday, 11-12 August in association with Dunedin Public Libraries and UBS Otago); and finally in Wellington (Monday, 14 August).

The winners of the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced on the evening of Monday, 14 August in Wellington.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, Copyright Licensing NZ, LIANZA, Wellington City Council and Nielsen Book. The awards are administered for the New Zealand Book Awards Trust by the New Zealand Book Council.




For more information, author photos, high res book covers, etc please contact:      


Adrienne Olsen T + 64 4 496 5513
Adroite Communications, Wellington M + 64 29 286 3650
Media advisors, 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults E