Earlier this month, 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 Russell Clark Award finalists. The judges said these artists ''dazzle with their difference. From relaxed watercolours and quirky Kiwi settings to warm full-colour spreads, mixed-media mastery and emotive, pared-back graphics, the lack of homogeneity in this category proves just how diverse and creative our illustrators are."
Cook's Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook, written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press).
“The New Zealand children’s book that changed me was The Three Legged Cat by Margaret Mahy because it showed me as a writer how to write a deceptively simple story with depth and humour for a picture book.”
Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, illustrated by Ant Sang, written by Michael Bennett (Penguin Random House)
"The New Zealand children's book that changed me was A Lion in the Meadow because the story of the child’s imaginary world really connected with me, and showed that everyday life can be filled with wonder and magic.’’
Oink, written and illustrated by David Elliot (Gecko Press)
"The New Zealand Children’s book that changed me was Jack Lasenby’s Dead Man’s Head because after a steady diet of British stories I found an authentic New Zealand voice I could relate to."
Puffin the Architect, written and illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)
"The New Zealand children's book that changed me was My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes by Eve Sutton and Lynley Dodd because of its pleasing cumulative structure and deceptively simple illustration style. As a child, it inspired me to make my own stapled together picture book creations, and I loved it so much my Mum even drew and painted a miniature copy for my dolls house!"
Also included in this set of finalists was Josh Morgan, illustrator of The Bomb, (Huia Publishers). We featured his response, along with author Sacha Cotter's, here.