login login

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winners

2021 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 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-152Carol Garden, winner of the 2021 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

2020 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner


A recipe for disaster by Belinda O'Keefe was the winner of the 2020 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award, sponsored by Scholastic New Zealand.

Shortlisted were:
  • George and Daisy by Chrissie Walker from Christchurch (Highly Commended)
  • The clash of the cousins by Louise Shaw from Geraldine (Commended)
We were unable to hold a "real" awards ceremony in 2020. Watch the digital presentation to Belinda instead.

Belinda lives in Christchurch and was shortlisted for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award in 2016 and 2017. 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.

“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."



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 was Louise Shaw.

Louise lives on a lifestyle block in Geraldine, South Canterbury. As a homeschooling mum, she keeps busy overseeing her children's 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.

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

Bullseye Bella Front CVR FINAL hr-844-351

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
  • 2020: Belinda O'Keefe for her manuscript ' A Recipe for Disaster' published as Slime
  • 2021: Carol Garden for her manuscript Kidnap at Mystery Island



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



for  Storylines e-news and updates
First Name*
Last Name*
In order to assist us in reducing spam, please type the characters you see:


Storylines welcomes your support for all its activities and events. Whether as a volunteer or sponsor for annual events or specific activities, your support (large or small) towards helping young New Zealanders love books is greatly appreciated.