Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New Zealand Childrens and Young Adults Book Award Finalist...drum roll...Ghoulish Get Ups!

A happy happy day for quite a few writers and illustrators including myself!

Ghoulish Get Ups has been shortlisted as a non fiction finalist for this year's New Zealand Childrens' and Young Adult Book Awards!

I am so proud to be there, most particularly with The Book of Hat, by Harriet Rowland and published by Makaro Press. This book is very special to me- 20 year old Harriet was the daughter of friends Jan Kelly and John Rowland and sister of Tom.  Jan and I went to school together back in the day. We even did a stint berry picking in Nelson one summer holiday. They are as nice a family as you can get, and, sadly (barely describes it), Harriet passed away from cancer after writing an inspirational blog which the wonderful Mary McCallum (also an old school mate) from Makaro Press turned into a book. It was a team effort and Harriet rallied for the book launch at Park Road Post in a stunning dress. She went back into the hospice the next day. You can read Harriet's blog here: My Experience of Walking the Dog. Absurdly it might seem, I'm more excited about Harriet's book making the list than my own. I guess thats because when people touch your heart, you forget about your own concerns for a time.

So I'm looking forward to the award ceremony with her parents, my colleagues and friends, to be held at Government House on the 13th August 2015. That we have a book award at all is pretty amazing. The long term benefactor, New Zealand Post, pulled out of sponsorship this year and left Booksellers and publishers scrabbling about to find a way to honour the authors and illustrators who work so hard in this industry for so little return. We are grateful that they have found a way to pull it together- pared back to the bone but still a celebration of what we do and the excitement of maybe a gong at the end of the evening, and if not, a lovely certificate to frame and something to put on the CV. And then we'll all go out for dinner. If you see a huge group of slightly mad people at a restaurant in Wellington that night all talking ten to the dozen, and some drinking far too much, that's us (and the too much is me).

Harriet said: 'Life can change in an instant so appreciate everyone. You never know what's around the corner.'  And I appreciate my publishers, Scholastic who keep soldiering on in these uncertain times to produce quality books for kids and who have faith in my work. 

Speaking of soldiering and work, I'm starting on illustrating a new ANZAC book- written by the talented Jennifer Beck. It has a tortoise in it and I am channelling the one I had in England as a kid- Sooty (named after Sooty and Sweep a teddy bear glove puppet that looks nothing like a tortoise). We couldn't bring him to New Zealand with us - though if it had been 1915, we could possibly have stowed a hibernating one in our kit bag...