Were-nana a winner with young readers
An off-hand comment by a children’s television presenter, which was picked up by Mt Eden author Melinda Szymanik, has led to an award-winning book The Were-Nana.
Her book, illustrated by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, is about a grandmother who turns into a werewolf – a were-nana.
“I was watching Studio 2 and the presenter Matt Gibb made an off-hand comment saying maybe your grandmother is a were-nana,” she says.
“I emailed him to say thanks for the idea and he replied saying he was glad to have inspired the book,” she says.
The New Zealand Post Book Awards were held last Wednesday night and Ms Szymanik received the prestigious Children’s Choice Award.
More than 25,000 children voted for their favourite book and she says it is fantastic to have so many children voting.
“They’re the audience you want to impress.”
Illustrator Brian Lovelock won the picture book category for Roadworks, written by Sally Sutton.
He was surprised to receive the award.
“I felt like an imposter among all the talent. There was a lot of serious competition.
“It was a great event – exciting.
“It was a great privilege to attend, I’m quite a novice,” Mr Lovelock says.
Based in Epsom, he is currently working on The Rain Train, written by Elena deRoo.
Mr Lovelock says the illustrations take a while, usually about six to eight months to complete.
Ms Szymanik says she realised after writing her book that many elements from her own childhood had been included.
“It was my subconscious mixing in.”
She feels part of the success is the right pairing with an illustrator and they have to understand what it is about.
Ms Szymanik is now working on a number of other picture books and a young adult book which she is two-thirds of the way through.
The judging panel for the New Zealand Post Book Awards included bookseller Jenni Keestra and children’s writer and reviewer Rosemary Tisdall.
They said they thorough- ly relished the opportunity to read nearly everything that was published for New Zealand children and young adults in 2008.
“We applaud the authors, illustrators and their publishers for continuing to strive for stories that stimulate, excite, take risks, inspire and, ultimately, become part of the fabric of a reader’s memory.”
The winner of each category was awarded $7500 and the Children’s Choice Award winner received $2000.