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Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winners

2012 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award


Winner of the 2021 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a junior novel manuscript is Kidnap at Mystery Island, Carol Garden of Tauranga

Girl in the Iron Lung by Nissa (Glenis) Bearsley of Palmerston North was highly commended. Commended were Edna the extraordinary by Leah Carter (Tauranga), and Holding the horse by Janine Williams of Whangarei.

Carol Garden has been writing professionally since starting out as a cadet-reporter in the 1980s, later moving to public relations and communications. A five-month sailing adventure to Tonga, Fiji and Samoa and a bout with breast cancer helped motivate her to get on with her creative writing goals. She wrote her first novel for young people in 2020 and has developed an enthusiasm for short stories in 2021, along with writing the sequel for the novel. Years of sailing around Great Barrier Island and the many islands off the coast of the North Island have given Carol a first-hand sense of the isolation, simplicity and rhythm of island life. Her time in the Pacific reinforced this and she uses it to colour many of her stories.

The Judges described Carol’s manuscript as “a gripping, exciting and very readable adventure for today’s audience. Scholastic “commented that they would like to include “some graphic and techie blueprint-style illustrations to enhance the futuristic and high-tech eco nature of the story” and will work with Carol through the editing process to achieve this.

Carol Garden-152Congratulations to Carol Garden, winner of the h2021 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner 2020

A recipe for disaster by Belinda O'Keefe is the winner of the 2020 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award, sponsored by Scholastic New Zealand.
We wer unable to hold a "real" awards ceremony in 2020. Watch the digital presentation to Belinda instead.

Belinda lives in Christchurch with her husband, two sons, two Russian blues and a temperamental rabbit. She is a freelance copy editor and the sub-editor of latitude magazine. Belinda has a passion for language and books – she loves reading so much that she does it for a living, as well as for pleasure. In fact she can’t remember the last time she was without a book to read!

Belinda was shortlisted for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award in 2016 and 2017, and in 2019 she had her first picture book, The Day the Plants Fought Back published with Scholastic New Zealand. She gets most of her inspiration from her two boys, and her youngest son’s slime obsession gave her a light bulb moment for the plot of Recipe for Disaster.

When she’s not working, writing or stuck in a good book, Belinda says you’ll find her “eating chocolate, going to the gym, taming her garden, baking cakes and hanging out with her family”.

“Our congratulations go out to Belinda O’Keefe, for her perfectly pitched, rollicking and humorous fiction, A Recipe for Disaster,” says Lynette Evans, Publishing Manager for Scholastic New Zealand. “The manuscript wowed the judges on the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award panel, amid stiff competition and a high calibre of entries. Written by someone who understands how children think, it demonstrates great characterisation and family dynamics. We look forward to working with Belinda, although we may want to choose another title – no more disasters on the menu please! Given the challenging times at present, we will confirm publication dates after the lockdown period and once Scholastic distribution is able to operate once more.

“One upside is that at this time, when the world as we know it has gone a little topsy-turvy, it seems that people are turning to books more than ever before. Scholastic is committed to keeping kids and families reading and having fun with stories that expand the imagination and open new worlds of possible. Through our partnership with Storylines and thanks to the vision of inspiring storytellers and educators, such the late Tom Fitzgibbon, we have the great privilege of publishing truly Kiwi stories, written by New Zealand authors and brought to life by New Zealand illustrators to keep local content and characters on our children’s bookshelves.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Belinda as one the 2020 Storylines Award winners into the fold.”

We also congratulate others on the shortlist:

  • George and Daisy by Chrissie Walker from Christchurch (Highly Commended)
  • The clash of the cousins by Louise Shaw from Geraldine (Commended)



Belinda O'Keefe1 headshot-709 Belinda O'Keefe, winner of the 2020 Storyines Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2020
Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award-463

Storylines Special Award 2020

Storylines has inaugurated a special award for a previously unpublished writer who is shortlisted for the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award. The winner in 2020 is Louise Shaw.

Louise lives on a lifestyle block in Geraldine, South Canterbury, with her husband Jason, and six children (currently aged between five and 19 years old). As a homeschooling mum, she keeps busy overseeing their education and driving them to various activities including music and ballet lessons. It was this lifestyle which inspired her junior novel (and shortlisted manuscript), Clash of the Cousins. Louise’s daughter Faith is equal parts elegant ballet dancer/musician and animal-loving tomboy, and Louise had fun placing those two different personalities into Aria, a solo child from big city Auckland and Hazel, one of her eight homeschooled cousins who live on a self-sufficient property in Peel Forest. Needless to say, sparks fly when these very different lifestyles come together, but eventually (of course) the cousins become close friends.

Louise has always loved reading but now loves writing even more (so much so that she became an ‘early bird’ just to make it happen). She has to keep cranking out manuscripts to feed the voracious appetite of her children who demand sequels as soon as she has finished reading one of her books aloud to them. From her eldest son came her greatest compliment, ‘Wow, Mum, you almost write like a real person.”

Louise also loves to explore natural New Zealand and write ‘real places’ into her books. She is grateful for the opportunity that the Storylines awards give unpublished authors like herself.

Louise Shaw IMG 3128-211

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 Storylines 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 Chrissie 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: Chrissie Walker for manuscript  entitled The Short But Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed
  • 2018: James Guthrie for manuscript entitled Bullseye Bella
  • 2019: no award



Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki and Friends of Storylines Te Pou o Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki together form New Zealand’s only national organisation working year-round to promote New Zealand children’s and young adult literature through activities that include a major national Story Tour to schools, early childhood centres and communities, and awards for writers, illustrators and those who work in the area of New Zealand children’s literature



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