What's exciting the judges in the NZ Post children's Book Awards this year?
The finalists have been announced for the 2012 awards and they represent the best books published in New Zealand in the past year.
In the picture book category - there are five books of interest to the parents of preschoolers. The finalists are:
|Stomp! by Ruth Paul (Scholastic) a Dinosaur Follow-the-Leader Story for one to two year olds. It features dinosaur mayhem in bold, picturesque illustrations and it's perfect to be read aloud.|
|The Cat's Pyjamas by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic) is a fun story for two and three year olds and features cat whose pyjamas give him delightful dreams until one night he wears his monster pyjamas to bed…|
|Waiting For Later by Tina Matthews (Walker Books), for slightly older children, shows what kids can do if left to their own devices. Nancy is always being told "not now, later" when she asks for something so she goes off to find her own fun in a large, old tree.|
|Rahui by Chris Szekely and Malcolm Ross (Huia) is in fact two entries - one in Maori and one in English. A potentially controversial book for preschoolers about a family holiday gone that goes wrong when a boy drowns at the beach.|
Chris Szekely's book Rahui discusses the rahui (ritual prohibition) that is put on the area as the family mourns the death of a young boy. The illustrations are works of art in their own right but is this a book suitable for preschoolers?
Gillian Candler, convenor of judges says this title could well have appeal for six and seven year olds who will better understand the subject matter. She doesn't see it as a controversial choice.
"It's hard to pigeon-hole. Young children may see it as a story about a holiday were something happens but then things come back to some sort of normality. Older children will understand more what's happened.
"It's a very evocative story."
Gillian and her fellow judges read all 130 submissions several times over to come up with the 21 finalists across all categories.
So what were the judges looking for?
For picture books in particular they chose books that would benefit from being read aloud again and again. They wanted books that children would find just as interesting on the second reading, as they picked up more of the detail. And they also looked for a good match between the text and illustration.
"A whole lot of things come together in a book to make it stand out," says Gillian.
This year's finalists are not big names in children's literature - some are first-time author, which, says Gillian, shows there's heaps of emerging talent out there.
Winners will be announced on May 16.
Published: 3 March 2012