Lyttelton children's book author in running for major award

Helen Taylor with her children’s book, Pīpī Kiwi. Photo: Supplied
Helen Taylor with her children’s book, Pīpī Kiwi. Photo: Supplied
A childhood dream to be like “both Beatrix Potter and Dr Seuss” has turned into a career for children’s author and illustrator Helen Taylor.

The Lyttelton resident has been named as a finalist in The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for her children’s book Pīpī Kiwi. She is now in the running for a $7500 prize.

Taylor said it was “really lovely” to be a finalist and it was validation for her work “as it’s really needed in this industry.”

The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award is for children’s literature available in te reo Māori.

It is one of six main award categories at this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Pīpī Kiwi was translated into te reo Māori by Hēni Jacob and published in April last year.

It tells the story of a young kiwi who is impatiently waiting for the birth of his new kiwi sibling and asking his father constant questions about what it will be able to do when it’s born.

The book was inspired by Taylor’s own experience of “dealing with one kid with a baby on the way.”

Helen Taylor. Photo: Facebook
Helen Taylor. Photo: Facebook
While she was pregnant with her daughter, she had to respond to her three-year-old son’s questions and expectations about the new baby.

Taylor has been a children’s book illustrator for 30 years and started writing and illustrating her own books for children in 2009.

Pīpī Kiwi is her fourth book.

Taylor said she wore “two different hats” when creating the book, but she loves every aspect of writing and illustrating stories for children.

Her advice to aspiring writers – “just do it and believe in yourself.”

“Get the work done and give it to friends, family, get it seen. Because things shouldn’t hide in cupboards.”

The 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults has 166 entries with 28 authors making the shortlist.

The winners will be announced on the August 11. One winner from each of the six main categories will receive a $7500 prize.

The six winners will then go in the running to have their book named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and a further $7500 in prize money.

- By Ella Somers

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