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Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award

Storylines Tom Firtzgibbon Award shortlist 2020


The shortlist for the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a junior fiction manuscript looks like a coup for Christchurch and the Canterbury area:

  • A recipe for disaster by Belinda O'Keefe from Christchurch
  • The clash of the cousins by Louise Shaw from Geraldine
  • George and Daisy by Chrissie Walker from Christchurch
The winner will be announced at the 2020 Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards Day on 5 April. Register before 31 March to attend.

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award

The annual Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a junior manuscript is now open to all New Zealand authors who meet the residency criteria. From its inception in 1996 until 2018 the award was open only to previously unpublished writers.
The award continues to carry assurance of publication by sponsoring publisher Scholastic New Zealand and prize money of $1500.

At the same time, Storylines has introduced a new award for a manuscript by an unpublished writer selected for the shortlist will be publicly acknowledged at the Storylines National Awards Day and receive prize money of $500.

Read more below about entry criteria and submission deadlines


Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award - background

The Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for an original junior novel, in partnership with Scholastic NZ, is open to all New Zealand writers, and is made annually, when merited, to the author of a work of fiction for children between seven and 13 years of age.
The award carries a monetary prize of $1500 and an offer of publication by Scholastic New Zealand. Scholastic has produced a poster celebrating previous Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winners.

In 2019 there was regrettably no shortlist, as none of the manuscripts submitted was deemed by the judging panel to meet the required standard.

Read tips from a previous Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner about how best to approach and present your novel manuscript.
TFA Poster 2018-86-524


The Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award was established in 1995 to recognise the outstanding contribution made by the late Tom Fitzgibbon to the growth and status of children’s literature in New Zealand.
For many years Head of the English Department at North Shore Teachers’ College and the Auckland College of Education, Tom founded the Children’s Literature Association of New Zealand and later became the first chair of the New Zealand Children’s Book Foundation, forerunner of Storylines.

The award is administered by Storylines and sponsored by Scholastic New Zealand. It is made annually, when merited, to the author of a work of fiction for children between seven and 13 years of age.
Tom Fitzgibbon-875

The award is open to any author who meets the New Zealand residency criteria. (If in doubt, writers should seek a ruling from Storylines.)  Eligibility criteria are stated on the Entry Form.

The award carries a monetary prize of $1500 and an offer of publication by Scholastic New Zealand.In addition Storylines offers a special award of $500 to any previously unpublished (in any format) author who is selected for the shortlist.

Manuscripts, with accompanying form and fee payment, must be postmarked no later than 31 October each year. The award winner is announced in March and the published book launched the following year.

Entry form and guidelines:

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award guidelines and entry form.

Launch of 2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner

Bullseye Bella by James Guthrie, the 2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon winner for a manuscript by a previously unpublished writer, was launched at the 2019 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Awards Day on 31 March 2019.

Scholastic New Zealand launched the 2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner, Bullseye Bella, at this year’s Storylines Margaret Mahy Day. Scholastic NZ publisher Lynette Evans introduced winning author James T. Guthrie, and presented him with a hamper before the formal launch of the book by Margaret Fitzgibbon, daughter of Tom.

The books tells the story of Bella Kerr, darts prodigy, who secretly enters a darts competition at the local pub to help raise funds for her little brother's special schooling. The old boys' network of darts players are not happy.... – and so begins a tale laced with humour and full of nail-biting drama.

Bullseye Bella is published by Scholastic New Zealand, Storylines' partner in the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.
Margaret Fitzgibbon congratulates James Guthrie on the launch of Bullseye Bella; Lynette Evans, publisher at Scholastic NZ, looks on.
2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner James T Guthrie's  Bullseye Bella is launched Lynette Evans Margaret Fitzgibbon with James T Guthrie IMG 3822-426

Praise for 2018 Tom Fitzgibbon Award Winner

The winner of the 2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award was James Guthrie of Wellington for Bullseye Bella. Scholastic senior editor Penny Scown said, "From the moment I began reading this story, I was absolutely enthralled. It was a story about a girl who plays darts, of all things! Who knew darts could be so exciting? I was totally drawn into this story....
"It’s a compelling, exciting read, well written with good drama and a great climax."
Author James Guthrie said the story came to him one day as a complete plot, with characters and story line fully formed. Two years of part-time writing later he completed the manuscript, in time to enter it for the award.


2017 winner launched in 2018

The Short but Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed

Winner of the 2017 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a children's novel manuscript by an unpublished writer, in association with Scholastic New Zealand, was librarian Chrissi Walker, of Christchurch for her manuscript The Short But Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed.

Her manuscript emerged from the publishing process and the book was launched on 8 April 2018 at the Storylines Margaret Mahy Awards Day.

At the launch, Chrissi noted that she's as passionate as ever about engaging children with books and reading, and hopes that in Lucas Weed she has created a funny, likeable character.

Recipients of the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award:Tom Fitzgibbon Award logo
  • 1996: Iona McNaughton; manuscript published as Summer of Shadows.
  • 1997: Heather Cato; manuscript published as Dark Horses.
  • 1998: Vince Ford; manuscript published as 2MUCH4U.
  • 1999: Shirley Corlett; manuscript published as The Stolen.
  • 2000: Alison Robertson; manuscript published as Knocked for Six.
  • 2001: no award.
  • 2002: Janet Pates; manuscript published as Mystery at Tui Bay.
  • 2003: Jillian Sullivan; manuscript published as Shreve’s Promise.
  • 2004: Brigid Feehan; manuscript published as Stella Star.
  • 2005: Heather McQuillan; manuscript published as Mind Over Matter.
  • 2006: Vicki Simpson; manuscript published Yo, Shark Bait!
  • 2007: Kris Stanhope; manuscript published as Why I Hate School by Michael Fartarsky.
  • 2008: Elizabeth Hegarty; manuscript published as Salt River.
  • 2009: Anna Gowan; manuscript published as Hollie Chips.
  • 2010: Leonie Agnew; manuscript published as Super Finn.
  • 2011: KathyTaylor; manuscript published as Iris's Ukulele.
  • 2012: no award.
  • 2013: Juliet Jacka, manuscript published as The Night of the Perigee Moon.
  • 2014: Suzanne Main, manuscript published as How I Alienated My Grandma.
  • 2015: Tom E. Moffatt, manuscript published as Barking Mad
  • 2016:  Anne Kayes, manuscript published as Tui Street Tales.
  • 2017: Christine Walker for manuscript  entitled The Short But Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed
  • 2018: James Guthrie for manuscript entitled Bullseye Bella
  • 2019: no award



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