In the run-up to this year's New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, we asked the finalist authors and illustrators to tell us about a moment when they saw themselves reflected in a book as a child. Or didn't, as the case may be...
We will share three of the responses we received each week before the NZCYA ceremony on August 11.
In part five of our series, we are featuring a Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award finalist: T K Roxborogh. Tania is the author of Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea, which is illustrated by Phoebe Morris and published by Huia.
We asked Tania: when did you see yourself reflected in a childhood book?
"Two books helped me to see myself (a 'different/isolated/square-peg-in-a-round-hole child): Pippi Longstocking because she was independent and different and funny and didn't need adults to help her make her life ok.
"The other was the character George in The Famous Five because she was brave and didn't let her gender stop her from taking charge. I liked to think I was independent and brave and had initiative and a healthy distrust of those in authority like Pippi and George."
Read our Hooked on NZ Books reviews of Charlie Tangaroa: A stunning tale of bravery, by Ashika Hira, and A book about courage and mermaids, by Kendal Morgan.
Vasanti Unka is a finalist for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration.
An active participant in our Writers in Schools programme, Vasanti has been visiting classrooms to inspire children and reading, writing and art for more than seven years. Her most recent book, I Am the Universe is published by Penguin Random House NZ.
Of her childhood reading, Vasanti says:
"Even though I could read before I started school, I was put into the remedial reading class. All the brown kids were in that class yet there were no brown kids in any of the books we read.
"One day they discovered my reading level and moved me up two classes. I was given a prize for Best Effort – a book of fairy tales. When I was about twelve, I rewrote some of the fairy tales; Snow White became Rain Black. The teacher said I was good at telling jokes."
Also a finalist in the running for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration, Laya Mutton-Rogers is the illustrator of Te Uruuru Whenua o Ngātoroirangi, published by Huia.
"I can't really remember a specific instance as a young child, though in terms of being Pākehā, able-bodied, etc, I'm represented plenty!
"But once I got past a certain age, the girls in stories started always being interested in boys and romance which I didn't remotely relate to - it wasn't until I was a teenager that I started to see that being actively challenged in books in a way I actually related to."