One of the things I love the most about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is that it always introduces me to New Zealand books that I hadn’t heard of. One of the gems that I’ve discovered from the shortlist is M.H. McKinley’s brilliant graphic novel, Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843.
Wairau, 1843 is the first in the Wars in the Whitecloud graphic novel series that vividly brings to life important events in the early interactions between Maori and Pakeha. This first book portrays the ill-fated meeting between early settlers and the Ngati-Toa tribe at Wairau in 1843. It was a short but violent and bloody conflict and the author hasn’t shied away from portraying this. M.H. McKinley stays true to these historic events while bringing to life both Maori and Pakeha figures who played a part in the conflict. There are also extensive historical notes at the back of the book so that you can learn more about the events and the people involved.
As someone who loves both New Zealand history and graphic novels I absolutely love this book! I loved studying New Zealand history when I was in high school and this is the sort of book that I needed. Secondary school Social Science teachers all over New Zealand need to have this book put in their hands. It is an invaluable resource to make history come alive, not just for teenagers but adults as well.
The art is stunning throughout, with realistic depictions of Maori and Pakeha. I especially like the art and layout of the front cover, which reminded me of a movie poster. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that there wasn’t enough of a margin throughout the book, meaning that you have to really pull the pages apart sometimes to read the text.
Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843 is a finalist in the Best First Book Category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and it is certainly a winning book in my opinion.
Congratulations to all of the authors and illustrators who are on the shortlist for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, which was announced this morning. As always there is a broad range of titles, some of which I’ve read and loved (Leonie Agnew’s The Impossible Boy) and others that I have yet to discover (Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843).
I really like the addition of the Best First Book Award, which gives recognition to emerging writers and will hopefully encourage them to continue writing stories for children and young adults in New Zealand. I think that it is a shame to lose the Children’s Choice Award but hopefully there will something else introduced to encourage young readers to engage with the finalist books. I will certainly be encouraging the kids at my school to read the finalist books and we’ll do our own Children’s Choice Award in the library.
The finalists for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:
Picture Book Award
- Fuzzy Doodle, Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
- Gwendolyn! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, HarperCollins Publishers (ABC)
- My Grandpa is a Dinosaur, Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones, illustrated by Richard Fairgray, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
- That’s Not a Hippopotamus! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Gecko Press
- The Singing Dolphin/Te Aihe i Waiata, Mere Whaanga, Scholastic NZ
Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction
- Helper and Helper, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Gecko Press
- My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, Tania Roxborogh, Scholastic NZ
- Sunken Forest, Des Hunt, Scholastic NZ
- The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)
- The Impossible Boy, Leonie Agnew, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction
- Coming Home to Roost, Mary-anne Scott, Penguin Random House (Longacre)
- Kiwis at War 1916: Dig for victory, David Hair, Scholastic NZ
- Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press
- Shooting Stars, Brian Falkner, Scholastic NZ
- The Severed Land, Maurice Gee, Penguin Random House (Penguin)
Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction
- From Moa to Dinosaurs: Explore & discover ancient New Zealand, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud, Potton & Burton
- Jack and Charlie: Boys of the bush, Josh James Marcotte and Jack Marcotte, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
- The Cuckoo and the Warbler, Kennedy Warne, illustrated by Heather Hunt, Potton & Burton
- The Genius of Bugs, Simon Pollard, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa Press)
- Torty and the Soldier, Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Fifi Colston, Scholastic NZ
Russell Clark Award for Illustration
- Fuzzy Doodle, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, written by Melinda Szymanik, Scholastic NZ
- Gladys Goes to War, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Glyn Harper, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
- If I Was a Banana, illustrated by Kieran Rynhart, written by Alexandra Tylee, Gecko Press
- Snark: Being a true history of the expedition that discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock . . . and its tragic aftermath, illustrated and written by David Elliot (after Lewis Carroll), Otago University Press
- The Day the Costumes Stuck, illustrated and written by Toby Morris, Beatnik Publishing
Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori
- Ngā Manu Tukutuku e Whitu o Matariki, Calico McClintock, illustrated by Dominique Ford, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ
- Ngārara Huarau, Maxine Hemi, Illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers
Te Haerenga Māia a Riripata i Te Araroa, Maris O’Rourke, illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley, translated by Āni Wainui, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)
- Te Kaihanga Māpere, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
- Tuna rāua ko Hiriwa, Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, Huia Publishers
Best First Book Award
- Awatea’s Treasure, Fraser Smith, Huia Publishers
- Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press
- The Discombobulation of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)
- The Mouse and the Octopus, written and illustrated by Lisala Halapua, Talanoa Books
- Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843, written and illustrated by Matthew H McKinley, Kin Publishing