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Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award

The Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for an original junior novel, in partnership with Scholastic NZ, is open only to previously unpublished writers, and is made annually, when merited, to the author of a work of fiction for children between seven and 13 years of age.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.
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.
Tom Fitzgibbon
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.

The award is not open to any author who has had a work of fiction (novel or picture book) or non-fiction for either children, young adults or adults published in digital or print format (i.e. one sold through physical or online bookstores) or in the process of publication. Previous publication by the author in school readers and similar educational material; magazine articles; short stories or poetry; or contribution to an anthology; or any self-publishing where the print run is under 300 copies, is allowable. (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.

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.

2018 Tom Fitzgibbon Award Winner

The winner of the 2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award is James Guthrie of Wellington for Bullseye Bella. Scholastic publisher 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....
"This is a story that ticks all the boxes: strong female protagonist but doing something not particularly girly, so it’s a story that would appeal to both sexes. A little brother who’s a maths whiz and so fascinated with pirates that he believes he is one – Blackbeard, no less. And it’s peopled with a cast of characters that are so well-drawn, you’ll feel like you know them personally by the end of the book. Also, it transpires that Max (Blackbeard’s real name) has Asperger’s (but this isn’t made a big deal of). However, it does provide an impetus for the story – Bella is compelled to enter a local darts competition (unbeknownst to her mother) in an effort to win money and help her Mum pay for Max’s special school.
"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. He is already working with Scholastic on editing, and is looking forward to the book launch at next year's Storylines Margaret Mahy Awards Day.

IMG 6184James Guthrie-526-987
2018 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner James Guthrie
The shortlisted writers were:
  • Glenis Bearsley (Palmerston North) for what Penny Scown described as "a great New Zealand adventure story #Unbelievable, which ticked many boxes: voice, villains, modern techy stuff, ancient Maori stuff, and both boy and girl protagonists".
  • Gay Buckingham (Dunedin) for Kakapo Keeper, based on a real-life story that demonstrates how conservation efforts for kakapo and kiwi have been taking place in New Zealand since the late 1800s – and the heartbreak even then of discovering a stoat on a supposedly predator-free island.

IMG 6176 STFA shortlisted author Glenys Bearsley-931-122
Shortlisted author Glennis Bearsley

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



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