2016 Awards

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

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    Anzac Heroes

    Published by Scholastic New Zealand

    Written by Maria Gill
    illustrated by Marco Ivancic

    Written by Maria Gill and illustrated by Marco Ivancic

    The 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year is simply stunning, with gold-standard production values that support the tremendous amount of care, respect and aroha imbued in the book. It is a book for readers of all ages, and incredibly important. It brings to life our people who risked everything, left everything, lost everything, as they participated in World War I and II, and tells their stories with carefully chosen detail, never overwhelming the reader, but not skimping on detail either. There are so many added extras that give richness and fullness to the book, and those extras, along with the meticulous research and the superb illustrations that bring these heroes to life, create the perfect package. It can be read from start to finish, but is just as rewarding if readers choose to dip in and out. No matter how a reader chooses to approach it, they will learn an amazing amount about the people who represented, fought, and sometimes died for us.

Category Winners

Picture Book Award

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    The Little Kiwi’s Matariki

    Published by David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

    Written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

    Written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

    The skilfully woven story of Little Kiwi, snug in her burrow, woken by the glow of the moon on a special night. Little Kiwi takes the reader on a rapid journey, rousing the forest creatures from their slumber as she urges them to come and see the most wonderful sight. English and te reo Māori are blended together naturally, and comfortably. There is tension and excitement in both text and illustration, which work in unison expressing urgency and anticipation, and revealing the distinct personalities of Kiwi’s friends. The landscapes are superb, from the utter black of the forest night, to the deepest green of native plants, to the pink-streaked sky and pebbled foreshore. There are extra details and layers — the face of the moon illuminating the pathway for Little Kiwi, the shadows of small creatures and the textures and movement of the text echoing the creatures as they hurry towards the light. The finale, of course, is the glittering appearance of Matariki, followed by useful information on the celebration and the constellation itself. This is a marvellous introduction to Matariki, a picture book to be enjoyed by young readers, or to share at story time.

Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award

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    From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle

    Published by Penguin Random House (Longacre)

    Written by Kate De Goldi

    Written by Kate De Goldi

    Surprising, gripping, heart-breaking and ultimately incredibly moving, this novel stood out right from the start. Kate De Goldi takes the unexpected setting of ‘a street where we live’, which at first seems so ordinary, and infuses it with a colourful cast and an air of mysterious intrigue, gently luring the reader in to observe the heart and soul of the community in which auteur Barney lives. The familiar patterns of everyday life become something extraordinary in De Goldi’s hands, with a deftly woven complex narrative and beautifully crafted prose. This book is packed with warmth, wonderful language, rich and witty observations, compelling characters and layers of message and meaning. Why should we care about the people we live amongst? What are their stories? And their secrets? How do we rub along together? Even when it is in the grip of a terrible tragedy, the community of people beautifully brought to life by De Goldi’s text provide real comfort, not only to each other but to the reader as well — an incredible achievement, and one that is immensely satisfying.

Elsie Locke Non-fiction Award

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    Anzac Heroes

    Published by Scholastic New Zealand

    Written by Maria Gill
    illustrated by Marco Ivancic

    Written by Maria Gill and illustrated by Marco Ivancic

    An incredibly well-researched, written, and illustrated portrayal of ANZAC heroes from WW1 and WW2. The quality of the production and design is of the highest standard, and the collaboration between author and illustrator is outstanding. The author brings us 30 ANZAC heroes — from spy and soldier to nurse, fighter pilot, mine disarmer and stretcher bearer — and covers the various forces including the Maori Battalion. Each hero has a double-page account detailing their background, service and actions during their war, the medals they received and personal timeline. In addition, information about the unit or service to which they belonged, or the battle in which they fought, are included. The stories are not fact sheets; rather they are personal, engaging, inspiring and sad, and they follow each person through to their lives after the war and their deaths. Together, author and illustrator have created a totally absorbing work of non-fiction that is impossible to put down. The inclusion of the contents page, glossary, maps, timelines, the medal room, a bibliography, comprehensive index, and the overall professional layout, makes this book the standard to aspire to in a non-fiction work for children and young adults.

Young Adult Fiction Award

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    Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo

    Published by Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Straus Giroux)

    Written by Brian Falkner

    Written by Brian Falkner

    The winning book draws the reader into a world both familiar and unfamiliar: a battle between England and France, at Waterloo, with a plot altering twist – dinosaurs as weaponry! This cleverly constructed alternate history has everything going for it :a fresh take on an historic event, appealing and believable characters, and a plot that means you cannot put it down. Fifteen-year-old Willem lives with his mother in Gaillemarde, a Belgian village, after the death of his stage magician father. Willem has inherited his father’s abilities, which prove to be very useful when he and friends are in the forest and are cornered by smaller ‘saurs’. Willem manages to control the saur long enough for them to escape, and ends up taking a very small saur to raise as a pet. When people go missing and the village comes under threat from a very large saur, Willem steps up to save everyone, unwittingly alerting the French, and eventually Napoleon, to his abilities. With his mother captured by the French, and Willem trying to escape to the British soldiers, the reader is drawn into a tense race against time. The convincing plotting will make readers believe that Napoleon actually had saurs at the battle of Waterloo, and the cliff-hanger ending leaves readers desperate to find out more.

Russell Clark Illustration Award

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    Much Ado About Shakespeare

    Published by Upstart Press

    Illustrated and written by Donovan Bixley

    Illustrated and written by Donovan Bixley

    Donovan Bixley’s expert use of light and colour and his control of his medium have resulted in dynamic, witty art that not only supports the text and provides added insights into his subject’s life, but also references classic artworks and pays homage to past notable illustrators such as Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker. Well thought out groupings, expressions, body language and the presence and placement of physical objects create layered, emotionally complex tableaux – such as the poignant scene that accompanies the story of the passing of Shakespeare's young son Hamnet, or the sly humour of the illustration alongside the page discussing Richard III and Shakespeare's start in the theatre. Each illustration tells a story that rewards close examination, providing a rich experience for readers and the added bonus of a lovingly curated lesson in art history. These illustrations are a technical tour de force. Much Ado About Shakespeare is a tremendous achievement.

Te Kura Pounamu Award

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    Whiti te Rā!

    Published by Huia Publishers

    Written by Patricia Grace
    translated by Kawata Teepa
    illustrated by Andrew Burdan

    Written by Patricia Grace, translated by Kawata Teepa and illustrated by Andrew Burdan

    Whiti te rā! shares the history behind New Zealand’s most famous haka, Ka Mate. Composed by Ngāti Toa chief, Te Rauparaha, Ka Mate is a celebration of life over death drawn from the experience of escaping his enemies. In Whiti te rā! stunning artwork and simple language are used to convey an inspiring message of overcoming challenges. Suitable for all ages, this book is a riveting read that will capture hearts and minds. The language is simple with a clear message, allowing the story to flow easily with stunning illustrations that support the story brilliantly. Te Kura Pounamu judges agreed that Whiti te rā! stood out for its excellence in te reo Māori, quality of illustrations, and relevance to Māori children and young adults today. Whiti te rā! is a distinguished contribution to Māori language literature for young people.

Best First Book

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    Allis the Little Tractor

    Published by Millwood-Heritage Productions

    Written by Sophie Siers
    illustrated by Helen Kerridge

    Written by Sophie Siers and illustrated by Helen Kerridge

    This year’s best first book represents the perfect blend of text and illustration, and gives the reader insight into a way of life that may be unfamiliar for many. It shows us a uniquely New Zealand environment, as well as a dose of the ‘number 8 wire’ spirit. The story has a nostalgic feel without being old fashioned, and the personification of Allis via illustration is cleverly subtle. The illustration and text are understated, gentle, warm, and complement each other perfectly. Allis wants nothing more than to be useful again, like the farm’s big new tractor, and Toby wishes that he could help Allis achieve that dream, enlisting Uncle Jack to investigate repairing and restoring her. The author and illustrator have successfully created a heartfelt tale, where the reader, too, hopes that Allis and Toby’s dream will become a reality. Readers will look forward to more in the series.

Hell Children’s Choice Awards

Picture Book Award

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    The House on the Hill

    Published by Scholastic New Zealand

    Written by Kyle Mewburn
    illustrated by Sarah Davis

    Written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Sarah Davis

    ‘Tis a cold, dark night, and deathly still. Dare two ghosts brace the night-time chill? Pray follow, dear reader – read on if you will, to uncover the secret of the house on the hill. This award-winning author and illustrator duo combine their talents in a deliciously spine-tingling story.

Junior Fiction Award

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    The Girl Who Rode the Wind

    Published by Harper Collins

    Written by Stacy Gregg

    Written by Stacy Gregg

    When Lola’s grandmother Loretta takes her to Siena, Italy, for the summer, Lola learns of her family’s history of heartbreak and adventure, stretching back to the Second World War. An epic, emotional story of two girls and their bond with beloved horses, the action sweeping between Italy during the Second World War and the present day.

Non-fiction Award

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    First to the Top

    Published by Penguin Random House (Puffin)

    Written by David Hill
    illustrated by Phoebe Morris

    Written by David Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris

    How did Ed, a shy boy from New Zealand, grow up to be the world’s most famous mountaineer and adventurer? This picture book tells the story of Sir Edmund Hillary and his climb to the top of Mt Everest. It’s a story about courage, skill and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who dreams of reaching the top.

Young Adult Fiction Award

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    Stray

    Published by Walker Books Australia

    Written by Rachael Craw

    Written by Rachael Craw

    Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who can live and who must die. She has one option: to run.

Te Reo Maori Award

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    Te Hua Tuatahi a Kuwi

    Published by Illustrated Publishing

    Written and illustrated by Kat Merewether
    translated by Pānia Papa

    Written and illustrated by Kat Merewether and translated by Pānia Papa

    Kuwi is a young and confused kiwi, alone with her newly laid egg. She has never had an egg before ... She knits a scarf, sings a waiata, and takes it out to play, but Egg doesn't seem impressed. When the egg begins to crack, Kuwi thinks she hasn’t done a very good job – what can she do?