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Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop (Puffin) $40
This book stood out for the judges as one which is innovative in its concept and format – they’d seen nothing quite like it before in New Zealand children’s publishing. It is masterful in its execution – a work of art that bears repeated and thoughtful viewing and reading of its vibrant and informative illustrations. It is also a book of enduring significance in the canon of New Zealand children’s literature – a landmark title which will stand the test of time. This is a story of nation and of family, illustrating our unique place in the world, and showing us the landscapes, event, and personalities that have built our culture and identity. It is a book for all ages, a bountiful celebration of Aotearoa, and a most worthy Supreme Winner.
PICTURE BOOK AWARD
I Am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul (Puffin) $20
The text and illustration perfectly complement each other in this humour-filled tale of small but mighty. The layout of each page has been carefully thought out, through clever page orientation drawing the reader in and down into the perilous deep, where our luminous hero shines brightly. The colour palette and attention to detail invite the reader to linger over the pages and to reflect the emotions of the main characters as they descend into peril and the strong pink arms of the giant squid. When the unlikely hero, Jellyfish, saves and admonishes Swordfish, it’s a delightful and satisfying rescue. This is a book for all the unsung small heroes and it will be giggled over and read again and again.
WRIGHT FAMILY FAMILY TRUST ESTHER GLEN AWARD FOR JUNIOR FICTION
How to Bee by Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin) $19
In these days of climate change and worry about the future, Bren MacDibble brings us the dystopian vision of a future without bees; instead, agile children perform the bees’ tasks. The feisty heroine, 10-year-old Peony, has a passion for her family and the importance of her life in the country. The author has crafted a story of contrasts – city and country, rich and poor, kindness and cruelty. Flawed but genuine characters exist in a troubled world where violence is an everyday occurrence – yet still there is hope, seen through Peony’s eyes as she fiercely fights for her family and the life she loves. This is a tale to fire young readers with awareness and with courage for the future.
COPYRIGHT LICENSING N.Z. AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT FICTION
In the Dark Spaces by Cally Black (Hardie Grant) $23
In the Dark Spaces is a high concept science fiction novel which hums with character and bravery, a strong sense of family, and aliens – big feathery aliens, who communicate in whistles. The author cleverly constructs a world which is engrossing, tense and irresistible; her skill at drawing the reader into an unfamiliar world is extraordinary. This book has so much to offer a young adult audience, and the sheer brilliance of its construction and the imagined world within its pages is stunning. Readers of any age will find a story that they can relate to, and also an impressive tale of world-class calibre. Such thrilling writing is indeed deserving of the highest award in its category.
ELSIE LOCKE AWARD FOR NON-FICTION
Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop (Puffin) $40
Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story is a wonderfully bold and abundant book, large in format and in scope. It takes us from Aotearoa’s pre-history to the modern day with stories of the people, places and events that have shaped us. The illustrations are dramatic and detailed, full of colour and pattern, with mātauranga Māori integrated throughout. They are complemented by minimal text, providing snippets of information which provide context and inspiration for readers to find out more. The large format gives generous scope for innovative and varied page design, leading us through a wealth of facts, ideas and details which inform, intrigue and entertain. This is a book for every home, school and library, a book for reading, re-reading and sharing with all ages.
RUSSELL CLARK AWARD FOR ILLUSTRATION
Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten tales from the deep, dark woods by Craig Phillips (Allen & Unwin) $28
Craig Phillips has brought ten fantastical stories, drawn from mythology and fairy tales from around the globe, to life. They are made new in Phillips’ superb graphic stylings – each tale has its own individual and perfectly appropriate drawing style and colour palette. The skilful diversity of frame and layout, stroke and point of view, bring a freshness to the familiar, and delight to the previously unknown. The comic format is executed masterfully in this excellent publication and will be cherished by young and old.
WRIGHT FAMILY FOUNDATION TE KURA POUNAMU AWARD FOR TE REO MĀORI
Tu Meke Tūī! by Malcolm Clarke, FLOX (Hayley King) and Evelyn Tobin (Mary Egan) $20
Me whakanui ka tika i te tohungatanga o te kaiwhakamāori, ā kupu, ā hā nei kia tino rongo i te wāirua, i tiro ā-Māori ki tōna ake ao. Ko te kīwaha Tu meke Tūī!, tētehi te tū ohorere, tērā atu he whakamiha mō tētehi mahi i whakamiharo. Tu Meke Tūī! showcases the expertise of translator Evelyn Tobin, who skilfully captures the breath and spirit of this story by Malcolm Clarke, locating it within a Māori viewpoint. With exquisite illustrations by FLOX, this is a feel-good story that encourages its young readers to appreciate each other’s differences and to see that helping out in times of trouble can end up better than expected.
BEST FIRST BOOK AWARD
Dawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (Scholastic) $18
Dawn Raid is a vividly drawn snapshot of the 1970s, packed full of laugh-out-loud Pasifika humour. From the quest to find white go-go boots that fit to life on the milk run and avoiding boiled cabbage, Sofia navigates life with style. Issues of Pasifika identity and activism run throughout this book but are lightly woven into the story. Sofia’s growing political awareness of the dawn raids and their injustice and impact are sensitively told. This is a great story, and hugely relevant in our current geo-political climate. It will help children understand how political decisions about immigration that appear to only affect one group of people can have far-reaching implications for all our society.