The winners have just been announced for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Find these stories at your local library to see why they have been chosen as the best this year!
The Bomb won the The Margaret Mahy Book of the Year as well as the Picture Book Award. The judges said the books in this category “defied gravity” – being both simple and sophisticated in their message and illustration with serious child appeal but the ability to also delight adults.
The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble, an enthralling eco-drama about a future without grasses, was awarded the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction, marking the second year in a row this category has been won by MacDibble. The judges found the unique voice and characterisation ensured the reader was emotionally invested while debating alternatives to the sometimes-violent measures taken to ensure survival.
Teenagers are very hard to please, said the judges in announcing the Young Adult Fiction Award, but the panel was confident the winner of this category, Legacy by Whiti Hereaka, was a book teens would love. They were unanimous in their appreciation for this novel, with its assured writing, cleverly constructed story and pitch-perfect historical rendering, which teaches much about life as a WWI Māori soldier.
An instantly engaging, slyly educational book peppered with a sense of humour won the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction. Art-tastic by Sarah Pepperle is a rare book that makes art – in this case the iconic works in the Christchurch Art Gallery – accessible and fun for young readers and shows how it can touch all aspects of our lives.
With such high praise from the judges, it’s no surprise Art-tastic also took out the Best First Book Award, a fiercely contested prize in a field of books which all cut straight to the heart of what being a young person is about in very different ways.But the judges couldn’t go past Pepperle’s “out-of-this-world talent” for presenting information – both factual and abstract – in a digestible, hilarious, approachable way, and praised her rare instinct for understanding how children work.
When it’s done well, children’s book illustration is a high form of art combining technique, taste and vision with the ability to tell a story. The judges found the art exceptional in Russell Clark Award for Illustration winner Puffin the Architect by Kimberly Andrews. They cited Andrews as an early-career treasure trove of talent, saying New Zealand children are lucky to have the rest of her career to look forward to.
The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori was awarded to Te Haka a Tānerore by Reina Kahukiwa, illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond. The panel of judges convened by Te Rōpū Whakahau said the book enhanced readers’ understanding of Māori performing arts by telling the origin story of haka. They praised the way its close connection to identity and heritage was illustrated with exceptional artwork.