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Children’s Book Awards Reveal Major New Talent

By March 2, 2009No Comments

 Emerging authors and illustrators battle it out with our long-time writing heroes in the nation’s most prestigious children’s book awards this year.

Announced today, the finalists in the 2009 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults include names loved by generations of Kiwis including Joy Cowley, Maurice Gee and Jack Lasenby.  Alongside them are some exciting new talent in New Zealand children’s literature, admired by the judges for their humour and creativity.   

 ‘The wide range of themes, places and times represented in this year’s selection are a fantastic snapshot of who we are as Kiwis and as a nation. There are rhyming stories that feature animals; humorous yet thought-provoking contemporary fiction; stories that look forwards as well as backwards, as far back as pre-history; science fiction, fantasy and realism.

‘All these great books offer New Zealand children and young adults a veritable feast of challenging, stimulating and engrossing reading, as well as fresh, new ways of looking at the world,’ says New Zealand Post Book Awards judges’ convenor, Bill Nagelkerke.

The finalists were selected from more than 130 children’s books published in New Zealand in 2008 and submitted for the awards. 

Nagelkerke, a past New Zealand Post finalist and former children’s librarian is joined on the judging panel by children’s editor and career bookseller, Jenni Keestra and children’s literature reviewer and librarian, Rosemary Tisdall.  Together they will decide which author will earn the New Zealand Post Book of the Year prize and will choose winners from across the four categories. Winners will be announced on 20 May.

The finalists in the 2009 New Zealand Post Book Awards are:

Picture Book

Duck’s Stuck! Written by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly (Scholastic New Zealand)

Every Second Friday written by Kiri Lightfoot, illustrated by Ben Galbraith
(Hodder Children’s Books)

Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig written by Diana Neild, illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic New Zealand)

Roadworks written by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Walker Books)

The Were-Nana written by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson (Scholastic New Zealand)


Back & Beyond: New Zealand Painting for the Young & Curious
by Gregory O’Brien (Auckland University Press)

The Crafting of Narnia: The Art, Creatures, and Weapons from Weta Workshop
by Weta Workshop, Paul Tobin and Daniel Falconer (HarperOne)

High-Tech Legs on Everest by Mark Inglis with Sarah Ell
(Random House New Zealand)

Juicy Writing: Inspiration and Techniques for Young Writers by Brigid Lowry (Allen and Unwin)

Piano Rock: A 1950s Childhood by Gavin Bishop (Random House New Zealand)

Junior Fiction

Chicken Feathers by Joy Cowley, illustrated by David Elliot (Puffin)

Enemy at the Gate by Philippa Werry (Scholastic New Zealand)

Five (and a bit) Days in the Life of Ozzie Kingsford written by Val Bird,
illustrated by Rebecca Cundy (Random House New Zealand)

Old Drumble by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollins Publishers)

Payback by Michelle Kelly (Scholastic New Zealand)

Young Adult Fiction

The 10pm Question by Kate de Goldi (Longacre Press)

Chronicles of Stone #1, Scorched Bone by Vincent Ford (Scholastic New Zealand)

Gool by Maurice Gee (Puffin)

Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)

The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner (Walker Books)

In selecting finalists, the judges consider points such as creative writing, use of language, impact, integrity, design and production values.  Additional criteria for the Picture Book category include harmony between text and illustration.  For the Non-fiction category the judges take into account integration of text, graphics, how illustrations were used to engage interest and enhance understanding, plus accuracy of data.

Finalists also compete for the coveted Children’s Choice Award; where kids, not the awards’ judges, get to choose their favourite book. Voting for the Children’s Choice Award begins today.  Long considered one of the highest accolades a children’s author can receive, this award is voted on by children of school age from all over New Zealand.  Voting can be carried out online at or by using the special voting card available from bookshops, libraries or schools. Voting closes at 5.00pm, Friday 1 May.

All winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at Auckland Museum on Wednesday 20 May.

Finalists will be participating in children’s book events around the country as part of a nationwide celebration of the New Zealand Post Book Awards.  The festivities begin on Monday 11 May and continue through to Wednesday 20 May. 

New Zealand Post has been a steadfast sponsor of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults since 1997. Its 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. For those with limited access to new works, New Zealand Post also purchases and distributes books by the New Zealand Post Book Awards finalists in support of the annual Books in Homes programme.

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.

Key dates:

3 March         Children’s Choice Award voting opens

11-20 May     Festival week, finalists on tour nationwide

20 May           Winners announced