New Zealand’s oldest book prize awarded today

August 11, 2009 at 11:06 am | Posted in Book Awards, Books, LIANZA Awards, Library_News, New Zealand | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s oldest book prize, the Esther Glen Award, was presented at the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards ceremony in Wellington last night (Monday 10 August).

The Esther Glen Award was established in 1944 and is presented to the author whose work is considered a distinguished contribution to fiction for children. The prize was presented to Wellington writer Fleur Beale for her young adult novel Juno of Taris (Random House). The judges said Beale “excels in descriptions of life as a feisty teenage girl. Juno is a remarkable character, the reader delights in her triumphs and commiserates in her disappointments.”

Dunedin based author and illustrator Robyn Belton received the Russell Clark Award for Herbert: The Brave Sea Dog (Craig Potton Publishing). The Russell Clark Award was established in 1975 and celebrates a distinguished contribution to illustrated children’s books. The judges could imagine “librarians uming and ahing about whether to place this book in the true story, non-fiction, or picture-book sections of the library. We thought the connectivity of text and illustration resonates with readers of all ages and the superb endpapers intrigue the reader. An entirely satisfactory and uplifting ending that touches all reader’s hearts.” Belton first won the Russell Clark Award in 1985 for The Duck in the Gun, written by Joy Cowley.

For the first time the Te Kura Pounamu Award has been won by a novel. Mihiroa by Peti Nohotima with illustrations by Misty (He Kupenga Hao I te Reo) caught the judge’s attention for its skill in capturing a teenage perspective. “From texting to teenage jealousy, from budding relationships to the intensity of sporting competition, one of the most captivating features is how the language is used to develop the characters and their interactions. The delightful line drawings add to the story’s attraction too.” This award was established in 1995 and celebrates works written in te reo Māori for children and young people.

Radio New Zealand host Veronika Meduna and science historian Rebecca Priestly were the recipients of the Elsie Locke Award for Atoms, Dinosaurs and DNA (Random House). The judges noted that the book had developed out of a 2006 National Library science exhibition, and delighted in the insights it gives to the lives of the sixty eight New Zealand scientists profiled. “Did you know that entomologist George Hudson did his field work in a three piece suit? Beneath his suit he wore head to toe pink woolen underwear. As librarians we knew that this book filled a gap in our collections.”

Together the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards celebrate the unique contribution New Zealand authors and illustrators make to our cultural heritage and national identity. Award recipients are selected from a shortlist of five titles and receive a medal or taonga and $1,000 prize money.

Megan Button

Communications & Publications Coordinator

LIANZA

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