Esther Glen Medal for The Travelling Restaurant!

It’s two weeks since the LIANZA Award Night when a dream came true.  I was speechless, literally, not having prepared one and unable to think of a thing to say when the medal was pressed into my hand.  For the last few days I’ve been checking the back to see that yes, it really is my name engraved there.  This is the oldest award for children’s writing in NZ, and I am blown away by it being given to The Travelling Restaurant.

LIANZA Report:
The Travelling Restaurant:
“In this story adults are not reliable. Jasper has to deal with abandonment and serious trust issues which is not helped by being ‘Skinny. Plain. And apparently not very bright.’ These difficulties do not get in the way of us sailing effortlessly through this fairytale in which all the characters are recognisable. Fontania is ruled by the evil, vain Lady Gall – pumped up and beautified by scientifically manufactured ‘beauteen.’ Science rules and magic has been outlawed since ‘the great accident’.  The imagined world is mapped on the end papers visually affirming the breadth of Jasper’s travels. The text is bursting with stunning vocabulary, alliteration, onomatopoeia and phrases the reader returns to and re-reads for simple pleasure. Imagine ‘sailing through fog … like moths wings’ or that Jasper’s …’ throat hurt with missing his parents’. The dialogue is brilliant, understated in that it leaves spaces for the reader to work out conversational connections leading to the next piece in the tale. And funny.  Very funny. All the fairytale elements are here, battles, symbols, goodies and baddies, treachery and true friendship. Importantly, the characters are well fed. The cooking and sailing descriptions are terrific and we learned quite a bit about pies and tricky shipping maneuvers.”

LIANZA AWARDS – Second Opinions

A great piece of news on Friday – The Travelling Restaurant is on the short list for the LIANZA Esther Glen medal.  I wasn’t counting on it. There are always some differences between the LIANZA and NZ Post Children’s Book Awards short lists. This year there seem more differences than usual. Am I right?  (LIANZA – the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa is the professional organisation for the New Zealand library and information services sector.)

This year, three junior novels appear in both short lists of five while only two YA novels have made both cuts.

The Russell Clark Medal for Illustration recognises art work rather than text and that must be a very interesting debate for the judges (I’d love to have my ear to the keyhole). This year there are six short listed books compared to five on the NZ Post short list. Four on the LIANZA list didn’t appear on the NZ Post list.

Non-fiction is the category with the least difference, only one out of the five not appearing in the earlier short-list.

NZ writing for children is very lucky to have the two awards. There is more chance that good writing will get the recognition it deserves. It certainly shows that opinions can differ, and why shouldn’t they?

It’s a real shame the New Zealand Book Awards were axed in (when? The early 1990s?) Writing for grown ups here needs the same wider opportunities for recognition. The NZ Post Book Awards on their own just don’t do enough of a job. Heavens above, even in this little country there are more than three brilliant books of fiction published each year.

Enough from me. It will be a great party at Caffe L’affare on 6 August when the LIANZA awards are announced. Congratulations to everyone on the short list.

Here’s the link:



Barbara says:
“Thank you everyone who has sent messages, phone calls and flowers for the Award. I’m so pleased The Travelling Restaurant has been honoured like this. I didn’t have a chance to give a speech on the night and anyway, I would have been inarticulate. This is what I would have/should have said…

First, thanks to Abe Baillie who let me know that the idea of a restaurant with special coaxing for children was a good idea. Second, thanks to Barbara Murison and Emma Neale who read a draft of TTR and gave wonderfully useful feeback and encouragement. An ocean liner full of thanks for Chris Else who read several drafts and was tough, tough, tough and always encouraging. Then a huge thanks to Gecko Press – Julia Marshall and Jane Arthur especially. Julia’s pleasure at the manuscript landing on her desk (before I knew it had even been sent, actually) was amazing. I was so happy that she asked the incomparable Jane Parkin to do the editing. Then Jane Arthur’s meticulous attention to every detail of the production was a writer’s dream come true. One of Gecko’s cleverest moves was choosing Luke Kelly for the design and Sam Broad for the artwork. Sam and Luke, with the map and cover, added a significant layer to the story.

All these words of mine here seem inadequate. So thank, you team. You’re beautiful.

And a final thank you to New Zealand Post for sponsoring the awards.”