2010 Ceremony: an affair with flair and the warmth of community

New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Ceremony 2010

Fluffy clouds and high flying pastel balloons as table centrepieces set the ‘power of the imagination’ theme for this year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2010. It was an elegant setting with guests sitting around tables, but as always the warmth of the children’s literature community gave the event a friendly atmosphere.

Photos of kids and authors enjoying the Festival over the previous week introduced each section with a montage of candid photos of the creative workshops, author interaction and inventive events.

Television’s Miriama Kamo, hosting the evening, brought the same convivial feel to the presentation, even calling on her partner to come to the stage and make sure prize recipients did not come to grief on an invisible step…

Judges Rosemary Tisdall, Ruth McIntyre and Trevor Agnew gave crisp and empathetic comments on the nominated titles and applause never faltered.

First up prize-winner was Janet Hunt for E3 Call Home, winner of the non-fiction award for her book on godwit migration, in a section of five very strong titles.James Norcliffe’s The Loblolly Boy took the junior fiction section for his imaginative novel of children swapping identities, but the judges did ask for more young reader chapter books to be available for this age group.

The Crossing, first of a futuristic trilogy from Mandy Hager was first among near equals in the notable Young Adult fiction category.

For Picture Books an Honour Award went to our best known author, Margaret Mahy, along with editor Tessa Duder and illustrator David Elliott for The Word Witch, a collection of Mahy’s poems for children. Accepting the award, Mahy made the point that children’s literature is not an area whose importance is reduced because it is for children, but a major part of the whole literary spectrum – an assessment greeted with enthusiastic applause.

Old Hu-Hu is a book about losing someone dear, with author Kyle Mewburn so overcome by his win that he was almost speechless… He recovered of course, but his words came out between pauses where he just smiled and shook his head in I-can’t-believe-this amazement. “Fancy winning against the holy trinity of children’s literature in this country,” he marveled. Rachel Driscoll, the illustrator, told the audience that the illustrations were “literally created in pencil, paint and tears.”

When Old Hu-Hu went on to win the New Zealand Post Children's Book of the Year later in the evening, Mewburn’s smile became even wider and his look of astonishment increased. Children’s Commissioner Dr John Angus presented the award.

“Kia Ora and Namaste” were the greetings from India where Best First Book Author, David Hair for The Bone Tiki is currently living.

Who would win the Children’s Choice Award? Any bookseller in the country could make an accurate prediction and you weren’t wrong: it was bestseller The Wonky Donkey. The Te Anau Rugby Club is where it all began, said author Craig Smith accepting the award, but mysteriously didn’t tell the audience more. Can booksellers now hope for a rhyming rugby picture flat for World Cup Year?