Criteria for Book Category & Judges

Judges’ Criteria

The essence of a judge’s duty is to consider how the narrative prompts readers to reflect on young people and universal values notably through an examination of the thoughts and motivations of the characters.

Our Judges assess entries primarily for:

  1. Literary merit – aesthetic qualities of language, standing the test of time, realistic characters
  2. Cohesiveness – language, theme, style
  3. Appeal to the implied readership
  4. Quality – illustrations, book design, production, editing
  5. Originality in the treatment of literary elements as they apply to the form of the work
  6. Consideration is given to the quality of illustrations, book design, editing, production, printing and binding

General criteria for all categories

The judges consider the following:

  • How the setting and sense of place contributes to the storyline.
  • They look for strong main and minor characters with convincing dialogue that readers can identify with. 
  • They assess the plot and consider its pace and the mood that is established. They consider how the action and resolution are achieved. They focus upon the writing and assess that it is credible and appropriate. They look to see how the writing extends the reader’s experience and helps them understand more about themselves and their world. 
  • They look to see that ideas are well crafted, generated and selected to explore recognisable themes or develop a fresh perspective. 
  • They consider the age appropriateness of the text.
  • They look for consistency in the author’s use of effective words and phrases. They consider whether the sentences are natural and creative. They examine if the language is appropriate to the theme and characters. For early childhood works they give weight to how well the story can be read aloud. 

Picture Book Category 

  • Books in which the text and illustrations work together and the story is enhanced through the illustrations. The illustrations are an integral part of, or extend the meaning on the page. 
  • Design: All elements of the highest quality; the endpapers reflect the storyline; original presentation
  • Illustrations: The quality of medium use is excellent; the illustrations are fully entwined with the text on page and this enhances the story; the layout of illustrations provides a balance of space and text. There a consistent quality of illustration throughout the book. The artistic style, media and artistic elements of colour, line, shape and texture match the written text or idea. 

Eve Pownall Award Category 

  • Books with the purpose of documenting factual material. They both delight and inform.
  • Subject matter: Accuracy of data and the current state of knowledge. The book keeps the reader transfixed with the subject matter and may challenge the reader to explore the topic further. The book includes references.
  • Illustrations: There is integration of text, graphics and illustrations to engage interest and enhance understanding of the topic at a high standard. Illustrations are authentic and non-stereotypical. 
  • Layout: Integration of text, graphics and illustrations engage interest and enhance understanding.