Seven finalists from HUIA in children’s book awards

HUIA books have been selected in five categories in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The five categories are Picture Book, Illustration, Young Adult Fiction, Te Kura Pounamu and Best First Book.

‘There has been a bumper crop of fantastic children’s literature in the last few years. We are thrilled to see the prominence of Māori literature in this year’s awards finalists and see them acknowledged. It is a hugely competitive list, and each category is strong,’ says Eboni Waitere, Executive Director at HUIA.

Santa’s Worst Christmas, a picture book written by the talented staff at HUIA, Pania Tahau-Hodges and Bryony Walker, is one of five finalists for the Picture Book Award. This story is full of humour and celebrates Aotearoa Christmas traditions and the creativity and imagination of children.

The vivid illustrations in Santa’s Worst Christmas have also been recognised. First-time illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White is a finalist in two categories: the Russell Clark Award for Illustration and the Best First Book Award.

A finalist in the Young Adult Fiction Award is the bestselling novel The History Speech by Mark Sweet. English teacher and Read NZ reviewer Carola Crawford said, ‘This novel works on many levels. It is a meditation on the nature of friendship and relationships; a description of life in a New Zealand small town in the late 1960s; a powerful exploration of the themes of war, injustice and prejudice (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ageism and more); and a mystery story. Surprisingly, with all that going on, it is also a great read.’

HUIA has two finalists in the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori. The first book is Te Kirihimete i Whakakorea, the reo Māori edition of Santa’s Worst Christmas translated by Kawata Teepa. The second book is Tio Tiamu by Kurahau. This story encourages children to think about difference and the impact of their behaviour. It embraces a world that shows empathy, care for others, love and forgiveness.

The illustrations in Tio Tiamu are exquisite, and first-time illustrator Laya Mutton-Rogers has been recognised for her talent in the Best First Book category with The Smelly Giant, the English edition of Tio Tiamu. The judges commended the thoughtfulness and pared-back colour palette, which encourages a strong emotional response from readers to the mood of the page.

The HUIA titles are 5 of the 29 finalists selected from 178 entries submitted for the 2020 awards.

The winners will be announced in a virtual presentation on the evening of Wednesday, 12 August.