8 March 2013
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The word-eater written by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Bob Kerr. This story and illustrations were first displayed as a ‘big book’ in the children’s section of the Central Library during Christchurch’s Books and Beyond Festival in 1998. Margaret Mahy set the story in and around the library. Bob Kerr painted the pictures during the time the book was on display.
- Our Margaret Mahy pages
- Margaret Mahy images and articles on DigitalNZ
- More local pictures on the blog
- New Zealand Book Month images
- Browse our image collection
3 August 2012
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Being a reluctant learner at school, I never had a lot of time for reading. I definitely wasn’t a fan of books with chapters. My parents were probably disgusted, especially as Dad was a librarian and Mum a primary school teacher. I hated reading with a passion, and once even tried sending my brother up to the teacher to do mine for me.
However, a fond memory I do have is one day I was sitting in my primary school classroom when a sparkly, spirited Margaret Mahy arrived wearing a rainbow coloured wig. This wonderful appearance naturally made me interested. Mahy’s fantastic, bubbly, character and amazing narrative won me over. Unlike most adults, she knew how to enter the world of children which made her truly unique.
A great picture book is multifaceted, complemented by illustrations and appeals to adults as much as they do children. Mahy’s books such as A Lion in the Meadow, The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and The Spider in the Shower illustrate her wonderful imagination. Children can put themselves in the shoes of the characters in these stories.
Sitting at Margaret’s farewell, in Hagley Park Geo Dome, it did occur to me how important it is that teachers, parents and caregivers try to understand what is going on in the world of children. Sometimes, the story itself isn’t enough, it is how it is told. As the service went on with renowned New Zealand literary greats, such as Tessa Duder, Rosie Belton, Gavin Bishop and Kate De Goldi paying homage to this wonderful New Zealander, I loved the fact a little girl came back and forth to pat the guide dog of an attendee, you could hear children playing and birds chirping in Hagley Park and oddly enough I had a ladybird fly into the Dome and settle on me. I think Margaret would love knowing this occurred.
Mahy’s books will continue to be cherished by future generations of children nationally and internationally and no doubt reprinted. Check out her wonderful collection at Christchurch City Libraries. Interestingly, this reluctant reader is now a trained librarian.
Rest in peace Margaret, you will never be forgotten.
1 August 2012
25 July 2012
On Monday evening, I was on Twitter enjoying some Te Reo discussions. Tweets began to filter through that Margaret Mahy had died. They were tentative and probing tweets as people tried to discover if it was true. Her Wikipedia article had date of death added, Whitcoulls had a Facebook post, but many of us were eager to believe it was a hoax or misinformation.
But when Bookman Beattie posted R.I.P. Margaret Mahy 21 March 1936 – 23 July 2012 the librarians and journalists amongst us realised it was true. Gutted. We were gutted. I didn’t go to bed until much later – after a lot of emotional online sharing.
Monday had been a big day. Our new Central Library Tuam opened. Our wonderful and popular South Library closed after its seismic capacity was evaluated at less than 34 percent of the New Building Standard (NBS).
Margaret had of course been our Children’s Librarian – a Kiwi character, ardent library supporter and a peerless imaginative writer. A huge huge loss.
On Tuesday I donned a fuzzy wig in tribute to Margaret. It was her thing to wear the fro, or a costume – and I wanted to do a wee tribute. My daughter tried to wrestle it off me in the morning. No-one on the bus batted an eye. Librarians (many who had worked with Margaret) enjoyed my getup and shared their Mahy memories. We went wiggy online too – decorating our avatars on Twitter and Facebook.
On the bus home, a gent said “I love the look”. I said “Do you know what it’s about?”. He said “Oh yes, I saw you the other day dressed as a gargoyle”. Seemed to me a Mahy moment.
Explore our Margaret Mahy resources:
- Our Margaret Mahy pages. We have added a selection of the tributes and obituaries to the More information page.
- Read Down the back of the chair and The Word-Eater (set in our own Central Library, with cool illustrations from Bob Kerr).
- Margaret Mahy books and more in our collection.
- Images on Flickr.
4 March 2012
After being unable to choose just one favourite New Zealand writer, I’ve been pondering my favourite New Zealand book, somehow a slightly easier task as one book immediately came to mind.
The changeover by Margaret Mahy is the one. I first came across it while working at home machining sheepskin slippers; Sharon Crosbie and the National Programme kept me sane.
One day the regular morning reading began with the lines “Although the label on the hair shampoo said Paris…” and I was hooked. I can’t remember who the reader was, but The changeover set me off on one of the best journeys I have ever taken with an author.
So of course I went to the library, got it out, read it, loved it even more, bought my own copy, studied it at University without coming to loathe it, and still think about it sometimes.
Although I have read all of Margaret Mahy’s books now, The changeover is still my favourite, I’m not sure why. It might be the steadfast love Laura Chant shows for her little brother Jacko, it might be the romance with Sorensen (Sorry – best name ever, probably a blessing I did not have a son) Carlisle, it might be the way the adults are real too, not just the teenagers.
What’s your favourite New Zealand book ?