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 among 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:
What New Zealand children's book changed you growing up?
Today, we're featuring the finalists for the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award finalists. The judges found this category ''alive and kicking with books that connect youngsters with the richness of nature and the universality of the human spirit.''
Sarah Pepperle, Art-tastic
The New Zealand children's book that changed me was The O Trilogy by Maurice Gee because I was a kid who still wanted to believe in magic, and in these pages I realised that entire other lives can be lived through books – knowledge that kept me close company through the jungle of my teenage years.
Barbara Else, Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women
The New Zealand children’s book that changed me was The Railway Engine and the Hairy Brigands, Margaret Mahy’s rollicking story of two sisters and their engine saving a town from brigands. It could be a small town in our high country and I wished it were. Oh my goodness, those marvellous brigands with their exuberant red coiffures. The pairing of Mahy’s words with Brian Froud’s gritty but magical illustrations is perfection. I wasn’t writing then. But books linger in the recesses of your awareness. Margaret Mahy showed me what was possible – a New Zealander who was irreverent, fun-loving and relished words.
Debbie McCauley, Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao
The New Zealand children's books that changed me were the Māori myths and legends written by Peter Gossage, because I realised that stories weren’t all based overseas, we had our own stories to tell.
Ned Barraud, New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts
The New Zealand children's book that changed me was The Half Men of O. It was both familiar to me and yet extremely strange and mysterious. It's the kind of book that transports you from your bedroom in a way only the best stories can.
Gillian Candler, Whose Home is This?
The New Zealand children's book that changed me was a delightful tale called George's Monster by Amanda Jackson which was beautifully illustrated by Murray Grimsdale. It won the Russell Clark Illustration Award in 1997. This was one of the very first children's books that I worked on at Learning Media. For me it was the start of learning about the craft of publishing, of book layout and design, which I now bring to my own writing.
Congratulations to all the finalists! For more information about the NZCYA Awards, click here.