FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE
KERR, Bob (1951 –), writes and illustrates children’s books. Born in Wellington (where he now lives), he grew up there and in Tokoroa, graduated DipFA(Hons) from Auckland University and worked as a union organiser and freelance illustrator. He illustrated two picture books, Lucy’s Big Plan (1977) and Lucy Loops the Loop (1979), before collaborating with Stephen Ballantyne in the successful adventures of Terry Teo: Terry and the Gunrunners (1982), later televised; Terry and the Yodelling Bull (1986); and Terry and the Last Moa (1990). These are satirically humorous variants on the models of Tintin or Astérix. Kerr’s own junior novel, The Optimist (1992), about sailing misadventures, won the 1993 Best First Children’s Book Award. The Paper War (1994) examines political issues concerning those working a paper-run. He also edited, with Linda Mitchell, For a Living (1991).
Titles for children written and illustrated by Bob Kerr include Mechanical Harry (Mallinson Rendel, 1996), and its sequel, Mechanical Harry and the Flying Bicycle (Mallinson Rendel, 1999). Mechanical Harry won the Children's Choice Award at the 1997 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Kerr has also written a collection of short stories for 8 - 12 year olds, Strange Tales from the Mall (Mallinson Rendel, 1998), which was shortlisted for the 1999 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Kerr's After the War (2000) received the 2001 Russell Clark Award, and was shortlisted for the 2001 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The work also picked up a Spectrum Book Print Design Award for Best Use of Illustration.
In 2005, Bob Kerr was convenor of judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
In 2008, Kerr provided paintings to David Grant's text in Field Punishment (Steele Roberts), and in 2011 he illustrated Mark Derby's Waiheathens: Voices from a Mining Town (Atuanui Press).
Kerr supplied illustrations for Philippa Werry's picture book Best Mates (New Holland) in 2014.
Changing Times: The Story of a New Zealand Town and its Newspaper (2015) is a 32 page picture book published by Potton & Burton. Newspaper delivery boy Matt McPherson tells the history of his family and his town through the pages of the towns newspaper The New Zealand Times. The newspaper is closed down but Matt keeps it going online here where readers can find out heaps more about our history through links to Te Ara and NZ History online. Changing Times was a finalist for the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award and the Russell Clark Illustration Award in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Terry Teo and the Gunrunners (2015) is a reprint of the 1985 graphic novel to coincide with a new television series that was shown on TV2 in early 2016.
Kerr's paintings feature in Andrew Laking's The Empire City: Songs of Wellington (VUP, 2015).
Last updated September 2016.