Friday, May 18, 2012

NZ Graphic Novels rule the NZ Post Children's Book Awards!

Above: Nice Day for a War, by Matt Elliot and Chris Slane.

The winners of the NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2012 were announced on Wednesday night at a Wellington ceremony, with three of the major prizes going to comics related books. Nice Day for a War, by Matt Elliot and Chris Slane took out the top prize of Children's Book Of The Year, and won the Non-Fiction category. Nice Day for a War is based on the World War I diaries of writer Matt Elliot's grandfather, Corporal Cyril Elliot. The diary entries are complimented by gritty narrative comic sections depicted in stunning watercolour art by Chris Slane, that clearly made an impact on the judges. Gillian Candler, the Awards Convenor of Judges praised its unique approach to its subject, "Nice Day for a War is a stand-out book which offers young readers an honest glimpse into the lives of soldiers during World War I. The beautiful fluid line drawings and muted watercolour washes bring the diary to life. The interplay between the illustrations and text creates a powerful, emotionally engaging story for young readers".

Above: Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang.

Ant Sang's powerful debut graphic novel Shaolin Burning received the runner-up Honour Award in the Picture Book category. This is a great result, as Shaolin Burning was something of a surprise entry into the Picture Book category, with many industry watchers commenting that its subject matter really places it closer to the YA fiction category than anything else. As Ant commented, "I thought it would be tough for Shaolin Burning to compete in the Picture Book category, so was really pleased to receive the Honour Award. And fantastic that Elliot and Chris' Nice Day For a War scooped the top award of the night. NZ comics represent!"

However, If there was a prize for media coverage, Shaolin Burning would have certainly come out on top. It was easily the most talked about book leading up to the Awards, bringing some attention back to what can occasionally be a fairly predictable and safe line-up. With these results I expect we'll be seeing a lot more local graphic novels in the pipeline as publishers love award magnets, especially books that capture the public imagination.


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