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Jack Lasenby

Jack Lasenby is one of our finest writers for children. 'Perhaps the most innately New Zealand writer of all New Zealand writers for children,' according to Margaret Mahy (NZ Listener). He has been recognised by being awarded the 2014 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - for Fiction. He writes of heartland New Zealand - small towns, farms, and the bush, of the Depression era, as well as futuristic novels of great depth. He's 'observant, erudite, witty and often caustic'. His novels inspired Judith Holloway to rank him with Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee as 'children's writers whose themes, originality and sheer literariness makes them almost as important and entertaining to adults' (NZ Books). John Marsden wrote of Lasenby's post-apocalypse title Because We Were the Travellers, that it was, 'Intense, vivid, poetic - a cruel and beautiful book.' Jack Lasenby was born in Waharoa, New Zealand in 1931. During the 1950s he was a deer-culler and possum trapper in the Ureweras. He's a former school teacher, lecturer in English at the Wellington Teachers' College, and editor of the School Journal. Jack Lasenby has been awarded many fellowships including the Writer's Fellowship at the Victoria University of Wellington, the Writer in Residence at the Dunedin College of Education, the Sargeson Fellowship in Auckland and was awarded the prestigious Margaret Mahy Medal in 2003 and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book in 2012 for his first collection of stories, Uncle Trev. The Jack Lasenby Award was established by the Wellington Book Association in 2002. He's the author of over 30 books for children, which include the Aunt Effie series, the Uncle Trev titles, 'The Sedden Street Gang' trilogy, 'The Travellers' quartet and the Harry Wakatipu books. He has been the recipient many times of the most highly regarded children's book awards: the Esther Glen Medal, the Aim Children's Book Award, and the New Zealand Post Children's Book Award. His award-winning books include The Lake, The Conjuror, The Waterfall, The Battle of Pook Island, Because We Were the Travellers and most recently, in 2009, the New Zealand Post Junior Fiction Award for Old Drumble and in 2012, the New Zealand Post Young Adult Fiction Award for Calling the Gods. The characters who inhabit Lasenby's stories vary enormously: from the anarchic and street-smart gang in Dead Man's Head to the hilarious and ludicrous, lazy pack-horse Harry Wakatipu; from the green canvas invalid's pyjama wearing Aunt Effie who leads her 26 nieces and nephews on a wild ark ride over the Vast Untrodden Ureweras to the lone boy and old woman who are the Travellers. Jack Lasenby lives in Wellington where he cares for his much-loved garden, and sets aside time most days for writing and reading.

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