New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2021: Children’s Finalists!

The announcement of the finalists for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is always an extremely exciting time of year for us! This year saw a truly huge number of books entered by authors and illustrators from around Aotearoa — and the suite of books chosen for the shortlist are by turns beautiful, quirky, profound, funny, and all-in-all could only have come from here.

To help you make up your mind about which books you think should win their categories, we thought we’d share the full list with here, with links to all the books on our catalogue. Just click on the title and you’ll be able to reserve the next available copy to read. But get in quick — we don’t think they’ll stay on the shelf for very long!

PS — head over to the Teen Blog to find out about the books that have made the shortlist in the Young Adult Fiction category!

Picture Book Award

Judges’ comments: “This year’s Picture Book Award shortlist beautifully combines delicate illustrations that connect to and enhance sometimes delicate themes. There are laughs, tears, sighs (both contented and wistful) to be had in equal measure.”

Hare & Ruru : a quiet moment / Shallcrass, Laura
“This is the story of Hare, who struggles with an un-named mental malady self-described as ‘noise’. Noise could be runaway thoughts, voices in Hare’s head, or loud feelings and general anxiety. Hare goes on a journey to try and find a solution and finally gives up. Just when Hare thinks there’s no hope a friend, Ruru, flies calmly down and gives a suggestion. Hare ultimately feels better after doing three things: * Talking to someone; * Focusing on breathing; * Connecting to nature.” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Māori!

Hound the detective / Andrews, Kimberly
“Meet Hound, a brilliant detective who ALWAYS solves his case. But this latest trail of clues has him perplexed … what has he missed? This gorgeous, multi-layered and engaging whodunnit by an award-winning writer has a delightful surprise at the end. Readers will love studying each action-packed illustration, poring over the details of Hound’s secret passages and map, spotting the adorable animals lurking in the pictures, and finding the caterpillar hidden on every page.” (Catalogue)

Kōwhai and the giants / Parker, Kate
“Kōwhai first appeared from the golden glow of a beautiful flower … and the voice was the rain and the sea and the cry of a bird. Follow Kōwhai as she discovers a tiny seed of hope and rebuilds a great forest.” (Catalogue)
The hug blanket / Gurney, Chris
“A heartfelt exploration of the unconditional love between a child and their grandparent. A book to help children understand grief. It smells like sunshine. It sounds like whispers. It looks like rainbows… It feels like love.” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Māori!

This is where I stand / Werry, Philippa
“Provides a glimpse into the life of a soldier immortalised as a statue, reflecting the passage of time. The soldier on a war memorial tells the story of what he has seen over the years. Although the soldier is based on the ‘Untidy Soldier’ statue in Devonport, it could be any statue in any town. The story begins in a modern day setting, then moves back to WWI, WWII to finish again in contemporary times.” (Catalogue)

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Judges’ comments: “The books vying for the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction Award presented the judges with eclectic plotlines and endearing characters, and they struggled to narrow down to a shortlist from the well-crafted titles.”

Across the risen sea / Bren MacDibble. / MacDibble, Bren
“Across the Risen Sea is an action-packed, compelling and heartfelt middle-fiction adventure, set in a post-climate change landscape, from the multi-award winning author of How to Bee.” (Catalogue)

Charlie Tangaroa and the creature from the sea / Roxborogh, Tania Kelly
“On a beach clean-up, thirteen-year-old Charlie and his brother, Robbie, find a ponaturi, a mermaid, washed up on a beach. An ancient grudge between the Māori gods Tane and Tangaroa has flared up because a port being built in the bay is polluting the ocean and creatures are fleeing the sea. This has reignited anger between the gods, which breaks out in storms, earthquakes and huge seas. The ponaturi believes Charlie is the only one who can stop the destruction. So begins Charlie’s journey to find a way to reunite the gods and discover why he is the one for the task.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook!

Red edge / Hunt, Des
“Twelve-year-old Cassi Whelan and her dad have just moved into a repaired house on the edge of Christchurch’s Red Zone. Although Cassi was only four when earthquakes decimated Christchurch, her memories still haunt her. An obsessive runner, she finds the wide-open spaces of the cleared Red Zone suit her perfectly. However, she becomes suspicious about strange comings and goings at the broken-down house next door. A chance meeting with a boy who lives on the other side of the house, who is a tech geek, leads to them setting up a surveillance system to investigate what’s happening.” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook!

The Inkberg Enigma / King, Jonathan
“Miro and Zia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of a mysterious castle. Miro lives in the world of books ; Zia is never without her camera. The they meet, they stumble upon a secret. With Zia determined to discover more, a reluctant Miro is pulled into a real-life adventure” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook!

The tunnel of dreams / Beckett, Bernard
“In an abandoned house at the end of their street, twin brothers Stefan and Arlo discover a young girl hiding in its dusty shadows. Alice needs their help as her twin sister is locked in a cage suspended high above a mysterious mine in a strange parallel world and she asks an impossible favour. Will they meet her on the next full moon at the entrance to a tunnel they both know doesn’t exist? Except that it does…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook!

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Judges’ comments: “The judges found the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction a particularly strong category this year, stating ‘to say there is something for everyone is an understatement; this list has everything, for everyone!'”

Egg & spoon : an illustrated cookbook / Tylee, Alexandra
“A beautiful illustrated cookbook for children–and their families–that celebrates imagination and pleasure in cooking. A fun and modern cookbook for families packed with recipes for meals, snacks, treats, and a whole lot of humour. Alexandra Tylee’s lively inner ten-year-old knows exactly what food appeals to children and how to talk to kids about food. She trusts them to choose flavours and handle equipment in this joyful book that will set them on a lifetime love of healthy cooking and eating. Giselle Clarkson’s illustrations are salivatingly delicious and subversively playful.” (Catalogue)

Mophead tu : the Queen’s poem / Marsh, Selina Tusitala
“Selina is invited to perform for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. But when a colleague calls her a ‘sellout’, Selina starts doubting herself. Can she stand with her people who struggled against the Queen … and still serve the Queen? From the sinking islands in the South Seas to the smoggy streets of London, this is a hilariously thought-provoking take on colonial histories and one poet’s journey to bridge the divide.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand disasters : our response, resilience and recovery / Gill, Maria
“Inspiring stories of courage, resilience and determination in the face of disaster New Zealanders have endured phenomenal natural and human disasters throughout the ages. This inspiring book documents some of these key moments in our history and, more importantly, how we responded and grew stronger; what changes/improvements were made as a result. Cyclones, tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, fires, aeroplane crashes, pandemics and other disasters are just some of the many themes covered in this comprehensive, vibrantly illustrated account.” (Catalogue)

North and south / Morris, Sandra
“A beautiful non-fiction picture book about animals around the world. This non-fiction picture book takes readers around the world through the months of the year, looking at seasons in both the northern and southern hemisphere. It focuses on a species in each hemisphere for that month, e.g. March in the northern hemisphere is polar bear cubs in the Canadian Arctic and also saltwater crocodiles in Australia. There are a range of countries, habitats, species and animal activities included.” (Catalogue)

You’re joking : become an expert joke-teller / Moffatt, Tom E
“Tired of no one laughing at your jokes? You don’t have to be. Joke-telling is a skill, like playing the piano or juggling live hedgehogs. This book teaches you that skill with easy-to-follow instructions and simple exercises. With 101 hilarious jokes (and lots of practice), you’ll soon get the laughter and applause you deserve. Without ever needing to juggle hedgehogs.” (Publisher summary courtesy of Wright Laugh Books)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Judges’ comments: “The judges faced an outstandingly strong and large pool of entries for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration. The finalists are characterised by a diversity of styles and media, but the books all have in common an expert use of colour and line to communicate emotion and pace and skilfully add texture to the narrative.”

Hare & Ruru : a quiet moment / Shallcrass, Laura
“This is the story of Hare, who struggles with an un-named mental malady self-described as ‘noise’. Noise could be runaway thoughts, voices in Hare’s head, or loud feelings and general anxiety. Hare goes on a journey to try and find a solution and finally gives up. Just when Hare thinks there’s no hope a friend, Ruru, flies calmly down and gives a suggestion. Hare ultimately feels better after doing three things: * Talking to someone; * Focusing on breathing; * Connecting to nature.” (Catalogue)

Read this book in te reo Māori!

I am the universe / Unka, Vasanti
“I am the Universe, an infinite space of glittering galaxies. It’s a starlit journey through space that will lead you to a wonderful planet brimming with all kinds of life – including yours. This stunning story demonstrating the scale of the Universe and our place in it was created specially for children aged three years and up by the award-winning author-illustrator Vasanti Unka, who lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Universe.” (Catalogue)

Kōwhai and the giants / Parker, Kate
“Kōwhai first appeared from the golden glow of a beautiful flower … and the voice was the rain and the sea and the cry of a bird. Follow Kōwhai as she discovers a tiny seed of hope and rebuilds a great forest.” (Catalogue)

Moon & Sun / Szymanik, Melinda
“Moon is sad. She feels dull next to her bright happy sister, Sun. She hides away at night until Sun tells Moon how special she is and how she would love to share the sky with her. This beautifully illustrated children’s book explains how our diffrerences are our strengths, and how together we can make the world a better place!” (Catalogue)

Te Uruuru Whenua o Ngātoroirangi / Winitana, Chris.
“This is the story, told in te reo Māori, of the arrival of Ngātoroirangi in Aotearoa and his exploration of the landscape and subduing of kaitiaki, such as the guardian of Tarawera, Tamaohoi; the guardian of water on Kaingaroa, Torepatutai; and the King of the Patupaiarehe, fairy folk, Ririō. This adventure story traces the places Ngātoroirangi travelled through, such as Waimahunga, the large spring where he conducted his cleansing ceremonies, and Te Whārua o Ngātoroirangi, where his footprints are still visible in the land today.”

(Publisher summary courtesy of Huia Publishers)

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award

Judges’ comments: “The finalists in the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written entirely in te reo Māori will appeal to a broad range of abilities. Te reo in its simplest form will lift the language for beginners, while there are also titles with a depth of language to send the imaginations of confident speakers soaring. The judges were pleased to see a marked increase in the number of books written in te reo Māori, rather than translated from English.”

Aroha te whai ora : he mahere piropiro mā te tamariki / Phillips, Craig
“Nau mai, hoake tātou ko Aroha, i a ia e kaupare ana i te taiatea, i te mataku, i te māharahara, me te anipā, ki ana tukanga māmā ka taea e te katoa. Come along on a journey with Aroha as she wards off nervousness, fear, worrying thoughts and apprehension, with simple, yet effect tools that everyone can use.” (Catalogue)

Also read this book in te reo Pākehā!

Mihi / Bishop, Gavin
“This beautiful baby book introduces ideas of me and my place in the world in the shape of a simple mihi or pepeha… Repeating colours and shapes show the connections between waka, mountain, and iwi through to mama, papa, and the baby reader.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pīpī kiwi / Taylor, Helen J.
“Young Kiwi Iti waits impatiently for his baby sister, Pīpī Kiwi, to hatch. Will she ever arrive? When will she be ready to play with him? His father Kiwi Nui explains to him that love takes time. Ahea RAWA pao ai te hua? This Māori-language story is for all children eagerly awaiting a new sibling.” (Catalogue)

Also read this book in te reo Pākehā!

Ngake me Whātaitai / Ngaia, Ben
“A traditional story told in te reo Māori from the perspective of the Kāhui Maunga people about Ngake and Whātaitai. These two taniwha inhabited Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington Harbour, long before the ancestral migrations. The story tells how the shape and landscape of Wellington, its harbour and the Lower Hutt area came about because of the actions of Ngake and Whātaitai.” (Catalogue)

Te Uruuru Whenua o Ngātoroirangi / Winitana, Chris.
“This is the story, told in te reo Māori, of the arrival of Ngātoroirangi in Aotearoa and his exploration of the landscape and subduing of kaitiaki, such as the guardian of Tarawera, Tamaohoi; the guardian of water on Kaingaroa, Torepatutai; and the King of the Patupaiarehe, fairy folk, Ririō. This adventure story traces the places Ngātoroirangi travelled through, such as Waimahunga, the large spring where he conducted his cleansing ceremonies, and Te Whārua o Ngātoroirangi, where his footprints are still visible in the land today.” (Publisher summary courtesy of Huia Publishers)

Best First Book Award

Judges’ comments: “The finalists for the Best First Book Award left the judges reassured that the future of children’s literature in New Zealand is in good hands. In fact, the standard is so high, that four of the books are also finalists in one or more of the main categories.”

Hare & Ruru : a quiet moment / Shallcrass, Laura
“This is the story of Hare, who struggles with an un-named mental malady self-described as ‘noise’. Noise could be runaway thoughts, voices in Hare’s head, or loud feelings and general anxiety. Hare goes on a journey to try and find a solution and finally gives up. Just when Hare thinks there’s no hope a friend, Ruru, flies calmly down and gives a suggestion. Hare ultimately feels better after doing three things: * Talking to someone; * Focusing on breathing; * Connecting to nature.” (Catalogue).

Read this book in te reo Māori!

Kōwhai and the giants / Parker, Kate
“Kōwhai first appeared from the golden glow of a beautiful flower … and the voice was the rain and the sea and the cry of a bird. Follow Kōwhai as she discovers a tiny seed of hope and rebuilds a great forest.” (Catalogue)

The Inkberg Enigma / King, Jonathan
“Miro and Zia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of a mysterious castle. Miro lives in the world of books ; Zia is never without her camera. The they meet, they stumble upon a secret. With Zia determined to discover more, a reluctant Miro is pulled into a real-life adventure” (Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook!

The midnight adventures of Ruru and Kiwi / Scott, Clare
“Ruru and Kiwi invite you to their midnight forest feast, in this delightful twist on the tale of the Owl and the Pussycat. Drawing on a cast of nocturnal New Zealand creatures, with award-winning illustrations by Amy Haarhoff, Clare Scott’s story imagines Edward Lear’s famous nonsense poem taking place in a moonlit forest in Aotearoa.” (Catalogue)

The pōrangi boy / Kino, Shilo
“Twelve-year-old Niko lives in Pohe Bay, a small, rural town with a sacred hot spring and a taniwha named Taukere. The government plan to build a prison here and destroy the home of the taniwha has divided the community. Some are against it, but others see it as an opportunity. Niko is worried about the land and Taukere, but who will listen to him? He’s an ordinary boy who’s laughed at, bullied, and called pōrangi, crazy, for believing in the taniwha. But it’s Niko who has to convince the community that Taukere is real, unite whānau in protest against the prison and stand up to the bullies.” (Catalogue)

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