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Candler, Gillian
Writer's File

Gillian Candler

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Candler, Gillian
In brief
Gillian Candler is a former teacher and publisher. Her non-fiction books for children explore different environments, from the garden to the seashore and native bush. Her books draw on her experience as an educational publisher, aiming at a style that is both entertaining and informative. Candler has been recognised in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults (previously known as the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards), the Storylines Notable Book Awards and was a recipient of the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award.

Candler, Gillian (1959 –) was born in England, but spent her formative childhood years in Wellington, New Zealand. After attending Victoria University and the Christchurch College of Education, she taught for a number of years at secondary school level before moving into educational publishing in 1991.

In 2012, Candler released At the Beach: explore and discover the New Zealand seashore (Craig Potton Publishing), the first of her ‘Explore and Discover’ series of non-fiction books illustrated by Ned Barraud. The series was created to introduce children to the flora and fauna to be found in different habitats. At the Beach was a finalist in the Non-Fiction section of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2013, and received the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award in 2013.

Her second book was released in 2013, In the Garden: explore and discover the New Zealand backyard (Craig Potton Publishing), and was recognised as a Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book in 2014.

Under the Ocean: explore and discover New Zealand’s sea life (Craig Potton Publishing) was published in 2014. This went on to be a Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book in 2015 and a finalist in the Non-Fiction category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015.

In September 2015, Candler released the fourth title in her ‘Explore and Discover’ series, In the Bush: explore and discover New Zealand’s native forests (Potton and Burton).

Whose Beak is This?, illustrated by Fraser Williamson, was published by Potton and Burton in October 2015. The book lets children guess native birds from the shape of their beaks, introducing the concept of adaptation. Whose Beak is This? was a Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book for 2016 and a Non-Fiction finalist in the 2016 Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

From Moa to Dinosaurs: explore and discover ancient New Zealand was published in September 2016 by Potton and Burton. The fifth title in the ‘Explore and Discover’ series takes the reader back in time from New Zealand 1000 years ago to Gondwana times. It was a non-fiction finalist in the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Candler worked with illustrator Fraser Williamson to create Whose Feet are These?, in which New Zealand native animals including birds, reptiles, an insect, a mammal and more reveal their feet for children to guess their identity. Published in April 2017, Whose Feet are These? received a 2018 Storylines Notable Book Awards.

Published in 2017, the sixth title in the ‘Explore and Discover’ series, Up the River: Explore & discover New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and wetlands gives children an opportunity to look under the surface and see what special creatures live around New Zealand’s freshwater habitats – our creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands. Swimmable and drinkable fresh water are hot topics, and Up the River shows that many native animals depend on healthy waterways for a habitat, and their presence is often used as a sign of the water’s health.

In 2018, Candler wrote Whose Home is This? which includes native birds and sea creatures, such as the yellow-eyed penguin, octopus and crabs. While having fun guessing which native animal lives in the different homes or habitats pictured, this book shows how animals have different strategies for keeping themselves (and their young) safe.

Whose Home is This? was a finalist in the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Also published in 2018, Animals of Aotearoa: explore and discover New Zealand’s wildlife, illustrated by Ned Barraud. This compendium of New Zealand’s native and introduced wildlife complements the individual “explore and discover” books.

In 2019, Gillian completed New Zealand Nature Heroes. Written with the support of a publishing grant from CLNZ, this book is designed to inspire and empower New Zealand kids to be naturalists and conservationists. Aimed at the 8-14 age range, the book features stories of real-life nature heroes, people, who, in the past, or currently, are working to protect and understand New Zealand's natural world. These inspirational profiles are complemented with information about key animals, plants or habitats, and then each matched with an authentic activity that kids can do to make a difference. This book invites readers young and old to be nature heroes themselves.

In 2023, Candler wrote Mia & Leo Go Wild illustrated by Gavin Mouldey and created in collaboration with the NZ Mountain Safety Council. The book tells the story of Mia and Leo’s first overnight tramp to Whiowhio. The story includes safety messages about tramping in New Zealand. Suitable for pre-schoolers and young readers. 

    March 2024
    March 2024