13 Aug 2015

Singing Home the Whale top book

7:02 pm on 13 August 2015

A story about a young boy and an orca set in the Marlborough Sounds has won this year's Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award.

Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager Photo: Supplied

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Singing Home the Whale.

Photo: Random House

Mandy Hager's Singing Home the Whale was announced the winner at Government House this evening. It also won the best young adult fiction award.

The book tells the story of Min the whale, who has been separated from his pod after seeing his mother killed by whalers.

He hears Will, a young boy, singing from the back of a boat and the two become rekindled souls.

Judging panel convener Bob Docherty said the book stood out as relevant, timeless and extraordinarily powerful.

"This novel would have won in any year it was entered, and the decision was unanimous for the judging panel."

He said Hager was writing out of her skin and her understanding of the human condition and human attitudes towards each other and other inhabitants of the Earth were beautifully presented.

"This novel should be compulsory reading in any country that still hunts whales, the alternating narrative by Will and Min is captivating and believable, as well as easy to read," Mr Docherty said.

Full list of winners:

  • Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of Best Young Adult Fiction category- Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Best Picture Book: Prize- Jim's Letters, by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
  • Best Non-Fiction- Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill, by Debbie McCauley and Tamati Waaka (
  • Best Junior Fiction- Monkey Boy, by Donovan Bixley
  • Māori Language Award- Ngā Kī, translation by Kawata Teepa (Ngai Tuhoe, Te Arawa) of Keys by Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)
  • Best First Book- Māori Art for Kids, by Julie Noanoa