A teen novel that follows a boy's journey from his small rural East Coast home to an elite Auckland school has picked up the top prize at this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

Ted Dawe's book Into the River won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and was also the winner of the Young Adult Fiction category.

The winners were announced at the Addington Events Centre in Christchurch tonight.

"Into the River was the book that stood out for us," chief judge and author Bernard Beckett said.


"Traditionally, books aimed at the top end of the young adult market [ages 15+] have not been a strength of ours here in New Zealand, with most books aimed nearer the junior fiction boundary.

"We were delighted to see a book that both engaged and respected older readers, with material as subtle as it is honest and provocative," Mr Beckett said.

It was great to see new talent emerging to line up alongside more established authors and illustrators, he said.

As the winner of both the Young Adult Fiction category and the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award, Mr Dawe received $15,000 in cash prizes.

New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards winners for 2013:

• Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year: Ted Dawe, Into the River (Mangakino University Press);

• Best Non-Fiction: Simon Morton & Riria Hotere, 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa (Te Papa Press);

• Best Junior Fiction: David Hill, My Brother's War (Penguin Group NZ);


• Honour award, Junior Fiction: Barbara Else, The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series (Gecko Press);

• Best Picture Book: Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop, Mister Whistler (Gecko Press);

• Best First Book: Hugh Brown, Reach (HarperCollins); and

• Children's Choice: Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O'Reilly, Melu (Scholastic NZ)