Book Awards: the illustration finalists

As part of our finalist coverage of this year’s NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, we have some exclusive insights into the process of each of the five Russell Clark Award for Illustration Award finalists. They’ve given us drafts and sketches, along with some final images, and it’s fascinating!

Thanks to the Book Awards Trust for the book descriptions.

The story of 17th century Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, one of the first Europeans to come to Australia and New Zealand, is brought to life in meticulous, hyper-realistic digital paintings, which capture the tenacity and determination of this adventurer, and the complexities of the ship and the wild oceans that Tasman and his crew faced on their journeys. Finely detailed maps are the perfect touch as endpapers.

Abel Tasman: Mapping the Southern Lands

Illustrated by Marco Ivančić

Published by Scholastic NZ

RRP: $27.99

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Bobby the canary, whose ability to detect dangerous gases saved the World War One tunnellers he accompanied, is the bright spot in accomplished illustrations that use a natural palette of khaki, sandy yellows and grimy browns. The warmth of the relationships and the personality of each soldier is captured, gritty textured paint replicates the dirt of tunnel walls and the rubble of the broken town, and a clever use of layout adds drama to the tunnel scenes.

Bobby, the Littlest War Hero

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Published by Puffin (Penguin Random House NZ)

RRP: $20.00

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Myths and legends from around the world featuring witches, dragons and mythical creatures are brought to splendid life in a range of comic formats. Each tale has its own distinct style and colour palette. A skilful use of different viewpoints and a range of frames and layouts make for lively reading and bring freshness and vitality to the familiar and lesser known tales, providing a rich visual storytelling experience.

Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts

Illustrated & written by Craig Phillips

Published by Allen & Unwin

RRP: $32.99

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Jellyfish is a thoroughly original hero, a fragile but tenacious aquatic creature, who wafts and swirls through the ocean currents, encountering a diverse cast of characters, from the steely swordfish and unusual luminous fish to a splendidly pink giant squid. The pages are cleverly designed, changing orientation as we dive into the inky darkness of the watery depths, and young readers will love the glow-in-the-dark cover highlights.

I Am Jellyfish

Illustrated & written by Ruth Paul

Published by Puffin (Penguin Random House)

RRP: $20.00

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Clean lines and flat colour are used to capture the dramatic adventures of the trail-blazing New Zealand pilot, Jean Batten. Much is revealed with minimal detail: a few lines transform a face from happy to mournful, young to old. A diversity of page layouts, from the dramatic blue-grey opening double-page spread to vignettes in white space, provide momentum and spotlight significant moments in time.

Sky High: Jean Batten’s Incredible Flying Adventures

Illustrated by Phoebe Morris

Published by Puffin (Penguin Random House NZ)

RRP: $25.00

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