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  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775966
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.00


No training could have prepared Frank for a dangerous coastwatching mission against the Japanese in this award-winning WWII novel by David Hill

David Hill's tense, exciting war adventure inspired by the coastwatchers of Operation Pacific - winner of the 2022 NZSA Heritage Children's Book Award.

‘It’s not going to be a cushy job, young Benson. You’re on your own. Japs will be looking for you. Far as they’re concerned, you’re spies. And when a spy gets captured, remember . . .’

It’s 1943, and 19-year-old radio operator Frank Benson is shipped out to an enemy-occupied island in the Solomons with two other soldiers. Their mission is to spy on the Japanese.

In dense jungle they meet a Solomon Islander who says he has information that will shatter Japanese defences. But he could be working for the enemy. What if it’s a trap to get them killed?

No training could have prepared Frank for this decision. Their lives - and Operation Pacific - depend on his next move.

  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775966
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.00

About the author

David Hill

David Hill is a prolific and highly regarded New Zealand writer, playwright, poet, columnist and critic. Best known for his highly popular and award-winning body of work for young people, ranging from picture books to teenage fiction, his novels have been published all around the world and translated into several languages, and his short stories and plays for young people have been broadcast here and overseas.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, David studied at Victoria University of Wellington and became a high-school teacher, teaching both in New Zealand and the UK. In 1982 he became a full-time writer and his first novel for teenagers, See Ya, Simon (1992), about a boy with muscular dystrophy, was shortlisted for major awards in New Zealand and the UK and won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. An enduringly popular novel used as a class text in high schools all over New Zealand, in 2002 it was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book.

David has published more than 50 titles over four decades. His middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Librarian's Choice Award and was listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book, a White Raven and an IBBY Honour book. This was followed by novels Brave Company (2014) – also a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book; The Deadly Sky (2015); Enemy Camp (2016), which won the 2016 HELL Children’s Choice Award for Junior Fiction; Flight Path (2017), a Storylines Notable Book; Finding (May 2018), Highly Commended in the New Zealand Heritage Book Awards 2018; and Coastwatcher (2021).

Below (2022) won the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2023. Described as 'a white-knuckle survival story set in a catastrophic tunnel collapse', the judges commended the way 'it trusts its young readers to handle big environmental ideas and come to their own conclusions'.

David is also the author of a number of critically acclaimed picture books with illustrator Phoebe Morris. First to the Top (2015) is their bestselling story of the life of Sir Edmund Hillary, which won the 2016 Children's Choice Award for non-fiction and was a 2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Speed King (2016), about the world-record-breaking achievements of Burt Munro, and Sky High (2017), recounting the life of the daring aviator Jean Batten, were both presented with Storylines Notable Picture Book awards. Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake's Mighty Ocean Quests was published in 2018 and Dinosaur Hunter: Joan Wiffen's Awesome Fossil Discoveries was published in 2019.

In 2004 David was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2005 he was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, acknowledging his significant contribution to children's literature in New Zealand.

In November 2021 David was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - Fiction in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand Literature.

He lives in New Plymouth with his wife Beth, and juggles his many writing projects with numerous school visits, leading professional development for teachers, mentoring new and emerging writers and tutoring creative writing.

Also by David Hill

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Praise for Coastwatcher

Hill knows how to draw young readers in and keep them on the edge of their seats...it will delight teens looking for a bit of action.

Linda Thompson, Rotorua Daily Post

Coastwatcher was unpredictable, with high action excitement that continued throughout the book, making it a real page-turner. I didn’t put it down, instead staying up far too late reading it all in one go! If you are interested in World War II, history or the Pacific, I recommend you read this book, as you won’t be disappointed.

Daniel Lovewell, 12 years, Hooked On NZ Books

I am always confident when I pick up a novel by David Hill that I am in safe hands and Coastwatcher is no exception. Hill's writing is, as always, well-crafted with a good pace and authentic feel. And the story is a cracker...Frank must face some major challenges and be the person he will have to live with for the rest of his life. Can he square his soldiering ambitions with his own compassionate nature and how will the consequences of his actions play out? There are plenty of important issues raised here which will give young readers much to think about. Did Frank do the right thing? Does war justify changing who we are inside? ...This is a great read.

Melinda Szymanik, Kids Books NZ

Hill’s storytelling in Coastwatcher is fresh, honest, and descriptive...Fiery metal and saltwater are intertwined with timeless themes of friendship, trust, sacrifice, and hope.

Azariah Alfante, NZ Booklovers

Tension and friendship reign supreme.

Laura Caygill, Judges' commentary, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Awards & recognition

Storylines Notable Book Award

Awarded  •  2022  •  A Storylines Notable Young Adult Book

The NZSA New Zealand Heritage Literary Awards

Winner  •  2022  •  Children's Book Award

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Finalist  •  2022  •  Young Adult Fiction Award

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Real Readers Review: Coastwatcher

Looking for your kid's next great read? Let our Puffin Ambassadors tell you why you should pick up Coastwatcher, a thrilling adventure novel for 9+ readers.