Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Margaret Mahy 1936-2012

Like all New Zealand children's writers - in fact, like everyone in New Zealand today, I'm saddened to hear of the death of Margaret Mahy yesterday. How many other writers are held in such high regard - and viewed with such warmth and affection? it's obvious from the tributes pouring in that she has shaped the reading habits and fed the imagination of thousands of children over the years.

One message that keeps being repeated is how much (and how often) people have enjoyed reading her books out loud, either to their own children, or to children in schools and libraries. So here is a small glimpse of our own reading history:

Hopefully you can tell from the creased spine and curling corners how much this book has been loved and enjoyed.

Even more obvious here (in fact I've just noticed that I've sellotaped the spine because it was falling apart from so many readings) and the story of the discovery and subsequent publication of this book - first published in the School Journal, now a classic - is a marvellous, magical tale in itself.

Here's another well-read favourite:

And so many more: A summery Saturday morning, The man whose mother was a pirate, The boy who was followed home, The witch in the cherry tree - all featuring Margaret's wild imagination, sense of the ridiculousness and beautiful, fantastical use of language.

And one more special memory of Margaret: hearing her recite Bubble trouble from memory; not only faultlessly, but with energy and verve and huge enjoyment in each word and rhyme as it rolled (or bounced!) off her tongue.

RIP Margaret, what a legacy.


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