Gecko Press is absolutely delighted that Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, won the NZ Post Children’s Book of the Year award and the Junior Fiction award, announced in Wellington 21 May, 2008.
Snake and Lizard is the first original New Zealand title from independent publisher Gecko Press, which specialises in publishing award-winning children’s books from around the world, translated into English.
The Honourable Judith Tizard presented the award to Joy’s husband, Terry Coles, on her behalf.
Of the award, Joy says she remembers a time when writing for children was considered to be the occupation of people who had failed at adult writing.
“The NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, and previous sponsors, have given children’s literature in this country rightful status. Clearly this is good for the author's of childrens books; but I believe that the greater benefit goes to the children of Aotearoa. The award validates them as readers who have their own authority and who are deserving of standards of excellence.”
Publisher Julia Marshall says Joy Cowley was very generous in entrusting the little book of stories about friendship to Gecko Press, a new and boutique children’s publisher.
“Joy suggested Gavin Bishop as illustrator. It was an honour to work with two of New Zealand’s greatest writers and illustrators and so we tried to make the best book we possibly could.”
Marshall says the heart of the book is summed up in the dedication to Joy’s husband Terry, “who knows that friendship is not made out of sameness but the accommodation of differences.”
The judging panel comprising Mr Owen, who is national advisor for the National Library’s schools collection, writer and illustrator, Fifi Colston, and award-winning novelist, Vince Ford, who noted that complementing the writing were the book’s superb production values.
‘From dust cover to endpapers, Gavin Bishop’s exquisitely detailed illustrations added another rich dimension to both the book’s characters and its American South West setting.’
Gecko Press is distributed in New Zealand by Random House Publishers.
The category winners and honour awards recipients in the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2008 are:
Junior Fiction & 2008 New Zealand Post Book of the Year
Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)
Tahi – One Lucky Kiwi by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Ali Teo & John O'Reilly (Random House New Zealand)
Honour Award: To The Harbour written and illustrated by Stanley Palmer (Lopdell House Gallery)
Which New Zealand Spider? by Andrew Crowe (Penguin New Zealand)
Honour Award: Reaching The Summit by Alexa Johnston with David Larsen (Penguin New Zealand)
Salt by Maurice Gee (Penguin New Zealand)
Honour Award: The Sea-wreck Stranger by Anna Mackenzie (Longacre Press)
Best First Book Award
Out of The Egg written and illustrated by Tina Matthews. (Walker Books)
Children’s Choice Award
The King’s Bubbles by Ruth Paul (Scholastic)
The winner of each category was awarded $7,500. The winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award takes home an extra $7,500. The winner of the Best First Book and the Children’s Choice Award receive prize money of $2,000 each. The honour awards were presented in three categories this year. These awards are discretionary and are awarded in recognition of particular features in each book. For the first time this year, all honour award recipients received a monetary award of $500.
New Zealand Post has been a steadfast sponsor of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults since 1997. Its partnership has seen the awards flourish, growing from strength to strength over the last decade. New Zealand Post’s support of these awards reflects their deep commitment to promoting literacy and literature throughout the country. Working closely with Booksellers New Zealand, New Zealand Post and other dedicated segments of the community actively encourage New Zealand children to read and enjoy books. For those with limited access to new works, New Zealand Post also purchases and distributes books by the New Zealand Post Book Awards finalists by supporting the Books in Homes programme each year.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and are administered by Booksellers New Zealand.