A young adult novel about a dramatic journey that transforms an East Coast boy has taken out this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards tonight.
Ted Dawe's Into the River was named the Margaret Mahy book of the year and was also the winner of the young adult fiction category at the awards held in Christchurch.
The self-published coming-of-age novel see the main character struggling to find his own way while battling with his cultural identify, as he moves from childhood in small-town rural New Zealand to a prestigious boarding school in Auckland.
Dowe said the book had been an ''exhaustive and exhausting endeavour'' with numerous drafts and rewrites early-on.
It was well-received by critics, featuring on the best of 2012 lists compiled by the Dominion Post and The Press newspapers.
Chief judge Bernard Beckett said traditionally young adult books were not a strength in New Zealand, with most books aimed at the junior fiction market.
''We were delighted to see a book that both engaged and respected older readers, with material as subtle as it is honest and provocative.''
The judging panel also included children's literature expert and author Eirlys Hunter and Radio New Zealand's Arts on Sunday presenter Lynn Freeman.
The panel picked 19 finalists from more than one hundred entries to find the best written and illustrated children's books published by New Zealand authors for 2013.
Best picture book was awarded to the late Margaret Mahy and illustrator Gavin Bishop for Mister Whistler - the second posthumously published work by Mahy.
Other winners include:
- Best non-fiction: Simon Morton and Riria Hotere, 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa (Te Papa Press)
- Best junior fiction: David Hill, My Brother's War (Penguin Group NZ)
- Honour award, junior fiction: Barbara Else (Wellington), The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series (Gecko Press)
- Best first book: Hugh Brown, Reach (HarperCollins)
- Children's choice: Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O'Reilly, Melu (Scholastic NZ)
- The Press