Sunday, 15 June 2014

NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young People


Melinda  Szymanik and Des Hunt are two of the finalist in this years NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Junior Fiction Section

What have they been doing since I posted interviews with them back in May?

They have kindly taken time out of their busy (but busy) schedules to send me the following updates.

From Melinda

Image: The Auckland Central Leader May 2014
May was a bit of a wild whirlwind month for me with a school visit in Queenstown, and involvement in both the Dunedin, and Auckland Writers and Readers Festivals.  And the icing on the cake was wending my way back to the residency in Dunedin, via a lovely NZ Post Book Award tour in the central lower North Island. After the excitement of the shortlist announcements in early April it was wonderful to be sharing my book and the journey I took to write it, with young readers from Dannevirke to Napier. I spoke to students ranging from Years 5 to 8, from many schools in the area. Picked up at Palmerston North Airport on Tuesday morning, I was whisked off to my first appointment – a talk to a group of students at Dannevirke Library. From there I was driven to Waipukurau Library for another talk. The next morning I talked to students at Hastings Library and then headed off to Napier Library for the last leg of the tour. 

The librarians who met me, and transported me, who organised and facilitated the talks, were passionate book people, and kind and generous hosts. I felt welcome everywhere I went and the students and their teachers were enthusiastic and attentive. I read the short story that had started the whole thing off. I talked about writing, my book, the requirements of historical fiction and a little bit about myself. We talked about the etymology of words (important in historical fiction) and it was fun to discuss how old some words are like ‘okay’, and ‘plastic’ and ‘geek’ and how meaning can change over time. We talked about juggling the needs of a story, with the facts and truths of history. I told them why I thought it was important to know about the past. They listened, we talked and they asked great questions. For me the tour is one of the most exciting parts of the New Zealand Book Awards. Bringing authors and readers together is what it is all about.

From Des

Image: Barbara Murison
May was a busy month beginning with a Book Council Tour to schools in Hamilton. While this was not directly related to the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards I did discuss the awards and encouraged students to become involved. From Hamilton I moved to Auckland for their Writers’ Festival School’s Day. This is an opportunity for young readers from all over the north to listen to authors talk about their work. Again the day is not directly related to the NZ Post Awards, but did feature as the awards play such an important part in the life of an author.

For the New Zealand Post Book Awards Festival I visited three schools in and around Tauranga: Greerton Village School, Pyes Pa School and Oropi School. We had a fun day. At each school I did a presentation which included my usual science metaphors and ended with the explosion of a large balloon. Many questions were asked and answered. A highlight for me was the chance to see the giant concrete tuatara at Pyes Pa School. The first novel I ever wrote featured a tuatara called Shaky.

Later in that week I had a Skype session with 11 members of the BookBuster’s Junior Book Club at Opunake library. They had read Project Huia  as their celebration of the NZ Post Awards and had lots of questions which I enjoyed answering. Towards the end of the session I drew a number out of a hat and the winner received a signed copy of the book.

Another group that studied Project Huia to celebrate the awards was the Virtual Learning Network Primary School. This school has students from the extreme north of New Zealand down to Stewart Island. I joined them online for half an hour on June 10. They had terrific questions which went much wider than the writing of Project Huia. This session capped off a most-enjoyable month celebrating New Zealand writing for younger readers.

Note: Des sent me some good photos of some of the activities described above but at present I just can't download them. I'll try again in the morning.   BM

And now it is a short seven days to the Awards Ceremony in Auckland when five Finalists become five Winners  (although, of course, everyone is already a winner for getting this far.) I intend travelling to Auckland by bus on Sunday 22nd. Why bus? i am just not a flier except in the case of dire emergency or to go overseas..

Watch this Blog!!

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