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2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Shortlist

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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:

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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

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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)

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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
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The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Like many of the books on my shelves The Bombs That Brought Us Together has been sitting on my shelf for a while just waiting for the chance for me to pick it up.  I’ve spent the last month reading through my TBR pile and this book shot straight to the top when I heard that it had won the Costa Book Award.  I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading it because it is a brilliant book.

9781408855744Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will…

The Bombs That Brought Us Together is an atmospheric, tense, utterly unique read that made me smile one minute and bite my nails the next.  I was absolutely captivated by this story and the characters that Brian has brought to life.  It is clear to see why this book won the Costa Book Award.
Brian Conaghan portrays life in a war-zone and a time of unrest with honesty and with heart. You see what the day-to-day reality is for Charlie, with rationing, curfews and beatings, and you see the fear that his parents live with.  Charlie tells us about the reality of life after the bombs when he shares his list of things he did before the bombs came, including ‘got really bored because Little Town had a lack of teenage things to do.’ You also see what life is like for refugees like Pav, those people that are forced out of the country and the lives that they knew into a place where they are hated and made to do horrible jobs just to survive.  Brian also shows us the friendship and hope that exists too, even with everything else that is happening.
The way in which Brian has portrayed the war between Little Town and Old Country is brilliant.  The conflict between Little Town and Old Country bears striking similarities to wars all over the world.  There are rebels that have taken Little Town as their own and they run the place as they see fit, but Old Country wants to take Little Town back and so they invade with their bombs and their soldiers.  Pav and his family are refugees from Old Country who are now living in Little Town and they are persecuted, especially when the Old Country troops invade.  Little Town is run by The Big Man and his Rascals.  It is when Charlie and Pav get themselves involved with The Big Man that the real trouble starts.
It was Charlie’s voice that grabbed me from the first page and made me want to keep reading.  As the story is narrated by Charlie you really get inside his head and go through all of his dilemmas and the events of the story right with him.  You feel him changing as the story progresses and hope that he is going to make the right choices.  You know how much he wants to protect his family and Pav and that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe.  Things get especially tense towards the end of the book and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end.
The Bombs That Brought Us Together is one of those stories that I’m still thinking about days after finishing it.  Charlie and Pav will stay with me and I’ll wonder what they are getting up to.  I loved Brian’s writing so much that I want to go and hunt down his first book, When Mr Dog Bites, and I’m eagerly awaiting his next book (with Sarah Crossan) called We Come Apart.
Recommended for 13+ (definitely a YA read).

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Exciting news about the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

It has finally happened.  One of the best decisions for authors and illustrators of books for children in New Zealand has been made.  The NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards is merging next year to create the MEGA awards for children’s literature.  It means that more effort can be put into promoting the best books for children and teens in NZ and it will hopefully be less confusing for kids and adults alike.  I really like that they’re taking the best of both awards and putting them together.  The Hell Pizza Wheels have been a great way to get kids reading and I believe that it is incredibly important to acknowledge both the author and illustrators when it comes to picture books.

Read the press release below to find out all the details:

Leading New Zealand Children’s Book Awards merge and Hell Pizza encourages Reading addiction – Prize money now totals $59,500

The New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) have announced today that they are merging their respective children’s book awards, setting the stage for even more activity and visibility around books for New Zealand children. Complementing the Awards, Hell Pizza has partnered with the New Zealand Book Awards Trust to sponsor the Hell New Zealand Reading Challenge.

The awards have a combined legacy of more than 100 years; the Trust-governed awards began in 1975 and LIANZA’s were established in 1945. A shared passion for children’s literature has brought the two awards together in a desire to increase children’s engagement with reading.

“We are thrilled about this decision to amalgamate the awards,” says New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair Nicola Legat. “The LIANZA awards are highly regarded by authors and publishers and we acknowledge how difficult it has been for LIANZA’s board to take this historic decision. We feel privileged to have LIANZA’S trust, and their awards will be in very good and sustainable hands. They will be cherished within our organisation.

“The merged awards now have a prize money pool of $59,500. This amount is a significant contribution to the children’s literature economy in this country.”

LIANZA President, Kris Wehipeihana, is equally delighted. “Merging the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards with the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is exactly the kind of collaboration that our sector endorses.” she says. “This is a win for both organisations, and for Aotearoa New Zealand children’s literature. We’re looking forward to working with the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.”

While the new awards will still be known as the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults they will incorporate important elements of the LIANZA awards. The awards will continue to bestow the Esther Glen title to the junior fiction category which maintains the tradition of New Zealand’s oldest children’s book award. In addition, the awards will continue to confer the Elsie Locke title to the non-fiction award and will also include LIANZA’s award for illustration, the Russell Clark award.

LIANZA’s Te Kura Pounamu award for the best book in Te Reo will replace the current Māori language award. This award will continue to be judged by Māori librarian and information association, Te Ropu Whakahau,

The awards will be administered and governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, and a LIANZA representative will have a permanent seat on its board of trustees.

Hell Pizza’s high-profile relationship with LIANZA’s awards via its Reading Challenge will continue within the new format. “The success of the Reading Challenge has been hugely satisfying. With the announcement of this exciting merger of the awards we can take it to the next level and encourage even more New Zealand kids to enjoy reading books,” says Hell Pizza’s general manager Ben Cumming. “The 150,000 free pizza vouchers we gave out earlier this year amounted to more than one million books read by Kiwi kids. We would love to build on that number in 2016. Hell has always challenged the norm, and with kids now becoming so engrossed with modern technology we are bucking that trend and making reading cool again. We want pizza to be the gateway drug to reading addiction!”

Nicola Legat concludes, “The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is grateful for the support of our major funder Creative New Zealand as well as our other key sponsors Copyright Licensing New Zealand, Book Tokens Ltd and now Hell Pizza. We very much appreciate their significant investment and we are very much looking forward to next year’s awards.”

The call for entries in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults opens on Monday, 16 November 2015 and the awards ceremony will held be in Wellington in August 2016.

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Winners of the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Last night the winners of the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced in Wellington.  Not only were the judge’s winners announced but also the children’s winners, with the children of New Zealand choosing their favourites in the newly revamped Children’s Choice Award.

Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners!  You’re all super stars and absolutely deserve your recognition.

Junior Fiction Winner – Monkey Boy, by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic NZ)

Picture Book Winner – Jim’s Letters, by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin Random House NZ (Puffin))

Nonfiction Winner – Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill, by Debbie McCauley and Tamati Waaka (translation) (Mauāo Press)

Young Adult Fiction Winner – Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House NZ)

Maori Language Award – Ngā Kī, translation by Kawata Teepa (Ngai Tuhoe, Te Arawa) of Keys by Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)

Best First Book Award – Māori Art for Kids, by Julie Noanoa (Potton & Burton)

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award – Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House NZ)

 

Children’s Choice Junior Fiction Winner – Island of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins)

Children’s Choice Picture Book Winner – The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett, illustrated by Trish Bowles (Scholastic NZ)

Children’s Choice Nonfiction Winner – The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford (Scholastic NZ)

Children’s Choice Young Adult Winner – Night Vision by Ella West (Allen & Unwin)

 

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Children’s Choice Blog Tour Wrap-up

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Together with Booksellers NZ, the NZ Book Council and some other wonderful NZ bloggers we have just finished a fabulous four-week tour around our author’s inspirations, aims and achievements with their Children’s Choice finalist books.  To read the Booksellers NZ wrap-up of the tour, complete with links to all the interviews and reviews check out their blog post here – The Blog to end our 20-day blog tour!

Now it is time for you to help your kids to vote their favourite book and author to win: they will be in to win a selection of finalists for themselves and their school if they do! Kids can select a winner in each category; the winning book of each category will win $2000 at the Book Awards ceremony on Thursday 13 August.

So if you haven’t yet, please help your children to vote at www.booksellers.co.nz/vote-childrens-choice.

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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Desna Wallace

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Desna Wallace-smlDesna Wallace lived through the Canterbury Earthquakes, and it is no surprise that children from all over NZ voted her book Canterbury Quake, as one of their finalists in the Children’s Choice list. The book is part of Scholastic NZ’s ‘My New Zealand Story’ list, a series of fiction titles featuring notable NZ events. Desna Wallace is a school librarian in Christchurch who is passionate about children’s books. She has had a number of stories published in the School Journal, but Canterbury Quake is her first published novel. We wanted to know how it all came about.

  • As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book in particular?

A friend kept telling me that I needed to write about Christchurch’s devastating earthquakes. At first I kept saying no but eventually one day while driving home from work, the character of Maddy popped into my head and by the time I got home, her whole family were in there too. It was a bit crowded in there so I just began writing and kept on writing. I felt that Maddy’s story would be best told in diary format so that readers could experience the daily life of a family living through a national disaster.  Even though I lived through the earthquakes and life inside a broken city, I still had to do a heap of research to make sure everything was accurate. It needed to be exactly right as it is the story of one of New Zealand’s worst ever disasters. And I agree that it was a story that needed to be told and I feel so privileged that my Maddy, was the one to do the telling. I am so glad my friend had faith in me to give it a go.

  • Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

I was incredibly lucky with my book being published. I had written stories, poems and plays for the School Journal and even had a Ready-to-Read book published but in terms of writing a novel I was completely inexperienced.  I knew how it felt to be in the quakes, what it felt like to be scared and because I worked with children, I knew how they felt too so I guess my story was very real. I think this is why it was accepted; I was writing from true experience.

When it was accepted, everything happened very quickly which was a bit scary as I didn’t really know what I should be doing. I had deadlines to keep to and I was working my day jobs too, so there was a bit of pressure to do everything. I had kept my writing a secret until I knew it was going to be published, so that was a bit hard too. Then when it was accepted, I wanted to tell the whole world!

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  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

This was the easiest thing to do. I knew I wanted a diary format and as I worked very closely with a group of ten and 11 year olds, I knew this was the group I wanted to write for. It was the age group of children I felt would understand Maddy best. Maddy was very real to me and I hoped that she would be real to children in this age group. Scholastic’s My New Zealand story format is very clear so I just followed their advice.

  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

I dedicated the book to my son, Calvin. After a divorce I raised him on my own from just a baby so it has always been just the two of us. He is my best friend and the most important person in my life, and I felt so proud to dedicate my book to him.

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

I would read any of the ‘My New Zealand Story’ books. There are so many important events in New Zealand’s history and reading the diaries is such a cool way to get to know about our past.

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

I love scrapbooking, and gardening. Both of these hobbies are relaxing and rewarding. I love the finished page with photos and embellishments.  However, I really don’t like mowing my lawns. In fact I hate it! But I do like the way the lawns look after a cut and I love the smell of the grass after the lawn has been mowed. I have two cats and I love spending time with them in the garden. One of my cats (who is actually Dusty in my novel) loves climbing all over my keyboard when I type and in fact is doing it right now which makes typing very hard. It is a wonder I get anything finished.

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Desna was the Christchurch Library Kids’ blogs star author in February 2014: https://christchurchkids.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/february-star-author-desna-wallace/ Scholastic NZ’s feature about Desna: http://www.scholastic.co.nz/publishing/author/pdfs/tileD.pdf

For a review of My New Zealand Story: Canterbury Quake, check out the Booksellers NZ blog here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/book-review-my-story-canterbury-quake-by-desna-wallace/

Friday’s feature was 1914: Riding into War, by Susan Brocker, both of whom were featured on Booknotes Unbound, www.booknotes-unbound.co.nz  Tomorrow’s feature will be another junior fiction title, The Island of Lost Horses, by Stacy Gregg,  which will be on Booksellers NZ’s blog here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/.

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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Kyle Mewburn

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Kyle Mewburn 15_smlDragon Knight: Fire!, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Donovan Bixley, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Junior Fiction  category. Dragon Knight: Fire!  is also on the judge’s finalist list. Kyle and Donovan have collaborated previously, on the best-selling Dinosaur Rescue series.

Central Otago-based Kyle Mewburn has form on his side in the Children’s Choice game, having won this prestigious award twice previously, with Kiss Kiss! Yuck Yuck!, and Melu , both illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly.

  • As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this series?

I don’t usually let my ideas float around in case they escape – or some other sneaky author steals one. My ideas are kept securely locked up in a deep, dark dungeon in the bottom of my brain. Unfortunately ideas can be very stubborn sometimes and refuse to reveal their secrets, no matter how nicely I talk to them. So generally I have to resort to torture.

I decided to write my Dragon Knight series because I knew lots of fans of Dinosaur Rescue would be very angry if I didn’t write a new series soon. My publisher wanted a series with dragons, but I wanted to write about a boy who goes to Knight School (I can never resist a pun. Indeed, some of my best stories have started as a simple pun!). Luckily ,dragons and knights go together perfectly.

  1. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

The journey was relatively smooth sailing. Apart from a few editorial tweaks the story went through the entire publishing process relatively unscathed. The only hurdle was rewriting a couple of the “fact” boxes because they apparently “weren’t funny enough”. The biggest challenge was drawing the pictures. Luckily, I had nothing to do with that.

  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

I don’t think it’s at all helpful to imagine yourself “tailoring” a story to any age group. That suggests any writer can write for any age group through a process of careful selection. I don’t actually agree that’s the case. The process is more organic than that. Either you can access your inner child or you can’t. If you can, then the stories tend to evolve naturally and take on a life of their own. If you can’t, then it’s no point really trying because any story you write will be prescriptive and fail to touch the reader. The only “tailoring” is actually more along the lines of editorial tinkering, such as debating the appropriateness of specific vocabulary or sentences structures.

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  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

Dragon Knight – Fire! is dedicated to Rio. I met Rio’s mum when I was at the Leipzig Book Fair – she was working for the NZ embassy at the time. She told me Rio was a super-keen reader, so I gave her some Dinosaur Rescue books. Rio loved them and started writing to me. When I finally met him a few years later I’d just finished writing Fire!, so I gave it to him to read. His verdict: “This is going to be HUGE. But make sure you include plenty of lists. Kids love lists.” So I decided to dedicate it to him right on the spot!

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

Indeed. I’d recommend my entire Dinosaur Rescue series and the other three episodes of Dragon Knight.

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

When I’m not writing I’m either eating, building or pottering around my garden. When you write full-time it’s always good to do something in-between which doesn’t involve too much thinking. You can let your mind wander so new ideas can sneak up on you. Besides, if I didn’t do something involving physical activity I’d be hugely fat in no time because I really do love eating.

Dragon Knight: Fire! by Kyle Mewburn & Donovan Bixley Scholastic New Zealand ISBN 9781775432593 RRP $12.00 Target age 7 to 10 years

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If you want to know more about Kyle, check out his website here: http://kylemewburn.com/

If you want to know more about Donovan, check out his website here: http://www.donovanbixley.com/

For reviews of Dragon Knight: Fire! and its sequel Rats!, check out the Booksellers NZ review here: http://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/book-review-dragon-knight-fire-and-dragon-knight-rats-by-kyle-mewburn-and-donovan-bixley/.

This is day eleven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards, and the first day featuring junior fiction.

Yesterday’s feature was Marmaduke Duck and the Wide Blue Sea, by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis, both of whom were featured on  http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.  Tomorrow’s feature will be a second junior fiction title, 1914: Riding into War, by Susan Brocker, featured on NZ Book Council’s blog: www.booknotes-unbound.co.nz.

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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Yvonne Morrison

Yvonne Morrison’s book Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), illustrated by Donovan Bixley, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Picture Book  category. Little Red is also on the judge’s finalist list. She and Donovan collaborated last year, on the Children’s Choice award-winning The Three Bears (Sort Of).

Yvonne is a zookeeper, swing dance instructor, former school teacher, and children’s book author of such bestsellers as A Kiwi Night Before Christmas, A Kiwi Jingle Bells, Down in the Forest and The Three Bears (Sort of).

  1. I remember last year, you were struck by the idea for The Three Bears (Sort of) and wrote it very quickly. Was it more difficult following this up with another fairytale-inspired story – How did this come to you?

I used to be a primary school teacher, and I was visiting an ex-colleague who asked me to read Three Bears (Sort Of) to her class and conduct a follow-on writing lesson for her staff to observe as professional development. I used Red Riding Hood as a model of how to alter a fairy tale, and then the children had a go at doing their own. When my publishers suggested a follow-up to Three Bears, it was natural to turn to Little Red, as I’d already had a head-start. Once you really start thinking about the original story, the ideas flow. Why DOESN’T Little Red notice the wolf isn’t Granny right away? And how DOES a wolf swallow a Granny whole?

  1. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

Really, it was a breeze. I simply supplied the manuscript, my editors queried a few things (and rightly so), I tidied up some bits, and then it was good to go to Donovan Bixley for the hard part –  illustrating! I think he faced some considerable challenges in this book – we had discussions about how gruesome the drawings could be… it’s not easy to convey swallowed grannies and slit-open wolves in a tasteful manner, but Donovan achieved it!

  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

To be honest, I didn’t try all that hard. I tend to write books that amuse myself, and hope that by not talking down to children, they will pick up on whatever level of humour they are ready for. I also hope that the adults reading my books aloud are also amused by the stories, since they may be hearing and reading them frequently. Donovan helps in this by providing clever illustrations that work on all levels.

Incidentally, I also slipped in my own personal ethical philosophy by having the wolf end up at a wolf sanctuary. I’m always hoping that little things like that might lead to a teachable moment, or spark a classroom debate, and get kids thinking about such questions as the nature of good and evil – is a carnivorous wolf evil simply because he seeks to eat humans? I would like to think that both Little Red and Three Bears are encouraging questioning and skepticism in young people.

  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

I haven’t this time. At this point, I have a book dedicated to each of the people I love, and now I’ve run out of people!

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

The first fractured fairy-tale I read is still my favourite. It’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka. I also like anything quirky, like It’s a Book by Lane Smith, and of course my fellow finalist, I Am Not A Worm! by Scott Tulloch. I am pleased that publishers are becoming more open to non-traditional manuscripts and hope that this trend continues!

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

I can’t choose just one thing! Here’s four: dancing, because it keeps me fit, lets me listen to great music and brings me joy; travelling, because it teaches me about different cultures and gives me new experiences to draw on; helping animals, because animals think and feel just like we do but are unable to speak for themselves, so I choose to be their voice; and eating, because food is awesome!

I am about to embark on a new adventure that will combine three of these things – my husband and I have just got a job in Vietnam managing a centre for endangered primates. We will be helping with rescues of gibbons, monkeys and lorises destined for the pet or traditional medicine trade and rehabilitating them for wild release. We will be living on an island in the jungle! And of course we will be seeing lots of South-East Asia and eating some amazing food.

Hopefully this adventure will fill me with fuel for writing too!

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If you want to know more about Yvonne, check out her website here: http://www.yvonnewritesbooks.com/mybookskids.html

For reviews of Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite), check out the Booksellers NZ review here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/book-review-little-red-riding-hood-not-quite-by-yvonne-morrison-illustrated-by-donovan-bixley/

And my review here on the blog.

This is day seven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards. Earlier today I posted Donovan’s answers to the illustrator’s interview for  this title and you can find that interview here – https://bestfriendsarebooks.com/2015/06/30/2015-new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults-interview-with-donovan-bixley/.  Yesterday’s feature was I am not a Worm, by Scott Tulloch, whose interview can be found here: http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/2015/07/nz-book-awards-for-children-and-young_2.html.  Monday’s feature will be our third picture book, Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam and Myles Lawford will be covered back on Thrifty Gifty http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.

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Filed under 2015 Children's Choice Award, 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, awards, book awards, books, children, children's fiction, New Zealand

Winners of the 2015 Carnegie and Greenaway Medals

The winners of the 2015 Carnegie and Greenaway Medals were announced on Monday in the UK.  Tanya Landman was awarded the CILIP Carnegie Medal for Buffalo Soldier and William Grill was awarded the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his debut picture book, Shackleton’s Journey.  They each received a medal and £500 of books to donate to their local library and William Grill also received the Colin Mears Award of £5,000.

xxxxxCharley, a young African-American slave from the Deep South, is freed at the end of the American Civil War. However her freedom is met with tragedy after her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob, and Charley finds herself alone with no protection. In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person’s skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it’s only when Charley is posted to Apache territory to fight “savage Indians” that she begins to learn about who she is and what it is to be truly free.

The judges said: Engrossing from the very beginning, the strong narrative voice engages the reader in the world described; perfectly conveying raw emotions without the overuse of sentimentality. This is a beautiful, powerful piece of writing that will remain with readers long after the last page.

xxxxxIn the last days of the Heroic Age of Exploration, Ernest Shackleton dreamed of crossing the frozen heart of Antarctica, a place of ferocious seas, uncharted mountains and bone-chilling cold. But when his ship, the Endurance, became trapped in the deadly grip of the ice, Shackleton’s dreams of crossing Antarctica were shattered. Stranded in a cold, white world, and thousands of miles from home, the men of the expedition set out on a desperate trek across the ice in search of rescue.

The judges said: This beautiful non-fiction book seems to effortlessly bring a modern and fresh feel to the story of Ernest Shackleton, whilst remaining traditional and classic. This is an exciting, quality book which provides a true experience and reminds us that it is the people, not the journey, that truly matter.

I haven’t read either of these books but they both sound really interesting.  My picks were More Than This by Patrick Ness for the Carnegie and Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell for the Greenaway.  There were certainly some great books on the shortlist and I’m sure it would have been a tough decision.

The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. The shortlisted books this year were:

  • When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan
  • Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossman
  • Tinder by Sally Gardner
  • Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
  • The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird
  • Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman
  • The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness

The Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people. The shortlisted books this year were:

  • The Promise, illustrated by Laura Carlin
  • Jim’s Lion, illustrated by Alexis Deacon
  • Shackleton’s Journey, written and illustrated by William Grill
  • Dark Satanic Mills, illustrated by John Higgins and Marc Olivent
  • Smelly Louie, written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner
  • Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, written and illustrated by Chris Riddell
  • Tinder, illustrated by David Roberts
  • Rules of Summer, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan

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2015 LIANZA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Awards Winners

The award ceremony for the 2015 LIANZA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Awards was held at the National Library in Wellington last night.  Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners!  Here are the winners:

  • Russell Clark Illustration Award Winner: Mrs Mo’s Monster by Paul Beavis– Gecko Press
  • Elsie Locke Nonfiction Winner: Maori Art for Kids by Julie Noanoa and Norm Heke– Potton and Burton Publishing
  • Te Kura Pounamu Winner: Kimihia by Te Mihinga Komene and Scott Pearson – Huia Publishers
  • Librarian’s Choice Award Winner: I am Rebecca by Fleur Beale – Penguin Random House
  • LIANZA YA Fiction Winner: Night Vision by Ella West – Allen and Unwin
  • Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award Winner: Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand by Leonie Agnew – Penguin

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