Top New Zealand junior fiction picks for 2021

Ten junior fiction books released in 2021 by Kiwi authors have been named Storylines Notable Books 2021, with the winning work to be revealed next month.

Storylines Children’s Literature Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa announced its list of top novels by New Zealand authors for young readers published from 1 January 2020 to 31 July 2021. 

In association with TV2’s What Now programme and the Kids’ Pick Award run by Storylines, the overall award for best book will be judged by intermediate-age children. It will be presented live on 14 November by New Zealand Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador Ben Brown.

Christine Young, Chair of Storylines Trust, noted that the judges had commented particularly on the very high standard of this year’s entries. “We’re delighted to announce a list of ten exceptional junior fiction novels that emphasise the depth of New Zealand publishing for young emerging readers.

“The list Includes established writers Des Hunt, David Hill, Bernard Beckett, T.K. Roxborogh, Leonie Agnew, Bill Nagelkerke, and Mary-anne Scott, alongside newer writers represented by Jonathan King and Anna Kenna.

“Reflecting the high standard of the entries, judges also chose two highly commended books, Partners in Slime by Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner Belinda O’Keefe and The Forever Horse by perennially popular author Stacy Gregg.”

The Storylines Notable Book Awards began in 1999 to bring to public attention the best of New Zealand publishing in five genres: Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and Te Reo Māori. The top ten notable books were selected by a panel of seven experts in children’s literature, appointed by Storylines. 

The full list of 2021 Storylines Junior Fiction Notable Books is:
• Mallory, Mallory: The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, by James Norcliffe,
illustrations by Emily Walker (Penguin Random House NZ – Puffin, September
• The Inkberg Enigma, text and illustrations by Jonathan King (Gecko Press,
August 2020)
• Viola Vincent Reporting – Troubled Water, by Anna Kenna (Tiromoana
Publishing, September 2020)
• Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea, by T K Roxborogh,
illustrations by Phoebe Morris (Huia Publishers, September 2020)
• Red Edge, by Des Hunt (Scholastic New Zealand, September 2020)
• Spearo, by Mary-anne Scott (OneTree House, September 2020)
• Three Scoops: Stories by David Hill, by David Hill, illustrations by Lisa Allen
(OneTree House, July 2021)
• The Memory Thief, by Leonie Agnew, illustrations by Kieran Rynhart (Penguin
Random House NZ – Puffin, July 2021)
• The Tunnel of Dreams, by Bernard Beckett (Text Publishing, September 2020)
• The Ghosts on the Hill, by Bill Nagelkerke, illustrations by Theo Macdonald
(The Cuba Press, July 2020)

Highly Commended:
• Partners in Slime, by Belinda O’Keefe (Scholastic New Zealand 2021)
• The Forever Horse, by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins 2021

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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