In the run-up to this year's New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, we've asked the finalist authors and illustrators to tell us about meaningful reading experiences from their childhood.
We will share their responses in installments, every Tuesday before the NZCYA ceremony on August 10.
Meet the finalists for the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award category
Meet the finalists for the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction category
Meet the finalists for the Young Adult Fiction category
Here's the exact question we asked:
We want to celebrate the life-changing power of children’s books and how they can strengthen young minds and imaginations. Tell us about a book or reading experience from when you were younger that was a little bit life-changing for you?
This week, we're featuring the finalists for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration, and the Picture Book Award. Some authors are up for both.
Kimberly Andrews: Russell Clark Award for Illustration finalist for Moose the Pilot (Penguin Random House NZ)
I remember reading Tomorrow, When the War Began and the whole Tomorrow series by John Marsden and ‘living’ Ellie’s story. It was one of the first times I found a novel ‘unputdownable’. Even today, when I am hiking, I will sometimes have that thought when walking out ‘what if the world has totally changed while we were in there…’? It was a defining part of my reading journey and I loved my childhood paperback set!
Laya Mutton-Rogers: Russell Clark Award for Illustration finalist for The Eight Gifts of Te Wheke, written by Steph Matuku (Huia Publishers). The book is also up for the Picture Book Award.
I'm not sure I can remember any specific life-changing reading experiences, but I do have one vivid memory of being in Whitcoulls and my mum bought me Mortal Engines and Sabriel. Despite reading a lot I was weirdly hesitant to get into new books I knew nothing about, and I wasn't that enthused. I read them anyway...and I've reread them countless times and still consider them some of my favourite books! It's probably what got me fully into YA sff.
Emily Joe: Picture Book Award finalist and Russell Clark Award for Illustration finalist for My Cat Can See Ghosts (Beatnik)
When I was younger, I loved rhyming descriptive books. I loved books that found new words to describe concepts I already thought I knew. I think children’s books have a unique power to teach us that there’s always more than one way to look at our world. A dog who says ‘woof woof’ in one book is just as correct as the dog who ‘bark bark’ in another - and it’s liberating to know that whatever you think a dog might say could be equally right as well.
Also up for this award are Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes, Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House NZ) and Mokopuna Matatini, Story Hemi-Morehouse, written by Pania Tahau-Hodges (Huia Publishers).
David Elliot for Bumblebee Grumblebee (Gecko Press), Picture Book Award finalist
For someone destined to become an illustrator, it’s perhaps not surprising that my strongest memory of books from my childhood is choosing one without pictures for the first time. Suddenly I was on my own, making up the look of the world in front of me as I followed the story through the pages. My forests, my pirates, my jungles and my tigers. Now when I’m looking at books, even those with pictures, I still most admire those that are able to give the reader the freedom to find themselves in the story.
Ruth Paul for Lion Guards the Cake (Scholastic New Zealand), Picture Book Award finalist
Before I could read, I used to study the illustrations in picture books to understand what was happening in the story. Then when I could read, I would sometimes choose not to, preferring to escape into the illustrations, even inventing new and different stories to go with the pictures. As an adult, I realise there is no right or wrong way to read, and the more faculties we use to shape and understand the narrative of our lives, the better.
The Greatest Haka Festival on Earth, Pania Tahau-Hodges, illustrated by Story Hemi-Morehouse (Huia Publishers) (Russell Clark Award finalist Story is pictured at right).