The winners of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults was announced in August. As usual the standard is very high with local stories being prominent, the judges noting on several occasions how authors are reflecting our modern society with characters representing our mixed cultures more honestly.
Margaret Mahy Book of the Year
Snark: Being a true history ...
Illustrator: David Elliot
This year's Margaret Mahy Book of the Year winner combines rich imagery with compelling storytelling that will draw readers into the world of Lewis Carroll's poetry as never before.
David Elliot's clear wit pervades his sketches and his draughtsmanship is outstanding, however the cohesive way he has combined all the elements of this book was what won the judges over.
Picture Book Award
That's Not a Hippopotamus!
Author: Juliette MacIver
Illustrator: Sarah Davis
From beginning to end, this rambunctious picture book does not miss a beat. A class of young children goes to a safari park that claims to have all of the animals in the world: but where has that hippopotamus gone?
The illustrations are complex and clever, but what made this book really stand out for judges were the diverse cultures depicted in the illustrations
My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point
Author: Tania Roxborogh
The voice of a diary, especially when that of a child, can be a potent device. Written as fiction, it requires a deft and sensitive touch. Tania Roxborogh applies that touch in this book.
1970s race relations in Aotearoa are revealed to the reader through the eyes and heart of a young Maori girl worried about her pony, and wondering what is wrong with the grown-up world around her.
Young Adult Fiction
The Severed Land
Author: Maurice Gee
From the start, the judges knew they were in good hands, as Maurice Gee's elegant writing carries us along on an epic and archetypal adventure of warring families, colonialism, mysterious strangers, and making allies out of enemies.
It's a short novel for a fantasy, and not a word is wasted in this taut, thrilling, often brutal and morally complex tale.
Jack and Charlie: Boys of the Bush
Author: Jack Marcotte & Josh James Marcotte
Jack and Charlie: Boys of the Bush is as an astute and original exploration of children's interactions with the environment. It provides vivid insights, from a child's perspective, into the daily rhythms of life on the remote West Coast of the South Island.
This book is a fine example of a non-fiction text that has cohesion, charm, and a capacity to captivate both children and older reader.
Te Reo Maori
Te Kaihanga Mapere
Author: Sacha Cotter, translated
by Kawata Teepa
Illustrator: Josh Morgan
Drawing readers in with its vibrant cover, Te Kaihanga Māpere invites us into the mind of a young, inquisitive and trendy kōtiro set on inventing her first marble.
Above other entries, Te Kura Pounamu judges felt this book stood out not only for the excellent quality of Māori language translations, but also for an inspiring storyline, which celebrates a favourite Kiwi pastime and encourages young readers to follow their dreams and persevere in all they do.
Best First Book
The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain
Author: Julie Lamb
Twelve year old Summer Rain's life is complicated: she lives during the week with her kooky, tight-fisted granddad, and spends weekends with her well-meaning, ineffectual dad.
Julie Lamb has given us a distinctly Kiwi take on the adolescent travails of a young girl growing up in a somewhat eccentric small town.