2016 New Zealand Book Awards

New Zealand Book awards for children and young adultslogo

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards have been announced. The winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award is

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Anzac Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic

Other winners include:

PICTURE BOOK AWARD

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The Little Kiwi’s Matariki by Nikki Slade Robinson

ESTHER GLEN JUNIOR FICTION AWARD

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From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

YOUNG ADULT FICTION

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Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner

RUSSELL CLARK ILLUSTRATION AWARD

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Much Ado About Shakespeare by Donovan Bixley

Visit the site for more award winners including the ones voted on by children in New Zealand.

Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost

Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost

Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Faith and Peter know that it is applesauce time when the first apple falls from the tree outside their house. It’s also the time of year when their Uncle Arthur comes to tell his stories about how he lost his finger. But this year is different, since Aunt Lucy died and Uncle Arthur just isn’t as twinkly as he once was. Faith though is sure that her uncle will come and he does, unsure of his welcome without Aunt Lucy. He sits on the bench under the apple tree with the children, warming up to telling his tales. Maybe this year they will finally learn the truth of his missing finger!

There is a beautiful delicacy in this book, spun together by the masterful poetry of Frost. She holds the hearts of her characters with such tenderness, showing the love of the children for their uncle and also the love of Arthur for his beloved Lucy. The stories all twine together, the family sitting under the tree, long-lasting love, Peter discovering his own first love, and then the remarkable stories that Arthur tells. The entire work is dazzling, moments of life held up and made amazing just for taking the time. This is real world writing at its very best and one of the best verse novels of the year so far.

The illustrations by Bates are filled with emotions. There is the hesitation of Arthur as he arrives. The bend of the back of Faith as she waits under the apple tree. The flow of breeze into her hair. They are filled with whimsy, the stoop of an old back, the twinkle of a storyteller starting to tell, the joy of apples in fall.

Beautiful and amazing, this very short verse novel is a celebration of autumn and families. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea (InfoSoup)

The main character in this book does not want people to just call him a monster. Sure, he may look like a monster. He may sound like a monster. He may live in your closet or under your bed. But how would you feel if everywhere you went people screamed and called you “monster.” After all, he doesn’t go around calling humans names like “little meat snack” does he? He’s a very well behaved and polite monster. Wait, OK, so he IS a monster, but he’d much rather you call him Floyd Peterson instead. Can you do that?

Two picture book masters come together for their best collaboration yet in this very funny picture book that speaks directly to how stereotyping and labels make someone feel. The text is gorgeously written and works beautifully when shared aloud, particularly by someone willing to go full out on the voicing of Floyd. The twist at the end is wonderful as well.

Shea’s art is incredibly playful with Floyd blending into darkness and also disappearing against furry backgrounds. Shea has created a rather friendly and polite monster but also one that has a scary side too, the perfect mix.

Funny and smart, this picture book looks at how names hurt even if you are a monster. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

The Sandwich Thief by André Marois

The Sandwich Thief by Andre Marois

The Sandwich Thief by André Marois, illustrated by Patrick Doyon (InfoSoup)

Marin loves the sandwiches his foodie parents send in his school lunches. Then one Monday at lunch, his sandwich is gone. Stolen! And it was his favorite: ham, cheddar and kale. Now Marin must figure out who stole his sandwich. He has a list of suspects, mostly other children in his class. But soon his list of suspects extends to include teachers and even the principal. As the days go on, his sandwiches continue to be stolen and the situation is becoming dire. It is up to Marin to find a way to solve the case with the help of a food (and chemistry) expert.

The winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French Language, this Canadian import is the first in a series. The entire book is written from Marin’s point of view and is not tidied up to be particularly politically correct. The list of student suspects is subject to this and is rather unfortunate with someone who loves to eat being referred to solely as “big” and a girl in poverty being shown no empathy only suspicion. But those are smaller points in a book that is a huge amount of fun and my hope is that the further books in the series will remedy those missteps.

The format is a mix of graphic novel and regular novel, making it imminently readable for elementary-aged students. The humor is broad and funny as is the final solution to the mystery which is entirely satisfying and has all of the clues clicking nicely into place for the reader. There is a sense of hipness around the book, as it has a unique style that is immensely appealing in its quirkiness.

A strong new series for young readers, get this into the hands of fans of graphic novels who may just love a fast-moving novel with lots of graphics for a change. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Plants Can't Sit Still by Rebecca Hirsch

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch, illustrated by Mia Posada (InfoSoup)

Plants can’t walk or run or even fly, but they don’t stay still either! This jaunty picture book captures the many ways that plants manage to move, even though they are rooted to the ground. They squirm out of the soil. They turn towards the sun. They creep underground and spring up in new places. They can climb walls and even eat bugs. Some fold shut at night while others open only in the moonlight. Then there are the seeds that use all sorts of tricks to move to new places to grow. That’s where they start to move all over again.

As a person with a native garden that overtakes the entire front of house this time of year, I am very aware of plants being able to move! I love the dynamic quality of this book as well as the surprise factor where children will wonder about how plants in their lives are moving since they don’t appear to be doing much at all. Hirsch selects plants that children will experience in their normal lives: milkweed, strawberries, tulips, morning glories, and maple trees. She uses simple language to explain how the plants move and grow, making this a science book that preschoolers will enjoy. Those looking for more detail can turn to a section in the back of the book.

Posada’s illustrations beautifully enhance this picture book and its fresh look at plants. The illustrations are done with cut paper collage and watercolor. They fill the pages with bursts of color, zings of green and plenty of earthiness too. The colors are perfectly chosen to evoke the real nature of the plants like the changing colors of the maple leaves and the burst of fuzz from a dandelion.

A great new book on plants and the surprising ways they move, this is a fascinating read. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony by Ellen Potter

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree The Sea Pony by Ellen Potter

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony by Ellen Potter, illustrated by Qin Leng

Released August 16, 2016.

Piper sets off on her third adventure living on her small island home. When she visits the Fairy Tree, she discovers a strange whistle inside. Unfortunately though, Piper doesn’t want a whistle. She wants a pony! And the first pony  just arrived on the island that day. Piper was also hoping to spend time with her big brother who is home from school, but he isn’t feeling well so Piper decides to try to make him the treat that her mother makes her when she is sick. They don’t turn out quite the same way. When Piper’s dad needs help on his fishing boat, Piper leaps to help and discovers two things along the way, one that has her dreaming of riding something other than a pony and the other that will help her family even more than her loud whistle does.

Potter has just the right feel in the books in this series. Piper is wonderfully engaging as a protagonist. She is imaginative, funny and entirely herself. Even as Piper is making silly mistakes, the book does not make fun of her, rather it laughs along with her and looks at the errors we all make in our lives. It’s a book of empathy, humor and the importance of family and community.

Leng’s illustrations offer young readers a refreshing break from the text, giving them just the right amount of space. They are done in a framed style in either half-page or full-page format. The chapter breaks too are done with style, offering stripes to invite readers to turn more pages and follow the story further.

Another winner in this charmer of a series that is just right for children who enjoy Clementine. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from ARC received from Knopf Books for Young Readers.