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Esther Glen, after whom New Zealand’s oldest children’s book award is named, would have appreciated the humour in many of the finalists in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards, held in Wellington tonight.
Convenor of judges Pene Walsh said the winner of the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction, Barbara Else’s The Travelling Restaurant, was outstanding. Like all of the finalists for this award, it respected young readers’ ability to understand humour.
“We think Esther would be having a quiet chuckle over the selection as she was an innovator of her time bringing amusement into her stories,” said Ms Walsh, who manages Gisborne District Libraries.
The Esther Glen award is one of six awarded by the Library and Information Association (LIANZA) each year.
MC for the Awards, and a past winner of the Esther Glen award, Kate De Goldi, dedicated the awards to Margaret Mahy, who won the award seven times .
Judge Colleen Shipley, Librarian at Marlborough Girls College, said the judging panel was impressed by the quality of novels published for teenagers over the past year, but David Hair’s Pyre of Queens stood out.
“The freshness and originality of the plot was appealing and we became totally absorbed in the story. Strong male and female characters; action; history and a touch of romance means there is something for everyone in this book,” she said.
Like many of the books entered in the Young Adult Award, Pyre of Queens was part of a series.
“While the appeal of trilogies and series is high for teenagers it makes the job of a Librarian easier if a book can also stand on its own, like this one.”
Mrs Shipley said New Zealand was also following the international trend of many young adult books being set in an apocalyptic or dystopian world.
Kathy Aloniu, Librarian at Dunedin City Libraries, said it was sad to see so few entries for the Elsie Locke award for non-fiction.
“From my years of taking book talks with children, I can tell you that quality non-fiction, presented in an interesting, vibrant, sometimes quirky or fun way, is absolutely pounced on by children.”
Ms Aloniu said the winner of the Elsie Locke Award, Nice Day for a War, by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott, would be a valuable resource for schools and libraries.
“This is a book that people immediately want to share with others and I had groups of friends and library folk crowded around poring over every cartoon, document, postcard, poem, and illustration.”
The Russell Clark Award for Illustration was awarded post-humously to Malcolm Ross, for Rāhui.
“Malcolm Ross has gifted an aura of another layer of intonation in these paintings that we can only describe as mysteriously manly, a joyous celebration of young men at play, as well as gripped in grief,” said Ms Walsh.
Alice Heather, convenor of judges for the Te Kura Pounamu, for which the te reo Māori version of Rāhui was shortlisted, said the story tackled a difficult subject matter.
“The story is told with respect and aroha without being sentimental. The illustrations open the story up to the future and invite discussion.”
Rāhui won the inaugural Librarians’ Choice award, voted by librarians across the country.
Ms Walsh said the medal was a chance for the profession to give something back to the best authors in the nation.
“We are dedicated to connecting children with books. We wanted to celebrate the authors by gifting our appreciation to one each year from this year forth. Thank you all so much for providing touchstones for young people.”
Te Kura Pounamu, for a book in te reo Māori, was awarded to Ngā Taniwha o te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Author Moira Wairama retells the legend of Whataitai and Ngake, two taniwha whose bid for freedom from their lake shaped the current landscape of Wellington harbour.
Ngā Taniwha o te-Whanganui-a-Tara also won the Te Tohu Taurapa for te wahanga pikitia (picture book), one of four prizes awarded by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the organisation for Māori Librarians.
Ms Heather, Māori Advisor for School Services at the National Library in Auckland, said it was disappointing to see less than half the usual amount of books in te reo Māori entered for the awards.
“There weren’t any non-fiction titles, which may be due to the lack of Ministry of Education contracts to produce non-fiction for schools. For children to grow up with te reo Māori as their first language it is essential to have the world around them explained in their own language. They need non-fiction books to do this.”
Te Poiwhana by Te Kauhoe Wano won the Te Tohu Ngā Kete e toru for te wahanga pukapuka paki (fiction). Ms Heather said the book, about a soccer-mad boy whose father wants him to play rugby, had a great message for young Māori about following their dreams.
She said it was an honour to award the Te Tohu Pounamu, which recognises excellence that would not otherwise be recognised in the other award categories, to translator Dame Katerina Mataira.
“Last year I acknowledged the wonderful contribution that Katerina Mataira had made to the Māori literary world at the time of her passing. Well her contribution continues because we would like to award this to Katerina one last time for her translation of the book Kei Wareware tātou. This is the seventh year Katerina has been a translator for a book short-listed in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards.”
LIANZA received over 110 nominations for the 2012 awards.
The LIANZA Children’s Book Award 2012 Winners:
LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal
The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else, (GECKO Press). Else lives in Lower Hutt and works as a writer, editor and literary agent.
LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award
Pyre of Queens by David Hair, (Penguin NZ)
Hair lives in Wellington and writes around his work in financial services. He was inspired to write this novel by the time he spent living in India.
LIANZA Illustration Award - Russell Clark Award
Rāhui by Chris Szekely and Malcolm Ross, (Huia). Szekely lives in Wellington and is Chief Librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library. He worked with Ross (now deceased) 20 years ago in the School Services department of the National Library. This book is based on their memories of holidays at the beach with whānau.
LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal
Nice Day for a War by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott, illustrated by Chris Slane (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd). Slane is a cartoonist. Elliott is a comedian, historian and biographer. This book tells the story of Elliott’s grandfather during World War I. Slane and Elliott live in Auckland.
Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)
Ngā Taniwha i te-Whanga-nui-a-Tara by Moira Wairama and Bruce Potter, (Penguin NZ).
Wairama is a storyteller,writer, poet, playwright, puppeteer and teacher who loves to bring Māori legends to life. This myth was first told to her by Tipene O’Regan and she has been telling it to audiences for 30 years. She has only seen the myth referred to on paper, so she was inspired to write it down to ensure future generations of Wellingtonians could read it. Wairama lives in Wellington.
The winner of each category was awarded a medal or taonga and $1,000.
Librarians’ Choice Award
Rāhui by Chris Szekely and Malcolm Ross, (Huia).
Te Ropu Whakahau (organisation for Māori Librarians)Award Winners
Te Tohu Taurapa for te wahanga pikitia (picture book)
Ngā Taniwha i te Whanga-nui-a-Tara by Moira Wairama and Bruce Potter, (Penguin NZ).
Te Tohu Ngā Kete e toru for te wahanga pukapuka paki (fiction)
Te Poiwhana by Te Kauhoe Wano and Andrew Burdan, (Huia).
Te Tohu Pounamu
Kei Wareware tātou translated by Katerina Mataira, written by Feana Tu’akoi and illustrated by Elspeth Alix Batt (Scholastic). Katerina Mataira died in 2011, shortly after being created Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to Māori language.
Te Tohu Hoani Te Whatuhoro Jury for te wahanga pukapuka pono (non- fiction)
Not awarded due to lack of entries.
The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards 2012 are supported by Fishpond.co.nz, Caffe L’affare and The Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie, Wellington.
Read more about the Children's Book Awards
Esther Glen was a journalist, children’s writer and community worker who lived in Christchurch. She died in 1940 and the Esther Glen award was established in her honour in 1945. Her book Six little New Zealanders is being translated into German this year as part of the celebrations around New Zealand being the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.