Farewell to Margaret Mahy

2 August 2012

New Zealand has lost one of our most treasured authors. Margaret Mahy passed away in Christchurch on July 23th, aged 76. She leaves behind her a massive literary legacy, including more than 100 picture books, 40 novels and 20 collections of short stories. She won numerous awards throughout her prolific career, including the Hans Christian Anderson Award for contribution to children’s literature and most recently a New Zealand Post Book Award for The Moon and Farmer McPhee.

I had the pleasure of attending a talk with Margaret Mahy when I was about 9 years old. I remember a vivacious lady in a bright multi-coloured wig delivering her stories with gusto. She was more than happy to answer numerous questions from the children about her life, her writing and yes, her wig. I know I went away from the event feeling inspired by her enthusiasm and imaginative storytelling. It is an inspiration to all of us that someone from relatively humble beginnings can become such a huge international success, with her work being translated into 15 languages.

She will be sorely missed not only by her family and friends, but by every New Zealander who has enjoyed one of her many books. Her stories will be read by both children and adults for generations to come. And that surely is what all authors strive for.

In honour of this brilliant and beloved author, a group of New Zealand writers and illustrators are co-ordinating a Margaret Mahy Nationwide Read. Authors and illustrators from around the country will be reading Margaret’s work aloud at libraries and other venues around the country, at 11am on the 11th August. Helen will be reading at Karori Library in Wellington, along with illustrator Sabrina Malcolm. You can see details of events around the country on the website here
If you can’t make it to one of the events, or there isn’t one in your area, you might like to read your favourite Margaret Mahy book aloud wherever you are, or try out Fifi Colston’s Down The Back Of The Chair Craft, instructions for which can be found here.

Mary and Helen