Last week, the finalists for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced. After reading through the longlist, we were not at all surprised to hear that whittling down a shortlist proved difficult.
“The quality of submissions was impressive this year,” says convenor of judges Crissi Blair. “We had serious problems selecting the finalists for each category and it was heartening to see a healthy number of submissions from mainstream, indie and self-publishers, all of which are represented in the shortlist.”
A core aspect of the NZCYA Awards’ mission is to foster literacy and a love of reading amongst New Zealand’s children and teenagers.
With this in mind, we've asked the authors on the shortlist to share with us their favourite New Zealand children's book. To be more precise, we asked:
Which New Zealand children's book changed you growing up?
Here's what Josh Morgan and Sacha Cotter said...
Josh Morgan, illustrator of The Bomb
“The NZ children's book that changed me was The Fish of Maui by Peter Gossage because it was a picture book I re-discovered as a newbie illustrator and which gave me that inspirational, magical and nostalgic feeling for a forgotten world from childhood.
I remembered being totally immersed in this book as a kid (feeling like I was under the pear-green ocean looking up at Māui’s waka), and as an illustrator I strive to create that immersive, magical feeling for readers.
Peter’s work has been very influential to me, both artistically and as a picture book maker—he has created taonga for generations of Kiwis. I go back to this book again and again for inspiration and each time find it visually stunning and mind blowing! Having a unique style is like the holy grail for an illustrator and he had it. The colours are as striking and beautiful as the graphic elements and layout.
In The Fish of Maui, he uses Toi Whakairo inspired patterns poetically but also carries out the strong graphic elements of this art form into the structure and forms in the pictures. I consider myself very lucky to have grown up with this book.
This was (and still is) a story about my hero Maui—who also liked to hide and play tricks on people; a connection to my Māori heritage; a story about how my land came to be—I lived on the back of Tē Ika-a-Maui… the Tararua ranges that surrounded me were carved by Maui’s brothers… I also had annoying brothers…I also gave them their comeuppance when they were being eggs!!!
This book is as iconic as the image of Maui’s hook dangling on the inside cover page waiting to hook in readers and immerse them in its world.”
Sacha Cotter, writer of The Bomb
“Although not a children´s book as such, the New Zealand book that changed me during my childhood was Pōtiki.
I read it as a set text in high school when I was about fourteen, an age when I was entertaining secret thoughts about becoming a writer one day.
I remember being completely mesmerised by Pōtiki and in total awe of Patricia Grace´s writing. It was melodic, spiritual and powerful and so incredibly beautiful. It was the kind of writing that could draw you into a world, make you question and rethink your own, then remain part of you, forever.
It made me see how important it is for people to tell their stories, how stories can connect us, show us who we are and help us to make sense of our world.”
The Bomb is a brand new picture book published by Huia and set firmly in Aotearoa. This summery, exuberant tale will resonate with any child who has ever tried to do something that scares them.
The detailed, artful illustrations are as joyous and assured as the story they capture. The unwavering love and encouragement of the child’s Nan illuminates a strong and convincing message about being yourself and having the courage to do things in your own way.
Find the New Zealand Book Awards on Facebook here.
Find the complete list of finalists here.