Over the past month we've been spreading the joy of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Specifically, here on our blog we've featured the voices of the authors who have made it to the finalist list.
Today we're featuring the finalists for the Best First Book Award, 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:
Michael Petherick for #Tumeke! (Massey University Press)
Weng Wai Chan for Lizard's Tale (Text Publishing)
Isobel Joy Te Aho-White (illustrator) for Santa's Worst Christmas, written by Pania Tahau-Hodges and Bryony Walker (Huia Publishers)
Belinda O'Keefe for The Day the Plants Fought Back, illustrated by Richard Hoit (Scholastic NZ)
Laya Mutton-Rogers (illustrator) for The Smelly Giant, written by Kurahau (Huia Publishers)
Belinda: Books inspired my imagination and enlivened my senses – the crunch of snow underfoot as I stepped into the land of Narnia; the sweet taste of a luscious giant peach; the acrid smell of burnt cakes as they flew up to the witch in the cherry tree; the wind whipping through my hair as I rode a magic carpet to faraway lands. Books made me laugh, cry, tremble and wonder; they gave me the gift of escape – to fantastical worlds where I could dream the impossible and beyond.
Laya: Books were (and still are!) a way to explore all sorts of new worlds. They expanded my imagination and inspired my creativity.
Kurahau: As a child, books offered Kurahau another world with foreign people and unseen geographical forms. Kei te rauwhārangi he ao kē: ōna tāngata me ngā tūtohu whenua.
Weng Wai: As a child growing up in tropical Singapore, my first chapter book (Enid Blyton: Well Done Secret Seven) was a gateway to a mysterious land where the weather was cold and kids solved crimes, as well as being an introduction to exotic foods like anchovy paste, lashings of lemonade and something called a ‘smashing jam-sponge sandwich.’
Pania: Books gave me a window into worlds and realities that were different to my own and this fascinated me. As a Māori girl growing up in Porirua, I hardly ever saw myself or people that I knew in the books that I read, but thankfully that’s changing now.
Bryony: It was great to step into another person for a while and try on what it was like to be mischievous, courageous, a prankster or a traveller.
Catch up on the other posts in this series:
Finalists for the Picture Book Award
Finalists for the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction
Finalists for the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction
Finalists for the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori
Finalists for the Young Adult Fiction Award
This year, the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be live-streamed on Facebook. Click here to join in from 6pm, Wednesday August 12.