Margaret Mahy 21.3.1936 – 23.7.2012

Friends gave our daughter a copy of The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate for her first birthday.

It was the first Margaret Mahy book I’d read and I was hooked from the first page.

Her wonderful way with words, her quirky use of language and unique view of the world made her books firm favourites in our household.

I read of her death yesterday, with great sadness.

The New Zealand Book Council details her achievements and contributions to literature here.

Storylines profiles her here.

A Kate De Goldi tribute in the Listener is here.

Her essay A Dissolving Ghost, Possible Operations of Truth in Children’s Books and the Lives of Children is here.

At NZ On Screen is  the documentary Made in New Zealand – Margaret Mahy. (Hat Tip for those link to Toby Manhire who writes: Weaver of magic, wearer of wigs, Mahy lives on in thousands of homes in New Zealand and elsewhere, her pages wrinkled from reading after reading.

Beattie’s Book Blog has a story which sums up her reputation and influence:

. . . One little story from a visit I made to an American library back in the late 1980’s. I was in the public library in the
small Connecticut town of Westport with the pre-school son of a friend. At one stage I took a photograph of him sitting looking at a picture book and was immediately reprimanded by the librarian who tersely asked “had I not seen the sign saying no photography?”. I apologised and upon noticing my accent she asked me where I was from. New Zealand I said. Oh my she said I don’t suppose you know
Margaret Mahy? Indeed I do I said, I know Margaret very well. Oh in that case she said please feel free to take as many photographs as you like! She then gave me a guided tour of the library which included two large full colour posters featuring Margaret and her books. And she talked endlessly and enthusiastically about Margaret’s genius and about listening her speak at a librarian’s conference.And then insisted on making me a cup of coffee. . .

She was a treasure, her books will continue to be so.

In memory of a great story person I offer these words of comfort from Brian Andreas at Story People  to those who knew and lover her:

It is still so new & all we see is the empty space, but that is not how it
is in the landscape of the heart. There, there is no empty space & she still
laughs & grapples with ideas & plans & nods wisely with each of us
in turn. We are proud to have known her. We are proud to have called her friend.

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