N.B. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own. They in no way reflect those of the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards judging committee.
It’s now three weeks since I got my first lot of books that were submitted for next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. I’ve been mixing up my reading, switching between junior fiction and young adult fiction. So far, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the writing and the range of genres represented. Deborah Burnside’s Rebecca and the Queen of Nations transported me back in time, Vince Ford’s Scrap: Tale of a Blond Puppy introduced me to the life of a sheep-dog, I spent a week in a hut with no power in Joy Cowley’s Dunger, and I met a young Odysseus in Catherine Mayo’s Murder at Mykenai. One of my favourites so far has been Bugs by Whiti Hereaka, a Young Adult book about the unfolding lives of three young people in their last year of school in small-town New Zealand.
At the weekend I read my way through the 49 submitted picture books, labeling them and sorting them into 4 piles. There are some truly brilliant picture books, some really bad ones, and quite a few in between. It’s been interesting looking at what picture books have been included in ‘Best of 2013’ lists. There have been a couple that others have highlighted at ‘bests’ which I consider fairly average, but I’m not going to name them. It’s easy to identify the brilliant picture books, by their high-quality production and design, stunning illustrations, and text that flows and bounces. Here are a couple of my picture book highlights:
I’m looking forward to meeting with my fellow judges and hearing their opinions of the books that they have read. I’m curious to find out whether we have similar opinions on our top books.
Imagine my surprise when I came back from a couple of days away to find 3 big boxes of books waiting for me. Ever since the announcement that I’m going to be a judge for the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, I’ve been wondering which books will be chosen to be considered for the awards. There have been so many wonderful New Zealand books published in the last year and I’ve had quite a few favourites.
When I couldn’t wait any longer I opened the boxes to find 104 beauties (only the first lot of submissions) waiting for me to open their covers and discover the stories and information that await inside. I was glad to find my favourites, those stories that have stuck in my mind, as well as some I had really wanted to read but hadn’t got around to, and some books that I hadn’t even heard of. There are some whose covers and design jump right out at you and beg to be read, and others whose poor design and production will be barriers for some readers discovering the story within the pages.
I sorted the books into those that I have read and those that I haven’t, and as you can see by the photo there is quite a difference. My first goal is to go back through those I have read so far this year and remind myself what it was that I liked/didn’t like about them, then start some serious reading of my ‘to-be-read pile.’
My mountain of books awaits me so I must get started. I’ll report back soon on how the reading is going and what gems I have discovered.
I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce that I’ll be joining Barbara Else and Ant Sang as a judge for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards next year. I’m incredibly honoured to be a part of the awards and it’s very exciting.
I’ve been a part of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival for the last 3 years, as the coordinator for the Canterbury Festival. This is a role that I have loved as it has given me the chance to take the finalist books out to my region and share them with children of all ages. The roadshow that our Canterbury committee did this year for the Festival was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a librarian, as we got to talk about the finalist books and read them to so many children in our region. Having the opportunity to actually be one of the three people choosing which books are the best books in New Zealand over the past year feels absolutely incredible. We have so many talented authors and illustrators in New Zealand who create some magical, captivating, adventure-filled and even heart-breaking books, so it is going to be a huge task to choose the best.
I’m going to have lots of reading ahead of me – approximately 120 books! I’m certainly looking forward to receiving my first box of books and starting my reading. There will be books that I’ve already read and loved, but there are sure to be some treasures that I’m yet to discover. I hope to share some thoughts on my life as a judge here on the blog and talk about some of the books I’m reading.
How exciting is it to be a judge? Let Kermit show you:
To find out more about the 2014 judges check out the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards website.
The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards gathered in Christchurch last night for the awards ceremony. The awards night is always themed and this year the organisers went for a ‘Witch in the Cherry Tree’ theme in honour of Margaret Mahy. The book of the year was also renamed the ‘New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year’ this year. I was nervous myself, hoping that my favourites would take out the award, so I’m sure the authors and illustrators themselves were incredibly nervous. Overall, I was pleased to see a couple of my favourites win awards, but I was disappointed that others missed out. I think that Red Rocks and The Nature of Ash are amazing books and if I could give Rachael and Mandy an award I would.
Read below to find out who won each category, as well as the Honour Book and Children’s Choice Award.
Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year
Into the River by Ted Dawe
100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere
Best Junior Fiction
My Brother’s War by David Hill
Honour award, Junior Fiction
The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series by Barbara Else
Best Picture Book
Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop
Best First Book
Reach by Hugh Brown
Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly, Scholastic NZ
The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival starts on Monday 17 June (that’s next week) and our committee here in Christchurch can’t wait to bring the Festival to the children of Canterbury. The main part of the Canterbury Festival this year is our Roadshow. We’re taking the finalist books on the road and visiting schools and preschools throughout Canterbury, from Ashburton up to Rangiora. We’ll be reading and talking about the finalists and I’ll be stepping in to Mister Whistler’s shoes each day.
We wanted to have a cool way to promote the books to the kids in each of our sessions so we came up with the idea of reading an extract from some of the books. The kids will then have to guess which book the extract comes from. It’s an easy idea that you could use in your classroom or library too. See if you can figure out which 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalist book these extracts come from.
- ‘Then came the long metal howl. In the canyon mouth, Hodie saw a bright blur. Next moment a wind-train shot out of the canyon and snaked above the valley floor towards the Depot. Lamps shone at the front. Four large swivelling wings on the engine made it shift this way and that to catch the currents of wind. Larger wings were spaced along three carriages, one of which looked like a dining car, and a van that must be for luggage. Concertina metal cages linked the carriages.’
- ‘All the time, the song raced round and round his head, and his feet tried to dance him round and round the platform.’
- ‘Gorging grubber, larvae-lover, snail-scratcher, beetle-battler.’
- ‘He looked out to sea. He had never been down here at night and he took a moment to enjoy the strangeness of it. In the patches of light, he thought he made out seaweed in the surging water, and something else, floating out there, waiting. Seals! He stood up and shivered in the wind. He heard it again: ‘The skin. Jake.’ A row of seals, their wet heads dark against the sea, watched him, like a row of sentries guarding the sea. Or the beach.’
- ‘The creatures here have to watch out for other hungry animals looking for a meal. Some dig into the sand to escape. Some hide under rocks. Others have clever ways of protecting themselves.’
- ‘We’re safe where we are, but we don’t wait around to speculate, just run like hell until we’re through the gardens and back in town. It’s chaos there. People packing out of offices. Shops boarding up their windows. Lucinda takes her leave of us, promising she’ll keep in touch. All the frantic activity underlines how stuffed I feel, not helped when Mikey whines about being hungry and tired the rest of the way home.’
I hope you all have a great festival week, whatever you may be doing. I certainly can’t wait until the awards ceremony in Christchurch on Monday 24 June to find out who takes out the awards!
There are heaps of great activity ideas out there to help you celebrate the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. These ideas are aimed at teachers but you could try them out at home too.
There are some general Schools Resources on the Booksellers NZ New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards pages – http://booksellers.co.nz/awards/new-zealand-post-childrens-book-awards/2013resources.
Check out these books and their activity ideas:
Young Adult Fiction