Werry, Philippa

Werry, Philippa



In Brief

Philippa Werry writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays for children and young adults, as well as articles, reviews and non-fiction for adults. Her work has been widely published, broadcast on National Radio, included in anthologies and shortlisted for a number of awards, including the 2004 Australian Bilby Awards, the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards (2009 and 2014) and the 2014 LIANZA awards. Werry was the winner of the Jack Lasenby Award in 2006, and the recipient of the NZSA mid-career writer's award in 2010.


Werry, Philippa (1958- ) is a librarian and children’s writer whose non-fiction, poetry, stories and plays have been widely published, and also broadcast on National Radio.

Werry’s work has appeared in the anthologies The Puffin NZ Story Book (Puffin, 1996), Funny Stories for 6 Year Olds (Macmillan, 1999), Another 100 Poems for New Zealand Children (Random House, 2001), Poetry Pudding (Reed, 2007) and Showtime! (Random House, 2008). She has written over one hundred pieces for the School Journal and Connected, as well as writing plays and stories for Gilt Edge Publishing, South Pacific Press, Pearson Education (Australia) and Radio New Zealand.

Two books, Sun Bears Are Special and Mmm, Popcorn were published as part of the ‘Ready to Read’ series. My Little Sister and We Get Squished were both included in ‘Learning Media First Stories’. Werry has also written books in the 'Orbit Additions', 'Orbit Collections', 'Applications and choices' and 'New Heights' series' for Learning Media.

The Lost Watch by Philippa Werry with illustrations by Alice Bell (Scholastic, 2003) is described by Margie Thomson in the Weekend Herald as a ‘short, race-through story that will gladden the hearts of small boys’. It was also praised by Raymond Huber in New Zealand New Books: 'Werry’s description of family life has humour and is realistic…the slightly crazed, wide-eyed characters will (hopefully) attract the TV generation.' It was shortlisted in Australia for the 2004 Bilby Awards, the annual Children's Choice awards for the state of Queensland.

Werry’s second Scholastic book, Wonderful Wheels Day, also with illustrations by Alice Bell, was published in 2004.

Werry was the winner of the 2006 Jack Lasenby Award for her story 'Stopping for Charlie'.

The Great Chocolate Cake Bake-Off (Scholastic, 2007) is a story for 8-12 year olds about families, friendship and chocolate cake. The Children’s Bookshop newsletter describes it as 'A funny, fast-moving and delectable read for ages 10 plus about overcoming your fears.' The work was listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Enemy at the gate (Scholastic, 2008) is a historical novel for 10-14 year olds, set in Wellington and based around the polio epidemic of 1936-37. 'This is an excellent record of New Zealand society when a telephone and car were not part of the working class households and people relied on neighbours and extended family to cope with any crisis.' Magpies, Vol 23, Issue 2, May 2008, p.7 (NZ section) Enemy at the Gate was nominated in the Junior Fiction section of the 2009 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

A girl called Harry (Scholastic, 2010) was listed as a 2011 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Anzac Day: The New Zealand story was published by New Holland Publishers in 2013. The book was a finalist in the Non-Fiction category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and the 2014 Lianza Children's Book Awards, and was also listed as a 2014 Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book.

Lighthouse family (Scholastic, 2013) tells the story of Frances and her family, living on a lighthouse during the time of the threatened Japanese invasion in World War Two. It was listed as a 2014 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book, and like Harbour bridge (Scholastic, 2014), it is part of the My New Zealand story series.

Best mates, a picture book illustrated by Bob Kerr, was published by New Holland Publishers in 2014. Barbara Murison reviewed the book, commenting that 'Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr have collaborated here to bring a graphic picture together in simple-but-telling words and stunning illustrations of the Gallipoli Campaign, of friendship, and of the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers who were involved.'

In 2015, Werry's non-fiction children's book Waitangi Day - the New Zealand Story: What it is and why it matters was published. Reviewing the events surrounding the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, Waitangi Day is an informative and visually-appealing account of the most significant day in New Zealand's history. The book featured on the NZ Listener’s 50 Best Books for Kids list in 2015, and was a finalist for the Children’s Choice award in the 2015 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Waitangi Day was listed as a Storylines Notable Book in 2016.

Armistice Day - the New Zealand Story: What it is and why it matters was released in February 2016. The third New Zealand Story title from Philippa Werry, Armistice Day commemorates the day that First World War fighting ceased in November 1918. Covering the final months of battle and the aftermath of war, the book is an engaging history that allows children to learn about an integral moment in New Zealand's past. Reviewing the book, Kathy Watson of BooksellersNZ said that Armistice Day " is an excellent resource for students of war, but more importantly, of peace”.

Werry is the 2016 Friends of ANZAC Bridge Fellow, which enables her to visit rural schools in both New Zealand and Australia for literary purposes.


Updated April 2016.