New Zealand's oldest book prize, the Esther Glen Award, was presented at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards ceremony in Wellington last night (Monday 10 August). The Esther Glen Award was established in 1944 and is presented to the author whose work is considered a distinguished contribution to fiction for children.
The prize was presented to Wellington writer Fleur Beale for her young adult novel Juno of Taris (Random House). The judges said Beale "excels in descriptions of life as a feisty teenage girl. Juno is a remarkable character, the reader delights in her triumphs and commiserates in her disappointments."
'Don't give up. Don't let them kill your spirit. Things will change. You need to be strong. You need to be ready. And you will need courage.'
Juno is young; she has no authority, no power, and to question the ways of Taris is discouraged. She knows what it's like when the community withdraws from her - turning their backs and not speaking to her until she complies.
The Taris Project was the brainchild of a desperate twenty-first-century world, a community designed to survive even if the rest of humanity perished. An isolated, storm-buffeted island in the Southern Ocean was given a protective dome and its own balmy climate. And now Juno is one of 500 people who live there - but what has happened to the outside world in the years since Taris was established? The island has not been in contact with Outside since the early years of its existence.
Juno yearns to know about life Outside, just as she yearns to be allowed to grow her hair. It is a rule on Taris that all must have their heads shaved bare. But is it a rule that could be broken? Danger awaits any who suggest it.
Juno of Taris is available through amazon marketplace in the UK.