From rampaging dinosaurs and Maori myths and legends to Shakespeare and gritty social issues, our best writers for children and young adults tell stories about them all.

The 28 finalists in this year's NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are announced today and judges say they were spoilt for choice because of the subject matter and quality of our books.

"Haunted houses, war stories, gritty social issues and some amazingly imaginative works were all part of the mix," says convenor of judges Fiona Mackie. "It was very challenging for us all to choose."

The finalists are a who's who of children's and young adult's publishing, including some of our best-known children's authors and illustrators: Fleur Beale, Bernard Beckett, Kate De Goldi, Stacey Gregg, Maria Gill, Bob Kerr, Gregory O'Brien, Kyle Mewburn, NZ Herald book reviewer David Hill, Donovan Bixley and veteran writer Patricia Grace.


Grace's book Haka is a finalist in the picture book and the Te Kura Pounamu categories.

Other multi-category nominees are Bob Kerr's Changing Times: the story of a New Zealand Town and its Newspaper for the Elsie Locke Award for non-fiction and the Russell Clark Award, while Finding Monkey Moon, by Elizabeth Pulford and Kate Wilkinson, and Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Davis' The House on the Hill are named as picture book and Russell Clark finalists.

Star multi-sportsman Steve Gurney's The Beginner's Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand gets a non-fiction nod.

A second competition runs alongside the awards. Books in the Children's Choice Awards, sponsored by pizza chain Hell, have been nominated by young readers who can, from 7am today, see the finalists and vote for the winners in five categories at

A finalist authors' tour for the children's and young adults' awards runs nationwide in August. The winners are announced on August 8.