• NZ Booklovers


The Storylines Children’s Literature Trust is pleased to announce the winners of its major awards for 2020. Tania Sickling, from Snells Beach, is the winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley Award for her story Grandpa Versus Swing. Sponsored by Scholastic New Zealand, the award carries assurance of publication and a monetary prize. Tania finds inspiration in the chaos and charm of days spent with children and she shapes her ideas into stories in the quiet of the night, playing with meaning and rhythm. Grandpa Versus Swing is inspired by playful grandparents, by the everyday scrapes which become part of family lore, and by the lifelong allure of swings.

Belinda O’Keefe, from Christchurch, is the winner of the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for A Recipe for Disaster. Scholastic New Zealand sponsors the award which carries assurance of publication and a monetary prize. Belinda is a freelance copy editor and proofreader with a passion for language and books. Her picture book The Day the Plants Fought Back was published in 2019 by Scholastic New Zealand. She gets most of her inspiration from her sons, and her youngest’s slime obsession gave her a light bulb moment for the plot of Recipe for Disaster.

Amiria Stirling (Te Whānau-a-Apanui), is the winner of the inaugural Storylines Te Kāhurangi Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira Award, sponsored by Huia Publishing with the cash award for the winner sponsored by Massey University Te Pūtahi-a-Toi: School of Māori Knowledge. Amiria wrote the manuscript of Ngā Ngeru o te Tiriti o Pāia in te reo Māori and entered it into this award to acknowledge Dame Katerina Te Heikōkō Mataira, one of her favourite writers. Figurative, poetic, humorous language is spread throughout the story, to entice children and adults alike to read and love te reo Māori. Amira lives in Wellington.

Cristina Sanders is the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award, sponsored by Walker Books. This award is made biennially, when merited, to the New Zealand author of an unpublished work of fiction for young adults aged 13 and above and carries a monetary prize and assurance of publication. Cristina Sanders grew up in the family’s bookshop in Wellington, where all books were tested on children. She had an early career in the books and then in business. She now joyfully writes more-or-less full time, but occasionally runs away to sea on tall ships.

Janine Williams is the first winner of the Storylines Janice Marriott Mentoring Award, for her manuscript Holding the Horse. Janice has generously sponsored this special Storylines award, prompted by her concern to build the quality and number of junior fiction manuscripts that successfully achieve publication. As a child Janine entertained her siblings with illustrated storytelling, and these days she hones her writing skills at local workshops. She is currently writing picture books for children and junior fiction. Janine lives in Northland surrounded by hills and fruit trees.

The Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award, in memory of the late Hamilton children’s writer Gaelyn Gordon, goes to writer Janet Slater and illustrator Christine Dale for The Big Block of Chocolate published by Scholastic. The award is given for a book which has been continuously in print for more than five years and established itself as a favourite among New Zealand children and families.

“These awards acknowledge previously unpublished writers and illustrators, and have often been the stepping stone to further success in children’s literature or illustration. We are delighted to announce these winners on the date we would otherwise have been holding our annual Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards event,” says Storylines chair Christine Young.

“Although we are unable to meet the writers and illustrators in person, I’d like them all to know that the children’s literature community celebrates with them today, and congratulates them on their achievements. We look forward to marking their success at an event later in the year, when gatherings are again possible. I’d like to congratulate them all on Storylines’ behalf and wish them the best in their careers in children’s literature, whatever direction they may take.”

The 2020 Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards Day was scheduled to take place on Sunday 5 April 2020. Due to the risks around community transmission of Covid-19, the decision was made to indefinitely postpone the event.