Topic: Little Blue Penguin Story Wins Best Non-Fiction Book Award

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A story from the Rena Disaster, Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill, written by Tauranga author and librarian Debbie McCauley, has won the Best Non-Fiction category in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. This bilingual title is the second book for children produced by Tauranga's Mauao Publishing.

Archived version here.

The winners of the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced at a ceremony at Wellington’s Government House on Thursday, 13 August at an event hosted by their Excellencies The Governor-General of New Zealand Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae. The Awards promote excellence and provide recognition for the best written and illustrated books for children and young adults published by New Zealand authors each year. 

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Winners Poster

The 2015 Judging Panel was convened by Bob Docherty, children’s book reviewer and literary consultant; author and children’s bookshop owner, Annemarie Florian; and teacher-librarian Fiona Mackie; with the assistance of Te Reo Māori language adviser, freelance Māori writer and editor Stephanie Pohe-Tibble. 

Annemarie Florian commented on Mōtītī Blue; “Every detail in this outstanding book has been lovingly laboured over – timeline, maps, acknowledgements, additional information. It has an evocative cover, resonating endpapers, thoroughly thoughtful design. And the heart of the story – the fate of Mōtītī Blue – nimbly engages the reader in both of our spoken languages for deep and recursive reading. Hats off to this small independent publisher for caring enough, for being persistent enough to get it so right. Awesome.”

In their report, the judges wrote of the non-fiction entries overall; “The Non-Fiction entries were particularly impressive, almost in defiance of the pressure for some libraries to dispense with their non-fiction resources, in favour of electronic sources of information. It is fair to say that the wide variety of the non-fiction entries presented information that was superior to any single electronic source of information. The publishers are to be commended for the range of material published.”

Awaiting Debbie on her return to work at Tauranga City Library was a large bouquet of flowers and a celebratory staff morning tea. “I was thoroughly spoilt”, said Debbie, “It was very nice to be supported by colleagues and library management”. The library also gave away a copy of Debbie’s book via a competition on their Facebook page to mark the win. The winner of the free copy was Kate Spake.

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Tauranga City Library flowers

Debbie’s book was designed by Sarah Elworthy who has been freelancing in the publishing industry both in New Zealand and the UK for many years while raising her family. “I had a tremendous amount of support from Sarah”, says Debbie, “the collaboration was vital to the end result”. Sarah has designed a wide range of books, from natural history to cookbooks, educational titles to history, and has a particular passion for children’s books. She has worked on a number of award-winning and shortlisted books, including At the Beach, The Moon & Farmer McPhee, Piano Rock and It’s in the Post

Tamati Waaka translated the book into Te Reo Māori. Tamati is a native speaker of Te Reo Māori who began writing children's stories in Māori in 2007. Recently Huia Publishers produced his short novel Te Whatukura o Tangaroa on behalf of The Ministry of Education. An avid kapa haka performer, and past radio and television host, Tamati is also involved with Te Reo Wainene o tua, an entity that actively participates in the revival of Maori Story-telling techniques. Tamati is a licensed Māori interpreter and translator.

The cover of Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill is a painting by Tauranga artist Elliot Mason. Elliot's work is focussed on creating environmental awareness and portraying the beauty of our natural surroundings so fits in well with the them of Mōtītī Blue.

Sales of  Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill have seen a large upswing since the book was announced as a finalist. Recently copies were sent off to Wellington Zoo who are going to stock them in their gift shop, and also to Australia. Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill was also a finalist in one of the five categories of the LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand) book awards earlier this year.

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Debbie McCauley

Bob Docherty says that such impressive books meet our natural hunger to immerse ourselves in a story or a subject and really connect – an opportunity that is often neglected in our haste to simply uplift information from the internet or an online book. “The quality of all the entries was outstanding and this is an encouraging sign for the longevity of the book in its printed form. All the submitted books were highly appealing, tangible and tactile, and a real delight to read and digest. As judges we were privileged to have had the opportunity to read and judge all these books. The demand for stunning books is clearly there, and the future of publishing in New Zealand looks healthy.”

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are organised by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, and administered by Booksellers NZ. The Awards are sponsored by Creative NZ, Book Tokens Ltd, Copyright Licensing Limited New Zealand, the Fernyhough Education Foundation and Nielsen Book. Publishers have also supported the awards this year.

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Winners



Great Richness and Diversity in This Year’s Finalists in the NZ Book Awards For Children and Young Adults (9 June 2015).

Judge's Report, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015 (17 August 2015).

Mandy Hager's Singing Home the Whale wins 2015 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year (12 August 2015).

Maori feature strongly in book awards (Waatea, 14 August 2015).

Mauao Publishing (Press Release, 18 August 2015).

Media resources for New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults (4 June 2015).


This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

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Little Blue Penguin Story Wins Best Non-Fiction Book Award