Book Awards: the picture book finalists

For the final part of our finalist coverage of this year’s NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, we have quite the treat for you: excerpts of the five Picture Book Award finalists! Here are the first few pages of each book, along with descriptions from the Book Awards Trust. Who’ll be the winner? We find out on Monday, 14 August …

An uplifting story about imagination, and a rather wonderful caterpillar. It has magic and charm, evocative language and rhyme which echoes Margaret Mahy. Fuzzy’s character is built up by great illustrations from Donovan Bixley. With surprising, interesting design and illustrations, Fuzzy Doodle is a book you can read and read again, discovering something new each time.

Fuzzy Doodle

By Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Published by Scholastic NZ

RRP $27.99 (hardback), $17.99 (paperback)

Gwendolyn the penguin has her niche — it just happens to be in the jungle, where she advises others about how to be happy. Her friends adore her, and immediately become concerned when Gwendolyn worries that she is missing out on frosty fun in Antarctica. She needs to find her place in the world, like all of us. The illustrations are a riot of colour and texture, and every page is surprising and fresh.


By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

Published by HarperCollins

RRP $29.99

Every page of My Grandpa is a Dinosaur is laugh-out-loud good. The story of Wanda and her strange family — and the grandpa that nobody believes is a dinosaur — is a classic tale of assuming a narrator is unreliable just because they are a child. Readers will root for Wanda as she attempts to get her friends and family on board with her hypothesis, because of course he is a dinosaur! The illustrations are retro-cool, and the final pages are a hilarious triumph.

My Grandpa is a Dinosaur

By Terry Jones

Illustrated by Richard Fairgray

Published by Penguin Random House

RRP $19.99

From the opening rhyme to the closing line, this story is a flawless tale of a school trip gone awry. The quiet kid reigns supreme in the hippo-hunting stakes, despite the loud-mouths leading the pack. The story has been rhymed innovatively and the illustrations are diverse, three-dimensional, and interesting. The teacher is especially hilarious, as she gradually loses control.

That’s Not a Hippopotamus!

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

Published by Gecko Press

RRP $29.99 (hardback), $19.99 (paperback)

A truly New Zealand story, beautifully told in both English and te reo Māori, with the words placed side by side. A tale is woven of a family with a grandmother and three grandsons. Tahi and Rua are not kind to their odd-bird third brother, Pōtiki, who is a nature-speaker and who could help them if they accepted him. A trip to sea ends in a change of form, with white-background sketches pushing out the dream spirit world in a delicate, wistful way. This book takes you on a journey.

The Singing Dolphin/Te Aihe i Waiata

By Mere Whaanga

Published by Scholastic NZ

RRP $27.99 (hardback), $19.99 (paperback)