03 Apr 2013
A diverse range of themes and styles ‐ but where are the heroines?
An impressive variety of books make up the finalists of this year’s New Zealand Post
Children’s Book Awards. And Chief Judge Bernard Beckett says it suggests we have a group
of New Zealand writers who are confident enough to pursue their own interests.
In all, 19 books have been selected as finalists across four categories: best picture book,
junior fiction, young adult and non‐fiction. The winners from each category will be
announced in June.
War was a dominant theme among this year’s entries ‐ a year before the centenary of the
start of the First World War.
Bernard said: “As judges, we were pleased to see coverage given to conflicts less likely to be
known to young readers such as The Boer War or the conflict in Malaysia. Prominence was
also given to the bravery of those who resisted armed conflict, both in World War One and
at Parihaka – that strikes us as tremendously important.”
The finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries read by the panel of three judges ‐
children’s literature expert and author Eirlys Hunter, presenter of Radio New Zealand’s Arts
on Sunday programme, Lynn Freeman and author Bernard Beckett.
The judges said it was a privilege to read and assess New Zealand’s best books for children
and young adults in 2012.
However, the judges raised concerns over the many entries that had great potential but
didn’t meet the standard required to become a finalist.
“A large number of books were crying out for a more considered editing or design process:
books with clear potential that needed only another careful draft; delightful children’s
stories let down by the illustrations or design layout. To see such possibilities unrealised was a clear frustration for us.”
“We were also surprised to see how few strong female characters there were in these
pages. Young girls are in danger of seeing themselves once again as serving only decorative
roles in stories, and we hope this is more a blip than the beginning of a retrograde trend.”
School‐aged children and young adults can now vote for their favourite books from among
the finalists for the coveted Children’s Choice Award.
A Great Cake by Tina Matthews
Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly
Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop
Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum by Terri Rose Baynton
Remember That November / Maumahara ki tērā Nōema by Jennifer Beck, Lindy Fisher &
The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi & Gregory O’Brien
The Queen and the Nobody Boy (A Tale of Fontania) by Barbara Else
My Brother's War by David Hill
Red Rocks by Rachael King
Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby
Young Adult Fiction
Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran
Into the River by Ted Dawe
The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager
Reach by Hugh Brown
Snakes and Ladders by Mary‐anne Scott
100 Amazing Tales From Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere
Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian & Heather Hunt
Taketakerau, The Millennium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt & Kelly Spencer
At the Beach: Explore & discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud & Gillian
Note: Four finalists were selected in the non‐fiction category, compared to five in the other
categories. The judges felt the books selected represented the best on offer, and all were
significantly better than the next tier of titles considered.
For more information on the New Zealand Post Book Awards contact:
(04) 499 8985
Or visit: www.nzpostbookawards.co.nz
The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand
and sponsored by New Zealand Post. The awards are also supported by Creative New
Zealand and Booksellers Tokens New Zealand.
Children’s Choice voting begins – 3 April 2013
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Festival – 17 – 24 June 2013
Winners announced – 24 June 2013