Finalists announced for NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2019

by The Listener / 06 June, 2019

Miriama Kamo. Photo/TVNZ

The best books of the past year for Kiwi kids have been named as the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults announces its finalists for 2019.

TVNZ current affairs presenter Miriama Kamo is among the finalists announced today in the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

The Sunday host’s book The Stolen Stars of Matariki/ Ngā Whetū Matariki i Whānakotia, which was illustrated by Zak Waipara, is nominated in the Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori and the Best First Book Award.

Kamo’s debut was one of 164 entries for the awards which have been whittled down to a shortlist of 29.

Among the finalists are seasoned writers and illustrators including Mandy Hager, Stacy Gregg, Eileen Merriman, Barbara Else, Donovan Bixley, Gavin Bishop and Des Hunt.

The winners of each of the main six categories – Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustration and te reo Māori – take home $7500 and are then in the running to be named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, with a further $7500 prize money. The Best First Book prize is worth $2000.

“The quality of submissions was impressive this year,” says convenor of judges Crissi Blair who praised the depth of the subject matter amongst the finalist titles with a strong focus on books about our world and what’s happening to it.

“The finalist books don’t underestimate what children are capable of understanding – both intellectually and emotionally,” she says.

Children were included in the judging process. Judges took a category of books into schools, where the criteria for identifying a good quality book were discussed, before students selected titles to read and selecting their favourites. These results were then shared with the whole judging panel and considered when making finalist decisions.

“Including the young readers in the judging process had the dual benefit of informing the judges about children’s and teens’ opinions, but also developing the knowledge of the readers, rendering them more capable of interacting with their books in a meaningful way in the future,” says Blair.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony at Te Papa on August 7.

The finalists for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

ArticleGalleryModule - Picture books

Picture Book Award


Mini Whinny: Happy Birthday to Me, Stacy Gregg, illustrated by Ruth Paul (Scholastic NZ)

Puffin the Architect, Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)

Things in the Sea are Touching Me, Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton (Scholastic NZ)

Who Stole the Rainbow? Vasanti Unka (Penguin Random House)

ArticleGalleryModule - Junior Fiction

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction


Search for a Kiwi Killer, Des Hunt (Tōrea Press)

The Dog Runner, Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)

The Mapmakers' Race, Eirlys Hunter, illustrated by Kirsten Slade (Gecko Press)

The Telegram, Philippa Werry (Pipi Press)

Whetū Toa and the Magician, Steph Matuku, illustrated by Katharine Hall (Huia Publishers)

ArticleGalleryModule - Young adult fiction

Young Adult Fiction Award


Ash Arising, Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Invisibly Breathing, Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House)

Legacy, Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers)

The Rift, Rachael Craw (Walker Books Australia)

ArticleGalleryModule - Elsie Locke

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction


Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women, Barbara Else (Penguin Random House)

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao, Debbie McCauley, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna and translated by Tamati Waaka (Mauao Publishing)

New Zealand's Backyard Beasts, Ned Barraud (Potton & Burton)

Whose Home is This?, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Potton & Burton)

ArticleGalleryModule - Russell Clark

Russell Clark Award for Illustration


Cook's Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook, written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, illustrated by Ant Sang, written by Michael Bennett (Penguin Random House)

Oink, written and illustrated by David Elliot (Gecko Press)

Puffin the Architect, written and illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, illustrated by Josh Morgan, written by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers)

ArticleGalleryModule - Te reo

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori


Ngā Whetū Matariki i Whānakotia, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara, translated by Ngaere Roberts (Scholastic NZ)

Te Haka a Tānerore, Reina Kahukiwa, illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Mauri Tū)

Te Hīnga Ake a Māui i Te Ika Whenua, written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley, translated by Darryn Joseph (cultural adviser) and Keri Opai (Upstart Press)

ArticleGalleryModule - best first book award

Best First Book Award


Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Bullseye Bella, James T Guthrie (Scholastic NZ)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Slice of Heaven, Des O'Leary (Mākaro Press)

The Stolen Stars of Matariki, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara (Scholastic NZ)

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