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New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards – finalists announced

By April 4, 2013No Comments

Media Release
3 April 2013


A diverse range of themes and styles  but where are the heroines?

An impressive variety of books make up the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  And Chief Judge Bernard Beckett says it suggests we have a group of New Zealand writers who are confident enough to pursue their own interests.

In all, 19 books have been selected as finalists across four categories: best picture book, junior fiction, young adult and non-fiction. The winners from each category will be announced in June. 

War was a dominant theme among this year’s entries – a year before the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Bernard said: “As judges, we were pleased to see coverage given to conflicts less likely to be known to young readers such as The Boer War or the conflict in Malaysia. Prominence was also given to the bravery of those who resisted armed conflict, both in World War One and at Parihaka – that strikes us as tremendously important.”

The finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries read by the panel of three judges: children’s literature expert and author Eirlys Hunter, presenter of Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday programme, Lynn Freeman and author Bernard Beckett.  

The judges said it was a privilege to read and assess New Zealand’s best books for children and young adults in 2012.

However, the judges raised concerns over the many entries that had great potential but didn’t meet the standard required to become a finalist.

“A large number of books were crying out for a more considered editing or design process: books with clear potential that needed only another careful draft; delightful children’s stories let down by the illustrations or design layout. To see such possibilities unrealised was a clear frustration for us.”

“We were also surprised to see how few strong female characters there were in these pages. Young girls are in danger of seeing themselves once again as serving only decorative roles in stories, and we hope this is more a blip than the beginning of a retrograde trend.”

School-aged children and young adults can now vote for their favourite books from among the finalists for the coveted Children’s Choice Award.




Picture Book 

A Great Cake by Tina Matthews

Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly

Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop

Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum by Terri Rose Baynton

Remember That November / Maumahara ki tērā Nōema by Jennifer Beck, Lindy Fisher & Kawata Teepa

Junior Fiction

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi & Gregory O’Brien

The Queen and the Nobody Boy (A Tale of Fontania) by Barbara Else

My Brother's War by David Hill

Red Rocks by Rachael King

Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby

Young Adult Fiction 

Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran

Into the River by Ted Dawe

The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager

Reach by Hugh Brown

Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott


100 Amazing Tales From Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere

Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian & Heather Hunt

Taketakerau, The Millennium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt & Kelly Spencer

At the Beach: Explore & discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler

Note: Four finalists were selected in the non-fiction category, compared to five in the other categories. The judges felt the books selected represented the best on offer, and all were significantly better than the next tier of titles considered.

For more information on the New Zealand Post Book Awards contact: 

Jillian Keogh
(04) 499 8985

Background information

The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and sponsored by New Zealand Post. The awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Booksellers Tokens New Zealand.

Important dates

Children’s Choice voting begins – 3 April 2013
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Festival – 17 – 24 June 2013
Winners announced – 24 June 2013
Amie Lightbourne
Awards Manager
Booksellers New Zealand
Level 13, Grand Arcade, 16 – 20 Willis St, Wellington
PO Box 25033, Panama Street, Wellington 6146
DDI 04 815 8363  Fax 04 472  1912 Mobile 021 173 6667