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New Zealand Children’s Book Awards 2018

June 14, 2018

Five finalists are selected for each category, and from these a category winner is selected. All awards carry prize money of $7,500. In addition, the judges will award a best first book prize of $2,000 to a previously unpublished author or illustrator. The overall prize, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award, carries a prize of $7,500. Winners are announced in August.  For more information about the titles, and the Young Adult / Te Reo / Best First Book Awards,  you can check this website

Tararua District Library’s  annual quiz for children Year 7/8 will be based on the  finalists below. The quiz will be held 8 August 2018, and details and entry forms will be sent out to all schools at the beginning of Term 3.  In our quiz, questions are based on finalist books in the Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Junior Nonfiction, and Illustration categories. Only the first 10 physical pages of non-fiction books will be quizzed also (e.g. title page onwards). Young Adult and Te Reo titles are not included. 


Picture Book Award finalists:

Granny McFlitter the Champion Knitter

Written by Heather Haylock and illustrated by Lael Chisholm

Granny bursts upon the scene, to the dismay of her family, which is fed-up with knitting. The rhyme dances and urges the reader along, through twists and turns flying as fast as Granny’s knitting needles. Lael Chisholm’s beautiful swirls and colour choices for the illustrations perfectly complement the bouncing rhyme and warm character of Granny McFlitter.


I am Jellyfish

Written and illustrated by Ruth Paul

Delicious jokes and humour drift through this book, beautifully matching evocative and playful illustrations. With deft rhythm the text gently educates and informs the reader about the secret life of jellyfish while entertaining with laugh-out-loud moments. Colours, style and page production all come together to create a perfect story about the perils and triumphs of an unlikely sea hero.

That’s Not the Monster We Ordered

Written by Richard Fairgray, Terry Jones and illustrated by Richard Fairgray

Neighbour rivalry and one-upmanship get a gentle poke in this fun tale about pet monsters. Turning advertising and reviews on their heads with sly humour and clever illustrations, the story has you laughing with every page. The story and illustrations perfectly complement each other, and the attention to detail rewards with something new to notice every time the book is picked up.


The Gift Horse

Written by Sophie Siers and illustrated by Katharine White

A gentle story about a sad little girl and the horse she bonds with, which will sit with the reader long after it is finished. Sensitive pastel illustrations work well with the text, setting the emotional tone, and reflecting the themes of patience and grief. Layered with meaning, the story deals with complex emotions in a thoughtful way, giving readers a sense of hope that life will get better.


The Longest Breakfast

Written by Jenny Bornholdt and illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Waffles, cake, doughnuts and pudding are offered up in this captivating poem about breakfast. Every family will instantly recognise the perils of breakfast communication with a toddler. Playful illustrations in a warm colour palette make your mouth water as you turn the pages, trying to find out just what ‘toot’ and ‘buzz’ might mean. An engaging book with a light-hearted and amusing text.


Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction finalists:

How Not to Stop a Kidnap Plot

Written by Suzanne Main

When Michael overhears some men plotting to kidnap a student at his school, he and Elvis decide they must prevent the crime, even if it is his sworn enemy Angus who is the victim. A series of misadventures and wild assumptions see them zipping across town by bike, staking out the school painters and breaking a few rules. This fast-paced romp will keep the reader wondering until the very end.


How to Bee

Written by Bren MacDibble

Peony lives with Gramps and her sister Mags on the Boss’s orchard where she longs to be promoted to ‘bee’. But then Ma tries to take the unwilling Peony to work in the city. Peony is feisty and fiercely loyal, torn between her mother and the rest of the family, and her love for country life. This delicately balanced dystopian tale takes us to a future without bees, where children perform the essential task of pollination.


Lyla: Through My Eyes – Natural Disaster Zones

Written by Fleur Beale and edited by Lyn White

A dramatic teen-view of the Christchurch earthquakes. Lyla is at the mall when the big quake strikes. Having lost touch with her friends and family, she finds her way home through a crumpled city. The long days and weeks that follow bring new challenges, and Lyla works with others to help with the clean-up and opening their home to those in need. A vivid insight into terrifying events and the impact on those who experienced them.


My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid

Written by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith

The lively 1976 diary of 13-year-old Sofia. A shadow is cast when her brother gets involved with protests over the unjust treatment of Pacific Island overstayers. Then, on a trip to Auckland, the whole family is caught up in a terrifying police dawn raid. This becomes rich and emotional subject matter for Sofia’s entry in a dramatic speech competition. A warm, well-told story about a dark era in our history.


The Thunderbolt Pony

Written by Stacy Gregg

When the small town of Parnassus is hit by the destructive Kaikōura earthquake, everyone must be evacuated. Evie’s injured mother is helicoptered out, but Evie refuses to leave her horse, cat and dog behind, and heads off with them on an intrepid journey across rugged terrain, torn apart by the quake. As she travels, Evie relives the recent death of her father, and deals with her OCD issues. A tale where bravery and resilience trump fear and injury.


Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction finalists:

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story

Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop

This wonderfully bold and abundant book, large in format and scope, takes us from Aotearoa’s prehistory to the modern day with stories of the people, places and events that have shaped us. The dramatic and detailed illustrations, with taha Māori integrated throughout, are complemented by minimal text providing context and inspiration to find out more. A book for every home, school and library.


Explore! Aotearoa

Written by Bronwen Wall and illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

An engaging, informative and richly illustrated book that shares the thrilling true stories of resolute and dauntless men and women, whose sense of adventure and intrepid spirit led them to explore New Zealand’s uncharted territory — crossing oceans, climbing mountains, and going deep beneath the earth or waves. The effective blend of text, photos and illustration inspires and informs, inviting readers to become explorers themselves.


New Zealand’s Great White Sharks

Written by Alison Ballance

From the cold waters of Stewart Island to the warm tropics of the Pacific, New Zealand’s great white sharks are tracked by scientists seeking answers about these magnificent ocean predators. In this book, vivid descriptions and plentiful photographs capture the excitement, demands and rewards of tagging and tracking great white sharks. They demonstrate how a career in science can lead to all sorts of adventures, and how sharks and the marine environment deserve our respect and protection.


Sky High: Jean Batten’s Incredible Flying Adventures

Written by David Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris

The true story of pioneer aviator Jean Batten, who made several record-breaking journeys across oceans and continents in her tiny plane. Exquisitely illustrated and beautifully written, with clear, informative and dramatic text, graphic simplicity, a subtle colour palette and elegant design, this biography provides a fitting tribute to Jean Batten’s passion, flying skill, enormous bravery and indomitable spirit.


The New Zealand Wars

Written by Philippa Werry

The New Zealand wars — their causes, events, locations and protagonists — are described in an accessible and absorbing narrative, with handsome illustrations and excellent referencing. This important book explores how these wars have since been viewed through the decades, portrayed in the arts, and how we are now gradually working towards a new understanding and place of reconciliation.


Russell Clark Award for Illustration finalists:

Abel Tasman: Mapping the Southern Lands

Illustrated by Marco Ivančić

The story of 17th century Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, one of the first Europeans to come to Australia and New Zealand, is brought to life in meticulous, hyper-realistic digital paintings, which capture the tenacity and determination of this adventurer, and the complexities of the ship and the wild oceans that Tasman and his crew faced on their journeys. Finely detailed maps are the perfect touch as endpapers.


Bobby, the Littlest War Hero

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Bobby the canary, whose ability to detect dangerous gases saved the World War One tunnellers he accompanied, is the bright spot in accomplished illustrations that use a natural palette of khaki, sandy yellows and grimy browns. The warmth of the relationships and the personality of each soldier is captured, gritty textured paint replicates the dirt of tunnel walls and the rubble of the broken town, and a clever use of layout adds drama to the tunnel scenes.


Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts

Illustrated and written by Craig Phillips

Myths and legends from around the world featuring witches, dragons and mythical creatures are brought to splendid life in a range of comic formats. Each tale has its own distinct style and colour palette. A skilful use of different viewpoints and a range of frames and layouts make for lively reading and bring freshness and vitality to the familiar and lesser known tales, providing a rich visual storytelling experience.

I am Jellyfish

Illustrated and written by Ruth Paul

Jellyfish is a thoroughly original hero, a fragile but tenacious aquatic creature, who wafts and swirls through the ocean currents, encountering a diverse cast of characters, from the steely swordfish and unusual luminous fish to a splendidly pink giant squid. The pages are cleverly designed, changing orientation as we dive into the inky darkness of the watery depths, and young readers will love the glow-in-the-dark cover highlights.


Sky High: Jean Batten’s Incredible Flying Adventures

Illustrated by Phoebe Morris

Clean lines and flat colour are used to capture the dramatic adventures of the trail-blazing New Zealand pilot, Jean Batten. Much is revealed with minimal detail: a few lines transform a face from happy to mournful, young to old. A diversity of page layouts, from the dramatic blue-grey opening double-page spread to vignettes in white space, provide momentum and spotlight significant moments in time.

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