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“Landmark title” takes top honours in New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

By August 9, 2018No Comments

“A landmark title which will stand the test of time” has been crowned the country’s best book for young readers. Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Christchurch writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop received the top honour at the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, announced tonight at an exuberant event at Te Papa in Wellington.

The judges describe it as a book for every home, school and library, which can be read and re-read by all ages.

“It’s masterful in its execution – a work of art that bears repeated and thoughtful reading and viewing of its vibrant and informative illustrations, a book of enduring significance in the canon of New Zealand children’s literature. We’ve seen nothing quite like it in New Zealand children’s publishing,” says convener of judges Jeannie Skinner.

As well as winning the coveted Margaret Mahy Book of the Year prize, Aotearoa also won the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction. The judges described this category as particularly strong and the most challenging to whittle down to a shortlist of finalists.

Six other significant awards were also presented at the ceremony, held in Te Papa’s atmospheric Te Marae and attended by the country’s top children’s authors, illustrators, translators and publishers.

A book for all the unsung small heroes, I Am Jellyfish, written and illustrated by Ruth Paul, won the Picture Book Award. A humour-filled tale of small but mighty, its attention to detail impressed the judges.

In a surprising twist, the winner of both the junior and young adult fiction awards were one and the same person. Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee won the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction. The book describes a dystopian future without bees, where children perform the essential task of pollination. The judges said it was a tale to fire young readers with awareness and courage for the future.

MacDibble also claimed the Copyright Licensing Award for Young Adult Fiction with In the Dark Spaces, written under the pseudonym Cally Black. This high-concept science fiction novel was cited as “an impressive tale of world class calibre”.

A graphic novel was judged the most worthy winner of the Russell Clark Award for Illustration. Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts, written and illustrated by Craig Phillips, brings 10 fantastical stories from mythology and fairy tales to life in superb graphic style, providing “a freshness to the familiar, and delight to the previously unknown” with masterful execution.

The judges noted the strong showing of the Best First Book Award finalists this year and commended the debut authors and their publishers for tackling challenging but important issues for teen readers. The winner was My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith, which although historical in setting, has a message the judges felt to be hugely relevant in today’s geopolitical climate with its debates about immigration.

The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori was awarded to Tu Meke Tūī! by Malcolm Clarke, translated by Evelyn Tobin and illustrated by FLOX (aka Hayley King). The panel of judges convened by Te Rōpū Whakahau particularly praised the expertise of translator Evelyn Tobin, who they said captured the breath and spirit of the story skilfully, locating it within a Māori viewpoint.

An integral part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is the HELL Reading Challenge, which is reaching record new heights in its fifth year. The programme encourages children to read all the finalists’ titles through their schools or local library and rewards them with free pizza. So far this year, more than 260,000 pizza reading wheels have been distributed to over 600 schools and 194 libraries.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are a unique celebration of the contribution that New Zealand’s children’s authors and illustrators make to building national identity and cultural heritage. The awards are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, the Wright Family Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, Copyright Licensing NZ, LIANZA, Wellington City Council, Nielsen Book and Te Papa. They are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

The full list of winners for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is:

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award $7,500

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop of Christchurch (Penguin Random House) 

Picture Book Award $7,500

I Am Jellyfish, Written and illustrated by Ruth Paul, Wellington (Penguin Random House)

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction $7500

How to Bee, by Bren MacDibble, Australia (Allen & Unwin)

Copyright Licencing Award for Young Adult Fiction $7500

In the Dark Spaces, by Cally Black, Australia (Hardie Grant Egmont)

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction $7500

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Christchurch (Penguin Random House)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration $7500

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts Written and illustrated by Craig Phillips, Taupo (Allen & Unwin)

Best First Book Award $2000

My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith, Invercargill (Scholastic New Zealand)

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori $7500

Tu Meke Tūī!, by Malcolm Clarke, translated Evelyn Tobin, illustrated by FLOX (aka Hayley King), all of Auckland (Mary Egan Publishing)




Photo of Gavin Bishop attached. High res version available for download here.

Photo supplied by NZ Book Awards Trust.

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Notes for Editors:

The judges of the 2018 awards are:  Jeannie Skinner (convenor) a facilitator at the National Library of New Zealand; Crissi Blair, a long-time promoter and champion of children’s books; Maureen Crisp, writer and blogger; Darryn Joseph, an academic and author; and Bridget Schaumann, a school librarian.

They were joined by a panel appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau to judge the te reo Māori entries, which was led by Moana Munro (convenor), kaitiakipukapuka Māori for the Hastings District Libraries, Anahera Morehu, library manager for the Faculty of Arts, Māori and Pasifika Team of Te Tumu Herenga at the University of Auckland, and Jacqueline Joyce Snee, senior librarian Māori Research at Auckland Central Library.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are a unique celebration of the contribution New Zealand’s children’s authors and illustrators make to building national identity and cultural heritage. Awards are made in seven categories: Young Adult Fiction (the Copyright Licensing NZ Award), Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Non-Fiction (the Elsie Locke Award), Picture Book, Illustration (the Russell Clark Award), Te Reo Māori (the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award) and the Best First Book Award. The main category awards carry prize money of $7,500 and the Best First Book winner receives $2,000. The overall prize, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, carries a further prize of $7,500.

The awards are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity). Its trustees are Nicola Legat, Karen Ferns, Paula Morris, Catherine Robertson, Rachel Eadie, David Bowles, Pene Walsh and Melanee Winder. The Trust also governs the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.

The Wright Family Foundation is a not-for-profit registered charitable trust dedicated to making a positive difference by advancing education and spreading knowledge, supporting individuals to achieve their full potential. Its goal is to “grow the good” in New Zealand. Supporting literacy and a passion for words and reading is a key focus of the foundation. Its CEO, Chloe Wright, is Patron of both the Kids’ Lit Quiz and the New Zealand Spelling Bee. By supporting the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the foundation hopes to champion New Zealand writers who will inspire the imagination of children.

As the national museum of New Zealand, Te Papa houses many of the nation’s taonga (treasures) reflecting New Zealand’s society and culture through the ages. Renowned for the unique way in which it tell these stories, Te Papa has welcomed more than 30 million visitors since it opened 20 years ago. The museum also connects with people outside the museum through its touring exhibitions, collections online, learning programmes and award-winning books produced by Te Papa Press.

Creative New Zealand has been a sustaining partner of New Zealand’s book awards for decades. Creative New Zealand encourages, promotes and supports the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders through funding, capability building, an international programme, and advocacy. It offers financial support for emerging and established artists, art practitioners, groups and organisations, and provides training and online resources to help artists and practitioners develop professionally, grow audiences and markets, and manage their organisations. It also supports internships and national touring to help develop New Zealand arts. Creative New Zealand provides a wide range of support to New Zealand literature, including funding for writers and publishers, residencies, literary festivals and awards, and support of organisations which work to increase the readership and sales of New Zealand literature at home and internationally.

HELL Pizza was established in 1996 and now has 73 stores throughout New Zealand. HELL has reinforced its commitment to getting more kids hooked on books by sponsoring the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The HELL Reading Challenge, initiated in 2014, continues to grow rapidly. The programme rewards students with a free ‘333 HELLthy pizza’ once they have read seven books and had their achievement approved by a local librarian with a stamp in each segment of their HELL pizza wheel. In 2017, 562 schools and 180 public libraries around New Zealand took part, and 250,000 pizza wheels were distributed, which means that some 1.75 million books were read by Kiwi kids as a result.

Copyright Licensing Limited (CLNZ) sells licences that make copying, scanning and sharing printed works easy and legal for education providers, businesses and government departments on behalf of publishers and authors. It also advocates and lobbies in the interests of authors and publishers, pays them when their work is copied and takes action on their behalf if their rights are infringed.

LIANZA – the association for library and information professionals in New Zealand – introduced the first award for children’s fiction in New Zealand, establishing the Esther Glen in 1945. Awards added over the years included the Russell Clark (the only award specifically for illustrations in children’s books) and Te Kura Pounamu (celebrating Te Reo and introduced in partnership with Te Rōpū Whakahau). In 2015 LIANZA and the New Zealand Book Awards Trust merged the two awards, maintaining the long legacy of the LIANZA Awards.

Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd is the company that underwrites the sale of book tokens within New Zealand. It is administered by Booksellers New Zealand. Its tokens are fully guaranteed from financial risk.

Nielsen Book is the leading provider of book-related data services to more than 100 countries worldwide. Nielsen collects book information from over 70 countries (including the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa) and works closely with the leading data providers in the US to ensure it has the most consistent and comprehensive global database of title records available.

Wellington City Council‘s arts policy positions the city as a place where both Wellingtonians and visitors are able to actively explore our culture and experiment with their own creativity. It values heritage arts, culture and traditions and focuses on new ways of expressing what is happening now and experiences that result from collaboration, both within the professional arts sector and with communities. The Council believes in the importance of literacy and imagination in the development of New Zealand children, and it supports a wide range of arts for and by children.