Skip to main content
News Archive

Doyenne of Children’s Writing Wins Top Award

By May 22, 2008No Comments

Joy Cowley has won the New Zealand Post Book of the Year prize for her novel, Snake and Lizard. The delightful tale of give-and-take friendship was illustrated by internationally renowned Christchurch illustrator, Gavin Bishop.New Zealand Post Book Awards 2008 judges’ convenor, Dylan Owen says Snake And Lizard brings together the best of New Zealand writing and illustration that deserves a readership beyond its intended audience.

‘Cowley’s book impressed the judges with its assured writing, humour and gentle, unforced observations on the nature of friendship. Both witty and wise these timeless stories are an utter joy. They make you laugh, sigh and read all over again.’

The judging panel comprising Mr Owen, who is national advisor for the National Library’s schools collection, writer and illustrator, Fifi Colston and award-winning novelist, Vince Ford also noted that complementing the writing were the book’s superb production values.

The award was presented to Joy Cowley’s husband, Terry Coles in Mrs Cowley’s absence, and Gavin Bishop at the Wellington Town Hall today by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark. Joy Cowley was unable to attend the awards because of a long-standing engagement to present writing workshops for the Ministry of Education in Singapore.She said in a speech read by her husband that she remembered a time when writing for children was considered to be the occupation of people who had failed at adult writing.

‘The New Zealand Post Book Awards… have given children’s literature in this country rightful status. Clearly this is good for the authors of children’s books; but I believe that the greater benefit goes to the children of Aotearoa. The award validates them as readers who have their own authority and who are deserving of standards of excellence. From this compulsory distance I send my sincere thanks, New Zealand Post, on the behalf of our beautiful tamariki.’

The category winners and honour awards recipients in the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2008 are:

Picture Book
Tahi – One Lucky Kiwi by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Ali Teo & John O’Reilly (Random House New Zealand)   

Honour AwardTo The Harbour written and illustrated by Stanley Palmer (Lopdell House Gallery)

Non Fiction
Which New Zealand Spider? By Andrew Crowe. (Penguin New Zealand)

Honour Award: Reaching The Summit by Alexa Johnston with David Larsen (Penguin New Zealand)

Junior Fiction and New Zealand Post Book of the Year
Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop. (Gecko Press)

Young Adult
Salt by Maurice Gee. (Penguin New Zealand)

Honour Award: The Sea-Wreck Stranger by Anna Mackenzie (Longacre Press)

Best First Book Award
Out of The Egg written and illustrated by Tina Matthews. (Walker Books)

Children’s Choice Award

The King’s Bubbles by Ruth Paul (Scholastic)

The winner of each category was awarded with $7,500.  The winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award takes home an extra $7,500.  The winner of the Best First Book and the Children’s Choice Award receive prize money of $2,000 each.  The honour awards were presented in three categories this year.  These awards are discretionary and are awarded in recognition of particular features in each book.  For the first time this year, all honour award recipients received a monetary award of $500.

BPANZ congratulates all the publishers listed for their winning titles and especially Julia Marshall of Gecko Press, publisher of Snake and Lizard.