Book Awards: the illustration finalists

This year’s NZCYA Awards coverage kicks off with the Russell Clark Award for Illustration Award finalists! We have some exclusive insights into the process of illustrating each book, including working sketches, storyboards, decadent interior spreads, and even a photograph of some real life inspo – scroll down to see!

Thanks to the Book Awards Trust for the book descriptions.

Dozer is a characterful and very recognisably cat-like cat — with his fluffy-footed stalking of prey, sometimes inelegant washing techniques, and contortionist sleeping positions. A thoughtful approach to composition can be seen on each spread, with lots of white space used around vignettes of Dozer and his human family, and illustrations that exploit the properties of pencil and watercolour to create smoky, claustrophobic drama in the climax of the story.

Dozer the fire cat

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

Published by Scholastic NZ

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A fabulous representation of extended whānau (as well as Santa’s little green elves), with gorgeously composed, incredibly child-friendly illustrations. It would take from one Christmas to the next to exhaust all the details on each page — can you spot the koru on almost every page? How many different snacks can you count throughout the book? The result is joyous, hilarious and utterly charming.

Santa’s Worst Christmas

Illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

Published by Huia Publishers

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Cam lives in the mountains and wishes he could see the sea. He sets out to see where a trickle of water leads, and follows it as it grows into a creek, a stream, and finally a river flowing into the sea. Kimberly Andrews’ detailed illustrations using muted, natural colours capture the magic of this journey, and allow readers to soar along with Cam towards the sea — weaving between trees, high above the forest or underwater with the frogs.

Song of the river

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

Published by Gecko Press

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The impacts on Pacific peoples of Tupaia’s journey with Captain Cook are sensitively explored in this large-format book. Careful use of point-of-view gives or takes power from the characters in different ways as we move through the story. The limited colour palette serves as a shortcut towards drama and emotional impact, while the pared-back illustrations are sophisticated, striking, dramatic and, ultimately, incredibly moving.

The Adventures of Tupaia

Illustrated by Mat Tait

Published by Allen & Unwin

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This super-size book is full to the brim with lovingly rendered creatures of Aotearoa, in Gavin Bishop’s inimitable watercolour style. The backgrounds for each spread are stunning and depict different ecosystems, from wetlands to dark watery depths, and from night-time forest skies to cool, clear mountain air. The compositions strike a masterful balance between “poster” and movement. These are the type of wildlife illustrations children might be tempted to tear out of the book to Blu-Tack to their wall.

Wildlife of aotearoa

Illustrated and written by Gavin Bishop

Published by Penguin Random House

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Follow our 2020 NZCYA Awards coverage here! All new articles related to the awards will be tagged “NZCYA 2020”.