Monthly Archives: June 2013

And the winners of the 2013 NEw Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are …

Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year
Into the River
by Ted Dawe
Mangakino University Press

Best Non-Fiction
100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa
by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere
Te Papa Press

Best Junior Fiction
My Brother’s War
by David Hill
Penguin Group NZ

Best Picture Book
Mister Whistler
by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop
Gecko Press

Children’s Choice
by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly, Scholastic NZ

Honour award, Junior Fiction
The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series
by Barbara Else
Gecko Press

Best First Book
by Hugh Brown

Green Bay congratulates all winners.

Find a detailed report on


Green Bay is done – for now

It’s done. Green Bay has reviewed all the finalists. Take a peek at the display wall at Green Bay Primary libary:

2013-06-20 02.01.02

2013-06-20 02.01.16

We had some nice comments from writers, illustrators and publishers:

Julia from Gecko Press wrote:
Thank you Green Bay Primary for this great review! We love the thought of you all whistling your way round the library (Mister Whistler was perhaps dancing to an internal tune?!) – and the pictures are great. I personally think the underpants are very funny.

Illustrator Ali Teo said:
Dear Green Bay Primary School, my name is Ali and I’m one of the illustrators of Melu. We’re very glad you liked Melu and really appreciate your reviews. John and I loved reading them and looking at your artwork, we found it very inspirational. Best wishes, Ali

And the wonderful Jack Lasenby wrote a beautiful email to our two reviewers directly.

Now, we can’t but wait in anticipation for the winners of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards to be announce on Monday night. We all have our favourites, although all entries are really good. It will be a close one.
Oh, the excitement.


Reach by Hugh Brown
Reviewed by Green Bay Creative Writers

15-year-old Will Clark has been living with his grandparents since his mother abandoned him 5 years ago. Will is a compulsive reader and aspiring teakwandoist. He is surrounded by some intriguing characters. The banter between Will an his grandmother is hilarious. When he applies the same approach to conversation to his dealings with the school guidance counsellor, things go horribly wrong. It all gets complicated, when Mother returns and Will falls for Conway. Both seem unreachable for him.
The language of the book is beautiful. A favourite: ‘He […] got into bed […] trying to slow down the circuit of thoughts going round and round the Möbius strip of his mind’. A beautiful description of a busy mind.
We liked the novel within novel approach, in which Will lets us in on a few chapters of his fantasy novel.
Best supporting actress goes to Hex, the cow.

Hugh Brown (writer)

Hugh Brown has worked as a dishwasher, cook, editor, conservation worker and house dad. When he was young he liked writing rhyming poems (and still does). After studying literature at university he decided he’d like to write stories that were fun to read. He now lives in Paekakariki with his three kids, where he writes, edits, gardens and plays music. This is his first published book, and is the inaugural winner of the Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Earth Dragon, Fire Hare

Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran

A short but sharp review by Diana from Green Bay Creative Writers:

With a setting of the Second World War the book focused on Peter, a young boy living in New Zealand and Ng a young boy living in Malaya. As a period novel, the book doesn’t disappoint with a vibrant and atmospheric portal of the period. Little gems of historical information have been interwoven throughout the novel making it an interesting read for both young and old. Without a doubt this book has been well researched to reflect both the Malaysian and New Zealand wartime experience.
Although the character portrayal could do with more depth, the deficiency is more than made up by the quick moving storyline as we experience Peter and Ng transition from child to adulthood and share in those pivotal moments which shape our being.

Ken Catran (writer)
Ken Catran has written professionally for 30 years, beginning in television. He now writes YA fiction, and has published close to fifty books: history, war fiction, thrillers and science fiction, published internationally. Winner of nine writing awards, he is the 2007 recipient of the Margaret Mahy Award for services to children’s literature. Ken lives in South Canterbury.

The Nature of Ash

The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager

reviewed by Melanie Wittwer, Green Bay Creative Writers

Ash McCarthy is enjoying his care free student life, when suddenly the world as he knows it collapses around him. He has no option, but to return home to care for his brother and figure out what happened to his father. Together with little brother Mikey and two other teenagers he embarks on a road trip into an uncertain future. Initially I was worried that the teenage characters would remain flat and cliché-ridden: the responsible one, the Asian girl, etc. But, boy do they develop and , boy, do they show depth.
The book invites comparison to John Marsden’s Tomorrow series: a fictional war on home territory in the not so distant future and a group of teenagers left to fend for themselves. But I found Ash and his friends much more compelling . I felt for them more in this one book than I felt for Ellie and her mates in the entire Tomorrow series. Don’t get me wrong. I still think the Tomorrow series is excellent.
Ash goes through a lot. The loss of one family member, the return of another. Hager plays with the imagery surrounding the name Ash a lot. I like it. It’s very creative and avoids the obvious comparison. My favourite character is Erich. I want to hug him.
Hager takes current issues such as asset sales and their implications and plays out a more or less plausible scenario of what things might develop into in the next 30 years or so. The novel demonstrates how easily your life can flip and all you thought to be true turns out to be not so and also why some people had better stay dead. I liked the realistic setting and how it plays with concepts and surroundings that New Zealand can relate to. It certainly scared the hell out of me and I don’t even live in Wellington. I even avoided watching the news for a couple of days after I finished the book. That is how realistic it seemed to me. I hope she got it wrong.

Mandy Hager (writer)
Mandy Hager won the Esther Glen Award for Fiction for her novel Smashed and Best Young Adult Book in the NZ Post Book Awards 2010 for The Crossing. She was trained as a teacher, and she also has an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Polytechnic and a MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University. She lives with her husband on the Kapiti Coast on an acre of land.

Into the River

Into the River by Ted Dawe

reviewed by Sharon Giacon, Green Bay Primary/Intermediate School Librarian

Ted Dawe’s entry this year in the NZ post children’s book awards young adults section is Into the River, a thoroughly absorbing read.
The central character Te Arepa Santos, 13 years old, bright and from small town NZ wins a scholarship to attend an elite boarding school in Auckland. Fitting in is a struggle for Te Arepa with bullying and old school traditions challenging his identity. He is given a new name – Devon, and progressively separates himself from everything that identifies him as Maori. Devon struggles to move between his school life and life back down the line, but whenever he is home we learn from his grandfather more of his deep Maori and Spanish heritage.
This is a coming of age novel and prequel to Thunder Road , which won best young adult fiction and best first novel in 2004 .
Into the river is best suited to an older student audience. Some adult and controversial themes are featured in this book so it won’t be appearing in our primary school library.
This is the first Ted Dawe book I have read but won’t be my last.

Ted Dawe (writer)

Ted Dawe grew up in small rural towns around New Zealand. His first novel Thunder Road won the Young Adult Fiction section of the New Zealand Post Book Awards in 2004. It also won for him the Best First Book award. Since then he has published an adult novel, K Road and a Junior fiction novel, And did those feet… (which was a finalist in the Junior division of the 2007 awards). He published a collection of short stories, Captain Sailor Bird and Other Stories and a teacher’s resource book in 2007.

Snakes and Ladders

It’s festival week at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Aawards? Have you checked out the events happening near you ?
And it’s exactly one week to the big awards ceremony in Christchurch: Monday 24th. Excited yet?
It’s also Young Adult week on Green Bay writers, where we will review all the finalists in the Young Adult category.
Snakes and Ladders is up first:

Snakes and Ladders by Mary-Anne Scott


reviewed by Doris Evans, Green Bay Creative Writers

Finn Fletcher, the hero of the book, is a typical sixteen-year-old, living in a small coastal town in New Zealand with his mother Anne. He loves to hang out with his mates, enjoys cars, parties and is attracted to Alison, a girl his age.

His father Duggie lives separated from him and Anne. He has a small run down bach in the same village and appears to be lost in a world of drugs and music. He is a drummer. Finn and Duggie might not have the perfect relationship, but he seems to love his son dearly. Although in the village lives Finn’s granddad, who owns an orchard. Every now and then Finn works for him.

His grandmother ,Valerie, is the driving force behind the idea to ‘broaden his horizon’ by sending him to an exclusive boarding school in Auckland. First, Finn is strictly against this. He feels at home with his mates and Alison. Then, during an alcohol-filled party night, something terrible happens. It looks like Finn’s dad has to go to prison. Finn, who is completely devastated by the events, changes his mind and agrees to go to Auckland.

Settling into such a different lifestyle is not easy for Finn. He gets into contact with a bunch of new friends such as Andy and Hobbsie, but also with bully Edward, who seems to know a lot about his fellow students and likes to blackmail them. Finn stands his ground and fights back, when Edward threatens to reveal Duggie’s ordeal. He also fights for Mia, a beautiful rich girl, who plays in the same symphonic band. The more he gets involved into the rich people’s life, the less he wants to be reminded of where he comes from.

The turning point, however, is an illicit after-ball party, where something goes terribly wrong. In the aftermath Finn realizes that a lot in his life also went wrong lately. Together with his new mate Andy, he travels to his hometown in the holidays. His father seems to be a changed man, but will this all help Finn to get his life together?

I might not exactly be the target group of this novel, but I have a teenage son, so it was a delight to indulge into the world of the sixteen-year-olds. Mainly the book is a ‘coming of age’-story. It is about the importance of family. Finn’s immediate family, whether they were together or separated, always supported him despite his somewhat rude teenager behaviour. It is about love: Alison and Mia, the down-to-earth girl from home and the super-rich gorgeous girl from another world. Finn is attracted to both. It is about sportsmanship: Playing rugby helps to let off steam and team up.

“Snakes and Ladders’, quoted by wise Grandma Valerie, is about the ups and downs in real life. It is written in an entertaining, easy understandable style. I think it is a good read for students as it relates to their language and their problems.

Mary-anne Scott (writer)

Born in Hastings into a family of nine children, Mary-anne Scott grew up around books and music. Aside from writing, she sings and plays guitar, performing at wineries and weddings around Hawke’s Bay. She also plays cello and teaches music to young students. Mary-anne’s mother, Joy Watson, authored the popular Grandpa’s Slippers series.

Mary-anne is married to Paul and lives in Havelock North. The couple have four grown-up sons. The experiences, both good and bad, of her sons and their friends have been great fodder for her writing.