Over the next month we'll be spreading the joy of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Specifically, we'll be featuring the voices of the authors who have made it to the finalist list.
Today we're featuring the finalists for the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction, and ask them the question:
Children have spent a lot of time confined by the four walls of their homes this year, but with reading there is no limit to where your imagination can take you. What did books offer you as a child?
The 2020 finalists for this award are:
Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary, written and illustrated by Kat Quin, translated by Pānia Papa (Illustrated Publishing)
Mophead, Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press)
Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, Ross Calman and Mark Derby, illustrated by Toby Morris, translated by Piripi Walker (Lift Education)
The Adventures of Tupaia, Courtney Sina Meredith, illustrated by Mat Tait (Allen & Unwin, in partnership with Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum)
Three Kiwi Tales, Janet Hunt (Massey University Press)
Kat Quin: I absolutely loved elaborately illustrated picture books as a little one. I spent hours studying Richard Scarry's detailed cross section/cut away illustrations. I can see his style coming through my mahi today. Woven throughout my own illustrative works are nostalgic visual gags, often memories from my childhood, or from these books of my youth. I find these hidden details are an engaging way to connect with the parents sharing the stories. Hidden in a deliberate way, the reader feels when they spot them, we have shared a private joke. Looking back on Richard Scarry's work, with grown-up eyes, I can see all of the details I missed, but obviously absorbed on some level! As a child, reading for me was visual. It often got me in trouble. I still float to the illustrated books, before the strictly text based 'adult' books.
Mark Derby: One day, in the school library, I came across a book called The Boys of Puhawai by "Kim," (Paul's Book Arcade, 1960). I discovered that kids like me, doing the same stuff I did, in places I recognised, could be in stories as wonderful as anything else I'd ever read. I think I've been trying to recreate the same feeling for other readers ever since.
Ross Calman: Books are a very safe way to travel, to visit different places and meet different people. When I was a child, I loved inhabiting the world the author of the book had created, seemingly just for me. I used to love being confronted with some completely new way of looking at the world, a thought or concept I had never dreamt of. At these times I would stop reading for a moment and just ponder on that new thought or concept until I had got my head around it. I used to love reading so much as a child, that the only job I wanted to do when I grew up was to be a writer!
Courtney Sina Meredith: My mother is a writer so I was hugely inspired by the power of the written and the spoken word from a very early age - in fact, it was my dream to become an author (ok, that or a rockstar!) Reading was an opportunity for me to time travel and to immerse myself in new worlds. I still have some of my favourite childhood books at home that I cherish to this day.'
Janet Hunt: Books were a portal to other worlds, real and imaginary: I was a hesitant beginning reader but once under way, I was unstoppable. I had my nose in a book at all available times, on the bus, in the back of the car, at the dining table and under the bedcovers at night with a torch. I read my way through all the books in my year 3/4 classroom and was permitted to borrow books from the ‘big classroom’ next door; at high school I was a librarian, all the better to have many more books checked out than the supposed limit. Books . . . the key to the universe . . . just magic!
To see the other finalists of this year's awards, click here.