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Te Puke author named finalist in national book awards

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A Te Puke-born author has been named among the five finalists in the picture book category of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Nikki Slade Robinson's book The Little Kiwi's Matariki was this morning announced as a finalist in the competition.

She is one of 28 finalists selected out of the 154 entries submitted across six categories.

Mrs Slade Robinson, who lives in Opotiki, said she was "stoked" to learn she had been named as a finalist although it had been hard keeping it a secret until the announcement was made.

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The idea for the book had been in her head for about three months, she said.

"It had been floating around for a while and then it all just came together."

"I really wanted to do something around Matariki and I really wanted to work in the native birds because we have so many native birds around here," she said.

Her publisher had given her the green light so when the concept came together in her mind it was straight to work.

She wrote and illustrated the tale over a couple of months.

"It was a lot of burning the midnight oil," Mrs Slade Robinson said.

The book tells the story of a little kiwi who is asleep in its burrow when he is woken by the moon shining in, and "usually the moon doesn't shine in".

Once awakened, the little kiwi runs around waking up his other animal friends from their midwinter slumber and leads them to the beach, just in time to see the constellation of Matariki rise for the first time in the northeastern sky.

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The book, released at Easter, has gone to its third re-print.

The children's picture book was about her ninth published book.

She has illustrated plenty of books for other authors but this was the first time she has been named a finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Mrs Slade Robinson makes her living from writing and illustrating, and yesterday sent off the text and artwork for the next children's book she was hoping to get published.

Fellow Bay author Donovan Bixley's illustrated book Much Ado About Shakespeare has also been named a finalist in the competition.

The Taupo author's title is in the running to win the Russell Clark Illustration Award.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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