The Esther Glen Award

The Esther Glen Award

Cover of Stella Morice's The book of Wiremu (1945), the first winner of the Esther Glen Award.

Celebrating writers for children and young adults

New Zealand's longest-running book award is the Esther Glen Award, which is given for ‘the most distinguished contribution to New Zealand literature for children and young adults'. Established in 1945 in commemoration of one of New Zealand's finest children's writers, it has been won by many of New Zealand's favourite children's and young adult writers.

The award was first given in 1945 to Stella Morice for The book of Wiremu, containing stories of the daily life of a young Māori boy and illustrated by Nancy Parker. It was next given in 1947 to A.W. Reed for Myths and legends of Maoriland. Gaps in bestowing the award (1946, 1948-9, 1951-8, 1960-3, 1965-9, 1971–2, 1974, 1976-7, 1980-1, 1987, and 1999–2000) have supposedly reflected New Zealand's limited stable of children's writers. It is undoubtedly a positive sign that the award has been given every year in the new millennium.

Celebrated New Zealand children's and young adult writer Margaret Mahy won the award a record six times (1970, 1973, 1983, 1985, 1993 and 2001). She received it for her first published book, A lion in the meadow. Tessa Duder has received the award three times (1988, 1990 and 1992), on each occasion for a book in her inspirational young adult series, Alex. Another multiple winner is Maurice Gee, an author equally celebrated for his writing for adults, who received the award in 1986 and 1995. More recently, David Hill (1998 and 2003) and Bernard Beckett (2005 and 2007) have also won the award twice. The winners are announced at the annual conference of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), which administers the awards.

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