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  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775966
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $19.99


No training could have prepared Frank for a dangerous coastwatching mission against the Japanese in this WWII novel by David Hill, winner of the 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Fiction

A tense, exciting war adventure inspired by the coastwatchers of Operation Pacific, from award-winning YA author David Hill.

‘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: $19.99

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 40 titles over the past three decades. His recent middle-grade novels include My Brother's War (2012), which in 2013 won the Junior Fiction Award and the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the 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; and Finding (May 2018).

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.

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Praise for Coastwatcher

Hill’s storytelling in Coastwatcher is fresh, honest, and descriptive. Although they are fictional, Frank, Willy, and Les are skilfully portrayed, reminding us that soldiers are also humans with their own quirks, concerns, jokes, desires, and regrets. The Solomon Islanders are depicted as individuals with hardships, dreams, and sheer determination to survive under Japanese occupation and the presence of Allied troops. Hill emphasises the bleak uncertainty of war, particularly from the perspectives of inexperienced, foreign soldiers. Fiery metal and saltwater are intertwined with timeless themes of friendship, trust, sacrifice, and hope. Coastwatchers not only tells a story but encourages readers to learn about the pasts and peoples of the Pacific. The book’s appendices comprise a helpful glossary and beginner’s guide to Morse Code, often used by signallers during the World Wars. Written in an informative and enthused manner, this novel would appeal to young readers and fans of historical fiction and military studies. In fact, for those interested in learning about New Zealand and Pacific history, Hill’s Coastwatchers would be an excellent starting point.

Azariah Alfante, NZ Booklovers

I found that 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

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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.

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