28 February 2008

New Zealand Post Book Awards Finalists

The news was out a few days ago, easing the anxious wait for all those authors, illustrators and publishers out there waiting to find out who the NZ Post Book Awards finalists are. The following will now have until May to agonize about who the final winners will be. The judges will also have to deal with all those who consider their taste in books superior and can't understand why they picked these ones and left other treasures out. The fact of the matter is that there are three judges and none take their task lightly, these choices will have been made after much discussion and thought. I, myself, had made a few predictions about who might be on the final list and only chose six of the final 20. I'll be back to inspect the unexpected ones to see if I can appreciate why they were chosen.

And so to the finalists...

Picture Book

The King’s Bubbles by Ruth Paul (Scholastic New Zealand)

Out of the Egg by Tina Matthews (Walker Books) - I was surprised at this as Tina lives in Sydney, though born in New Zealand. It sent me back to the eligibility criteria. I'm sure one of the rules used to be that you had to be resident in NZ for the past two years, but that must have been in the 'old days'. Now if you are NZer by birth you are elegible.

Rats! by Gavin Bishop (Random House New Zealand) - Yay! This is one of my top favourites, and so good to see the publisher produce a large hard-back, with French -fold dust jacket and all, it somehow gives the book more dignity and weight all round.

Tahi – One Lucky Kiwi by Melanie Drewery, Ali Teo (illus), John O’Reilly (illus) (Random House New Zealand) - some confusion here as I had thought this title would be in the non-fiction category - in fact when I checked library catalogues there were an assortment of choices - non-fiction, picture book and junior fiction.

To the Harbour by Stanley Palmer (Lopdell House Gallery) - more a work of art than picture book. Stanley Palmer is one of New Zealand's top artists and he's taken a step back into his childhood and created gorgeous monoprints to illustrate. The exhibition of the original artwork (large works, with all the text, and other content, backwards) is well worth checking out. There's been a bit of debate around as to whether this book is indeed for children, I say let's let the children themselves decide, just because it's from the past and told in old-fashioned language don't underestimate their ability to appreciate and enjoy the piece of Palmer's boyhood life.

Non Fiction

A Mini Guide to the Identification of New Zealand Land Birds by Andrew Crowe, Dave Gunson (illus) (Penguin New Zealand). Well here's the question - how do you define what makes a non-fiction book a children's book. I love that you can fit it in your pocket but...

Reaching the Summit by Alexa Johnston, David Larsen (Penguin New Zealand). Very timely with the death of Sir Ed, although apparently chosen before that event.

Weather Watch New Zealand by Sandra Carrod, Karsten Schneider (illus), Richard Gunther (illus) (Reed New Zealand). Good on you Reed, for putting out this champ before they powers-that-be shut you down. (In case you're not aware, Reed Publishing - in the year it celebrated 100 years of publishing - was sold into the Pearson group and the Reed name can no longer be used. The new name of Raupo will take over from here and will be managed from the house of Penguin).

What is a Fish? by Feana Tu’akoi (Scholastic New Zealand). I don't know how the judges could pick just one out of this fabulous series.

Which New Zealand Spider? by Andrew Crowe (Penguin New Zealand)

Junior Fiction

Dead Dan’s Dee by Phyllis Johnston (Longacre Press)

The Dumpster Saga by Craig Harrison (Scholastic New Zealand)

The Mad Tadpole Adventure by Melanie Drewery, Jenny Cooper (illus) (Scholastic New Zealand)

My Story Sitting on the Fence: The Diary of Martin Daly, Christchurch 1981 by Bill Nagelkerke (Scholastic New Zealand)

Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley, Gavin Bishop (illus) (Gecko Press).

Young Adult Fiction

Salt by Maurice Gee (Penguin New Zealand). One of my favourite reads for the year.

The Sea-wreck Stranger by Anna Mackenzie (Longacre Press)

Tomorrow All Will Be Beautiful by Brigid Lowry (Allen & Unwin) - Quite a lot of the content of this book has been published before (in magazines & anthologies) so wondered about elegibilty because of this - but it has obviously passed the test. This will be a treasure for many a teenage girl.

The Transformation of Minna Hargreaves by Fleur Beale (Random House New Zealand)

Zillah by Penelope Todd (Longacre Press)


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