The Storylines Joy Cowley Award for an original picture book text, in partnership with Scholastic NZ, is open to all New Zealand writers and is made annually, when merited. There is a monetary prize of $1500 from Scholastic New Zealand, and an offer of publication. Scholastic has produced a poster celebrating previous Storylines Joy Cowley Award winners.
2018 Joy Cowley Award shortlist
- Elaine Bickell (Wellington) for “The little ghost who lost his Boo ”
- Samantha Montgomerie (Dunedin) for “Skipper and Scout”
- Angela Walker (Auckland) for “The journey we take together”
About the Award
The Storylines Joy Cowley Award was established in 2002 when Storylines contacted Scholastic New Zealand, one of Joy's publishers, asking them to join with Storylines in creating an award that would recognise the exceptional contribution Joy Cowley has made to children’s literature and literacy in New Zealand and internationally.
The aim of the award is to foster the publication of excellent picture books by writers permanently resident in New Zealand.
The award is open to new writers and to already published writers who have never had a trade picture book published. .
Winning this award has launched the careers of some of New Zealand’s best-loved authors, including Kyle Mewburn and Lucy Davey. The most successful title to date is Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn, which has been published in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and South Korea (translated into Korean).
A full list of winners can be seen here.
The judging panel is made up of representatives from Storylines and Scholastic New Zealand. All the judges read every manuscript carefully and make comments on the strongest. They then meet and debate their preferences. The judges usually end up reading the stories out loud to each other, as this helps understanding of the story, and highlights any failings in the structure.
Award entries close on 31 October each year. The award winner is announced in April and the published book launched the following year.
Some notes on judging
Storylines and Scholastic are committed to ensuring the quality and success of the award-winning manuscript on publication, and there have been two occasions when no winner was awarded.
If you are intending submitting a picture book text for the 2017 Storylines Joy Cowley Award, Storylines strongly advises that you write it in prose, and put aside ambitions to write in rhymed verse.
“Rhyme is difficult”, Joy Cowley says in her how-to book Writing from the Heart
, ”and must be done well. It needs natural language and rhythm, and must scan."
Many of the texts submitted for the award in recent years have been in rhyming verse, but have not met Joy’s criteria. Each year the judges report their disappointment that good ideas are spoiled by imperfect, hard-to-read verse, rather than simple, clear prose.
You can read some advice from Joy on this topic here
The award is open to new writers and to already published writers who have never had a trade picture book published. Previous winners are not eligible.
The manuscript submitted must not have been published in either print or digital format for trade (i.e. sold through physical or online bookstores) or for educational purposes (such as school readers), or be in the process of publication in any format.
Making a Submission:
Manuscripts, with accompanying form (which you can find here
) and fee payment should be sent to Tina Collins, Storylines Awards administrator (refer to the entry form for instructions), and must be postmarked no later than 31 October each year.
The manuscript, of no more than 1000 words, must be for a picture book for children two to seven years, suitable for publication in book format..
Do not include illustrations. If you feel illustrations are essential in order to convey your story then include a brief description of the image content, sufficient to achieve the level of understanding you believe is needed.
Entry form and checklist:
There was no winner of the Joy Cowley award in 2017, but four commendation certificates were awarded to:
Two authors highly commended for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, Lottie Holt and Elaine Bickell with Scholastic’s Penny Scown and Storylines Trustee Libby Limbrick. (Photo: Crissi Blair)
- Christine Ashton, Southland, My Friend Fred - Highly Commended
- Lottie Holt, Auckland, The Princess and the Pirate - Highly Commended
- Elaine Bickell, Wellington, The Enormous Feet - Commended
- Belinda O’Keefe, Christchurch, The Truly Magnificent Stick - Commended
Recipients of the Storylines Joy Cowley Award: