Judges announced for 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

As entries continue to stream in for the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, an expert panel of judges that includes writers, editors, booksellers and librarians has been announced, and is preparing for a summer full of reading that will put their vibrant and varied skills to the test.

Writer, poet and editor Jane Arthur will convene the English language panel, which will also include children’s and youth librarian Alan Dingley; bookseller, writer and editor Briar Lawry; children’s author, book reviewer and writer of stories for young people for the stage, radio and screen Steph Matuku; and children’s specialist bookseller and former school teacher Charlotte McKay.

Longtime kaitiakipukapuka Māori for Hastings District Libraries Moana Munro has been re-appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the library and information profession, to convene the panel judging the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written or translated into te reo Māori. She is joined by Cellia Joe-Olsen, Tumuaki Tuakana (Immediate Past President) of Te Rōpū Whakahau and Francis Leaf, collections advisor at the Auckland University of Technology’s city campus library.

The English language judges will read and appraise an expected 150 or so entries in five categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-fiction (the Elsie Locke Award) and Illustration (the Russell Clark Award). They will select five finalists in each category, as well as up to five finalists for a Best First Book Award and then a winner in each category. The overall winner, the Margaret Mahy Award for Book of the Year, will be decided by both panels.

Jane Arthur, who was also a judge in the 2019 awards, says she is honoured to be invited to convene the expert 2020 panel. "The judging panel knows children’s books inside and out, from the craft of writing to knowing how and why certain books connect with readers. We’re an energetic bunch and I suspect we’re all very much in touch with our ‘inner child’, so our judging discussions are going to be fun, enlightening and rigorous."

School children will also have a voice in the deliberation process, with plans to further develop the system of student advisory panels that judges have consulted with in the early stages of the judging process over the past two years.

Submissions for the 2020 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2019 and 30 March 2020. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2019, is Thursday 12 December 2019. More details about how to enter can be found here: http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults/how-to-enter/

Category finalists will be announced on 4 June 2020 and the awards ceremony will be held in Wellington on 12 August 2020, preceded by a series of large-scale finalist author events under the Books Alive banner in several centres around New Zealand.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council and Nielsen Book.

For more information about the 2020 judges, see below or go here: http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults/2020-awards/judges/

Any queries about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults should be directed to Awards Administrator Joy Sellen at childrensawards@nzbookawards.org.nz.  


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Convenor of judges Jane Arthur is an editor, writer and poet who has worked in the book industry for over 15 years, in both bookselling and publishing, and was on the judging panel for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. She is co-founding editor of The Sapling (www.thesapling.co.nz), a website about children's books that won the 2018 New Zealand Book Industry Special Award. She has a Masters in English Literature, a Masters in Creative Writing and a Diploma in Publishing. Jane won the 2018 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize, and her first poetry collection, Craven, was published in 2019. She was awarded a 2020 Emerging Writer Residency by the Michael King Writers Centre. She lives in Wellington with her family.

Alan Dingley has over 15 years of experience working in Children’s/Youth libraries, formerly as youth librarian at Palmerston North City Council’s City Library Youth Space, and currently as librarian at Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School. A proud member of REALM (Reading & Literacy Manawatū), Alan has presented workshops at LIANZA, SLANZA, REALM and MLA, covering varied topics such as ‘How do we get boys to read’, ‘Prescription Pad Literature’, ‘How do we get youth to read? and ‘Story Building: Get that story out of there!’. He also writes about and reviews children’s books. In 2019 Alan coached the PNINS Kids’ Lit Quiz team to their first national title, and then took the team to the World Final in Singapore, placing second in the world.

Briar Lawry is a bookseller, writer and editor who calls Tāmaki Makaurau home. She has been involved in the book trade for some 13 years, ever since she started as a part-time bookseller in a children's department in her last year of high school. She has studied publishing, English literature and is currently on her reo Māori haerenga at AUT. In recent years, Briar has also racked up experience in communications and marketing. She currently works at Little Unity, the children's annex of Unity Books Auckland, and is one of three co-editors of New Zealand children's literature website The Sapling.

Steph Matuku (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Toa, Te Ati Awa) is a business writer and book reviewer, and writes stories for young people for the stage, page, radio and screen. Her first play, A Story of Rona, won a Playmarket award, and she was awarded New Zealand Writers Guild Seed Grant funding for her first feature film script, How Tūī and Kae Met Their Mother. Steph’s two debut books, Flight of the Fantail and Whetū Toa and the Magician, were selected for the Storylines Notable Books List in 2019. Whetū Toa and the Magician was also shortlisted for the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction in the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Taranaki.

Charlotte McKay has had a lifelong association with stories – from a childhood of books, to a life as a professional storyteller (aka actor and singer), to a primary school teacher, and her current role as children’s specialist bookseller at the University Book Shop in Ōtepoti Dunedin. She is now able to actively combine her love of performing, education and books in what she thinks might just be her perfect job. Charlotte works with teachers, children, and the community providing expert advice and assistance on everything from effective story-telling to the next book to fall in love with. She firmly believes that her job is not to sell books, but to sell the love of reading and she gives time to community projects with this in mind, including helping to organise Ignition Kids Book Festival.

Ko Tākitimu, Ko Kurahaupō ngā waka. Ko Rongomaiwahine, Ko Ngāti Kahungunu ngā iwi.
Moana Munro is Te Kura Pounamu Award convenor judge for a third year, and has been kaitiakipukapuka Māori for Hastings District Libraries for over a decade. She is conscious of the changing dynamic within communities and is striving to strengthen tikanga, supporting or improving the delivery of Māori services and resources. Moana is a proud member of Ngā Kaiwhakahau o Te Rōpū Whakahau, representing Te Mātau a Maui (East Coast, Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa regions).

Ko Whakapunake ki runga. Ko te komititanga o ngā awa o Kaitarahae o Ruakituri me Hangaroa ki raro, ka puta ko te awa o Te Wairoa-Tapoko-Rau. Ko Hinekorako te tipua. Tihei Kahungunu.
Cellia Joe-Olsen is the Tumuaki Tuakana or Immediate Past President of Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body that represents Māori engaged in Libraries, Culture, Knowledge, Information, Communication and Systems Technology in Aotearoa. She is a graduate of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori the Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language, and is active within language revitalisation circles. Cellia works for the Alexander Turnbull Library, and is also involved in numerous library-related national and international bodies with an indigenous focus. She is passionate about finding aids in te reo Māori to help people, children in particular, find books of interest to them.

Ko Ngatokimatawhaurua te waka. Ko Hokianga te moana. Ko Putahi te maunga. Ko Te Uri taniwha te hapū. Ko Ngāpuhi te iwi.
Francis Leaf is a 2019 recipient of the Robyn Hakopa Te Reo Māori award for promoting te reo and tikanga within the library profession. As a collections advisor at the Auckland University of Technology, she has 21 years of experience working in tertiary libraries, holding a number of different roles. She is the newest member on Ngā Kaiwhakahau o Te Rōpū Whakahau, representing Te Hikuroa rohe, and brings experience, passion and inspiration to this position.