Tuesday 24 June 2014

NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

I have loved being shortlisted for this year's NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults - a very special year to be shortlisted: the last of NZ Post's long and faithful sponsorship - and it was a fabulous evening on Monday night. It felt very special to be there in the company of amazing writers and illustrators like Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Knox, Fleur Beale, Fifi Colston, Melinda Szymanik, Donovan Bixley and many others - of course not forgetting Vasanti Unka, the winner of the picture book section and overall winner of Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, whose astonishment and delight was a joy to behold. If you don't know Vasanti's work, or haven't yet seen The Boring Book, you can see some pictures from it on her blog here. I'm very proud that Vasanti once illustrated one of my plays for the School Journal.

I felt even luckier to be there, given the judges' comments about the very high standard of non fiction entries this year, and I loved what Joy Cowley said on accepting the Junior Fiction award for her novel Dunger. In her usual warm and generous manner, Joy said that all the books that had made the shortlist were winners - and that was how I felt!

I had spent Monday morning at Devonport Primary School talking to three different groups of students who were all wonderful listeners and came up with some great questions, some of which had me stumped for an answer. Then I came home to this equal wonderful feedback - getting thank you's like this is one of the best things about being a writer:

  • I am here at Devonport school.And why am I at Devonport school you ask? well Philippa werry is coming! I know what your thinking,`I can't believe she's coming! “Here she comes!” “act cool” “we’re on the air”
  • thank you for coming to our school.I loved the information about your book,s. my favorite book was the one about the the zoo and the chimps tea party.i hope you come again . 
  •  Thank you so much for coming and showing all your books and telling us other stuff. I really appreciate it. P.S. Come back SOON!!
  •  Thank you for coming to Devonport primary school. I really like your non fiction story's they really fascinate me.
  •  Thank you so much for coming to our school/Devonport primary school. I Wonder if you could maybe write a new book. And send it to our class you are sooo awesome.
  •  Thank you so much for coming to Devonport primary school.It was awesome having you here. I'm definitely going to read one of your books
  •  Hi. I Really appreciate you coming to our school. I come from Devonport school. I love your books.
  • thank you for coming to devonport primary school. I really appreciated it. I have been wirting a few stories that I was hoping to show you. Here is one called the final ninja
  •  thank you for comeing to Devonport i liked the Harbour bridge story please come back again

And my favourite:

  •  Hi.thank you for coming to Devonport primary school. When we came to see you in room 3 you talked like an angel.
So I am very happy to be home, and I may not have won an award, but I have a halo! What more could you ask??

Pupils and teachers at Devonport Primary School head for the shelters during an air raid drill, 1941-42. Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: War Effort Collection, PA-Coll-0783-2-0057
(This is one of the images I chose for the back of my Lighthouse family book.) 

The statue of the "untidy soldier", also in Devonport - a photo of this memorial appears in my Anzac Day book.