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  • Published: 2 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775331
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $18.99

Locked Down




Jesse O's award-winning novel about a deadly pandemic and a family in lockdown, rereleased with all new illustrations by Toby Morris.

The deadly influenza pandemic XB276 is sweeping the country. Twelve-year-old Zac wakes up one morning to the news that everyone must stay home.

He can’t leave the house for weeks, or even months. Pretty soon he’s facing running out of food, with no electricity, no telephone and no internet. The only people he can count on are his family and closest neighbours.

As Zac faces each new challenge living under lockdown, he discovers resources he never knew he had - and mysteries begging to be solved.

This prescient and gripping novel about a nation in lockdown was written following the H1N1 global pandemic. It won a Storylines Junior Fiction Award in 2011.

  • Published: 2 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775331
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $18.99

About the authors

Jessica Le Bas

Jessica Le Bas is an award-winning poet and author who divides her time between Nelson, New Zealand and Rarotonga. As well as being mother to seven children, she has variously worked for the United Nations, as a private secretary to a government minister, as a truck driver, a restaurant manager and a high school teacher.

Her poems have been published in literary journals and collected in books. Her first poetry collection, Incognito, won the Best First Book of Poetry Award at the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. A second collection, Walking to Africa, which explored adolescent mental illness, released in 2009 and was a finalist in the 2010 Ashton Wylie Book Awards.

In 2010 the novel Staying Home, her first work for children, was published under the pseudonym Jesse O. It was researched and written after the outbreak of H1N1 swine flu, imagining a situation (at that time hypothetical) of New Zealand in lock down and won a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award in 2011. This imagined influenza pandemic scenario became reality in 2020, with the outbreak of Covid-19. Taking on a new relevance the novel rereleased in 2021, as Locked Down, with illustrations by Toby Morris.

In 2019, Jessica Le Bas won the prestigious Sarah Broom Poetry Prize for a sequence of poems described by the judge, Toronto Poet Laureate Anne Michaels, as ‘alive with detail acutely observed’.

Toby Morris

Toby Morris is an award-winning illustrator, cartoonist and art director known for the successful non-fiction comic series The Side Eye on the Spinoff and The Pencilsword on RNZ. With Toby Manhire, he is half of the Toby & Toby duo.
He has written several children's books including Capsicum, Capsi Go, The Day The Costumes Stuck, Don’t Puke On Your Dad and the graphic novel Te Tiriti O Waitangi and developed artwork for musicians including The Beths, Beastwars, Neil and Liam Finn, Ladyhawke and Phoenix Foundation, and diverse brands including Allbirds, L&P, Good George - even the Edmonds Baking Powder box! In 2020, his Covid-19 collaborations with Dr Siouxsie Wiles were shared around the world and he won Cartoonist of the Year at the New Zealand Media Awards.

Praise for Locked Down

[W]hat a mesmerising, totally excellent read...Highly recommended.

Naida Mulligan, The Southland Times

very believable

Angelique Simonsen, Good Reads

Half the fun is comparing the author’s projections with the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 and now 2021. There are some notable differences, which actually serve to make the narrative more believable, and you can see how a few significant decisions coming from the Government would have dramatically changed the course....Locked Down doesn’t shy away from tough topics. Dad’s death in an accident some time before the pandemic is keenly rendered. Young Zac’s journey of loss and acceptance is finely wrought, with the inclusion of his dad’s diaries adding a wonderful voice. A mystery is rounded up in a satisfying conclusion, as Zac tries to find the identity of the “egg thief,” a culprit who regularly steals their precious cargo of freshly laid eggs. Toby Morris’s charming illustrations provide a lively addition to this story which, at its heart, is about the power that comes from strengthening bonds with your family and neighbours.

Angelique Kasmara, Kete Books

It is cool how Jesse manages to get so many personalities into one family, and even better when you get to read about how they all manage together in a lockdown. From a bossy, phone and boy-obsessed older sister, to a younger brother who thinks he’s Spiderman, and an ancient French man who looks like he’s ex-army, to an uncle who lives online and gets inside information about the pandemic, Jesse O has you covered!

Aimee, 13 years, Palmerston North, Hooked on NZ Books

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