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Joy Cowley

Joy_Cowley_reading_at_the_Storylines_Festival_1.JPGJoy Cowley is a fiction writer of equal accomplishment for both adults and children, also internationally known for her astonishing contribution of more than 600 titles to educational series and to the promotion of reading. 

Joy, one New Zealand's finest children's storytellers, was born in Levin in 1936. Joy was the eldest of five children. Due to her parents' health the family struggled financially but they were 'very rich in family experience.' Joy's own difficulties with learning to read has led to her passionate advocacy for children struggling to read. Fortunately, she discovered the story hidden within the words, and these drew her into reading.

As an adult Joy had many different jobs, beginning as a pharmacist's apprentice, then mother and farmer's wife. During those years Joy wrote and sold short stories, one of which led to the publication of five novels, between 1967 and 1978. The first of these, Nest in a Falling Tree, was made into a film scripted by Roald Dahl and starring his wife, Patricia Neal. After several more adult novels, and now with four children, she began writing for children. Joy's children's writing career began when she wrote stories for her son, Edward, a slow reader. Teachers picked up on these and they asked for them to be published. For the next two decades Joy devoted herself entirely to publishing school readers for educational programmes, short stories and the occasional novel for young readers, as well as carrying out an increasingly demanding schedule of teaching and promoting reading in America and other countries, travelling offshore for up to three months of the year. Joy’s 1981 novel, The Silent One, was made into a movie, and won the inaugural Book of the Year Award.

Joy published her sixth adult novel in 1999. Now Joy varies her writing time: adult writing - articles, spiritual reflection material, stories and novels; and children's books. Most of her writing time is spent answering letters from her young fans around the world.

Two of her children's characters have achieved iconic status, especially in New Zealand and America: Greedy Cat (image by illustrator Robyn Belton) and Mrs Wishy-Washy (image by Elizabeth Fuller). Both featured originally in school readers and, more recently, in picture book format for the trade market. Her picture book Brodie, illustrated by Chris Mousdale, was written in response to teachers' requests for a book about the death of children. Iin 2004, to acknowledge her outstanding contribution to New Zealand Literature, she was presented with the A.W. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

In recent years Joy Cowley has returned to adult fiction with Classical Music, shortlisted for the 2002 Montana Fiction Award, and Holy Days. A long-time resident in a remote bay in the Marlborough Sounds, and renowned for the hospitality offered at her nearby community house 'Te Aroha', she now lives in Wellington and enjoys visits from her 13 grandchildren.

Joy is one of Storylines patrons and trustees, and her support of the organisation and the outstanding contribution she makes to both children's literature and literacy in New Zealand and internationally led to the establishment of the The Joy Cowley Award, by Storylines, in 2002. In her spare time Joy enjoys 'spinning, weaving, woodwork, sailing, [and] fishing'. Coincidently the Storylines patrons, Joy and Margaret Mahy, share the same birth year and both had their first books published in the same year, 1969.

Joy's 1993 Margaret Mahy Medal lecture - Influences is available for download.

 

Selected bibliography:
 
  • The Duck in the Gun illustrated by Edward Sorel (Doubleday 1969).  
  • The Silent One illustrated by Sherryl Jordan (Whitcoulls 1981).
  • The Terrible Taniwha of Timberditch illustrated by Rodney Mc Rae (Oxford University Press 1982).
  • Two of a Kind Stories with Mona Williams, illustrated by Jane Amos (Blackberry Press 1984).  
  • Salmagundi illustrated by Philip Webb (Oxford University Press 1985). 
  • Pawprints in the Butter: A Collection of Cats by Joy Cowley and friends (Mallinson Rendel 1991).  
  • Bow Down, Shadrach illustrated by Robyn Belton (Hodder & Stoughton 1991).  
  • Happy Birthday, Mrs. Felonius illustrated by Trevor Pye (Omnibus 1992).
  • The Day of the Rain illustrated by Bob Kerr (Mallinson Rendel 1993).  
  • The Screaming Mean Machine illustrated by David Cox (Ashton Scholastic 1993).
  • Beyond the River (Scholastic 1994, published in US as The Hitchhikers: Stories from Joy Cowley)
  • Song of the River illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Ashton Scholastic 1994).  
  • Write On!: Joy Cowley' s Guide for Young Authors illustrated by Trevor Pye (Ashton Scholastic 1994).
  • Gladly, Here I Come (Viking 1994).
  • The Day of the Snow illustrated by Bob Kerr (Mallinson Rendel 1994).  
  • Tulevai and the Sea illustrated by Manu Smith (Scholastic 1995).  
  • The Day of the Wind illustrated by Trevor Pye (Mallinson Rendel 1995).  
  • Sea Daughter illustrated by Manu Smith (Scholastic 1995).  
  • The Mouse Bride illustrated by David Christiana (Ashton Scholastic 1995).  
  • The Cheese Trap illustrated by Linda McClelland (Ashton Scholastic 1995, published as The Mouse Trap in the USA).
  • Nicketty-Nacketty-Noo-Noo-Noo illustrated by Tracey Moroney (Scholastic 1995).
  • Brave Mama Puss illustrated by Trevor Pye (Reed 1995).
  • Papa Puss to the Rescue illustrated by Trevor Pye (Reed 1995).
  • Mabel and the Marvelous Meow Illustrated by Trevor Pye (Reed 1995).
  • Oscar in Danger illustrated by Trevor Pye (Reed 1995).  
  • Questions Kids Ask Joy Cowley (Scholastic 1996).  
  • Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Scholastic 1996).  
  • Elephant Rhymes illustrated by Brent Putze (Scholastic 1997).
  • The Great Bamboozle illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic 1997).
  • A Haunting Tale illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic 1997).
  • Singing Down the Rain illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (HarperCollins 1997).
  • The Bump illustrated by Linda McClelland (Scholastic 1997).
  • Mrs Wishy-Washy's Splishy-Sploshy illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Philomel Books 1997)
  • Ticket to the Sky Dance (Viking 1997).  
  • Starbright and the Dream-Eater (Penguin 1998).
  • The Wild West Gang illustrated by Trevor Pye (HarperCollins 1998).  
  • Mrs Wishy Washy's Scrubbing Machine illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Philomel 1998)
  • Big Moon Tortilla illustrated by Dyanne Stronbow (Boyds Mills Press 1998).
  • The Rusty, Trusty Tractor illustrated by Olivia Dunrea (Boyds Mills Press 1999).
  • The Red-eyed Tree Frog photos by Nic Bishop (Scholastic 1999).
  • The Video Shop Sparrow illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Mallinson Rendel 1999).
  • More of the Wild Wests illustrated by Trevor Pye (Harper Collins 1999).
  • Agapanthus Hum and the Eyeglasses illustrated by Jennifer Piecas (Philomel 1999).
  • Shadrach Girl (Puffin Books 2000).
  • Apple Banana Cherry illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Scholastic 2000).
  • Cricket's Storm illustrated by Gary Sullivan (Scholastic 2000).
  • The Wild Wests and Pong Castle illustrated by Trevor Pye (Harper Collins 2000).
  • The Wild Wests and the Haunted Fridge illustrated by Trevor Pye (Harper Collins 2001).
  • Brodie illustrated by Chris Mousdale (Scholastic 2001).  
  • Eating Plums in Bed illustrated by Jenna Packer (Scholastic 2001).  
  • Pip the Penguin illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Scholastic 2001).
  • Pudding illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Scholastic 2001).
  • Agapanthus Hum and Major Bark illustrated by Jennifer Piecas (Philomel Books 2001).  
  • Pigeon Princess: A Modern Fantasy illustrated by Robyn Belton (Shortland 2001).
  • Mrs Goodstory illustrated by Erica Dornsbusch (Boyd's Mills Press 2001).
  • Agapanthus Hum and the Angel Hoot illustrated by Jennifer Piecas (Philomel Books 2002).
  • Froghopper (HarperCollins 2002).
  • Duck Walk illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Scholastic 2002).
  • Weta: A Knight in Shining Armour photographs by Rod Morris (Scholastic 2002).
  • Mr Wishy Washy illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Penguin 2003).
  • Mrs Wishy Washy Makes a Splash! illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Penguin 2003, first published as Wishy-Washy Day by Wright Group 1993).
  • Mrs Wishy-Washy's Farm illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Philomel Books 2003).
  • Where Horses Run Free: A Dream for the American Mustang illustrated by Layne Johnson (Boyds Mill Press 2003).
  • Froghopper and the Paua Poachers (HarperCollins 2003).
  • A Letter from Fish Bay photographs by Terry Coles (HarperCollins 2003).
  • Mr Wishy-Washy illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Penguin 2003, first published as Dishy-washy by Wright Group 1993).
  • The Little Tractor illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Scholastic 2004).  
  • The Wishing of Biddy Malone illustrated by Christopher Denise (Philomel Books 2004).
  • Wild West Hullaballoo illustrated by Trevor Pye (Harper Collins 2004).
  • Greedy Cat and the School Pet Show illustrated by Robyn Belton (Scholastic 2004).  
  • Hunter (Philomel Books 2004).
  • Chameleon, Chameleon photos by Nic Bishop (Scholastic 2005).
  • Mrs Wishy-Washy's Christmas illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller (Puffin Books 2005).
  • Joseph's Story illustrations by David Hughson (Open Home Foundation International 2006).
  • Greedy Cat and the Sneeze illustrated by Robyn Belton (Scholastic 2006).
  • Snake and Lizard illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press 2007).
  • Chicken Feathers illustrated by David Elliot (Philomel Books 2008).
  • The Bedtime Train illustrated by Jamison Odone (Front Street 2008).
  • Friends: Snake and Lizard illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press 2009).
  • Cowshed Christmas illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Random House 2009).
  • Greedy Cat and the Goldfish illustrated by Robyn Belton (Scholastic 2009).
  • Târore and Her Book with historical paintings by Mary Glover Bibby (One Nineteen Books 2009).
  • Fly Pie illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic 2010).
  • Growing Strong photographs by Terry Coles (Pleroma 2010).
  • Too Many Cats illustrated by Amber Edwards (Roz Edwards 2010).  
  • Just One More: Stories illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press 2011).
  • Robby and Hoot illustrated by Phillip Fickling (Puffin 2011).
  • Stories of the Wild West Gang illustrated by Trevor Pye (Gecko Press 2011).
  • The Easter Story illustrated by Donald Morris (Pleroma Press 2011).
  • Manukura: The White Kiwi illustrated by Bruce Potter (Random House 2012).
  • Wishy-Washy World illustrated by Philip Webb (Reading Alive 2012).

 

Awards:
  • Children's Book of the Year 1982 for The Silent One.
  • Commemoration Medal for services to New Zealand 1990.
  • OBE 1992.
  • New Zealand Government Publishing Awards - New Zealand Children's Book of the Year Award 1992 for Bow Down Shadrach.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1992Fiction Winner  for Bow Down Shadrach.
  • Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal 1993.
  • New Zealand Women' s Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993
  • Honorary Doctorate from Massey University 1993.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1994 Picture Book shortlist for The Day of the Rain.
  • Esther Glen Award 1995 shortlist for Gladly, Here I Come.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1995 Junior Fiction shortlist for Gladly, Here I Come.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1996 Picture Book shortlist for Tulevai and the Sea.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1997 Picture Book shortlist for Nicketty-nacketty, Noo-noo-noo.
  • Esther Glen Award 1998shortlist  for Ticket to the Sky Dance.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1998 Junior Fiction Winner for Ticket to the Sky Dance.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999 Junior Fiction Shortlist for The Wild West Gang.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999 Junior Fiction Winner for Starbright and the Dream Eater.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2000 Picture Book shortlist for The Video Shop Sparrow.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2000 Picture Book list for The Video Shop Sparrow.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2000 Junior Fiction list for More of the Wild Wests.
  • White Ravens List 2000 for The Video Shop Sparrow.
  • Esther Glen Award 2001 shortlist for Shadrach Girl.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2001 Junior Fiction Winner for Shadrach Girl.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2001 Picture Book List for Apple Banana Cherry.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2001 Junior Fiction list for Shadrach Girl.
  • Robert Long Medal (USA) 2002.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2002 Picture Book Winner for Brodie.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2002 Picture Books list for Brodie.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2002 Junior Fiction list for The Wild Wests and the Haunted Fridge.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2003 Picture Book list for Duck Walk.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2003 Junior Fiction list for Froghopper.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2003 Non-fiction list for Weta: A Knight in Shining Armour.
  • The AW Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature 2004 .
  • Storylines Notable Books 2004 Picture Book list for Mrs Wishy-Washy's Farm.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2004 Junior Fiction list for Froghopper and the Paua Poachers.
  • Esther Glen Award 2005 shortlist for Wild West Hullabaloo.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2005 Picture Book list for The Wishing of Biddy Malone.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2005 Junior Fiction list for Wild West Hullabaloo.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2006 Junior Fiction Winner for Hunter.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2006 Book of the Year for Hunter.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2006 Junior Fiction list for Hunter.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2007 Picture Book list for Greedy Cat and the Sneeze.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2008 Junior Fiction Winner for Snake and Lizard.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2008 Junior Fiction list for Snake and Lizard.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2008 Book of the Year for Snake and Lizard.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2009 Junior Fiction shortlist for Chicken Feathers.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2010 Junior Fiction finalist for Friends:Snake and Lizard.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2010 Picture Book finalist for Cowshed Christmas.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2010 Junior Fiction Children's Choice category winner for Friends: Snake and Lizard.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2010 Picture Book list for Cowshed Christmas.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2010 Picture Bookslist for Greedy Cat and the Sneeze.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2010 Junior Fiction list for Friends: Snake and Lizard.
  • LIANZA Esther Glen Award 2010 finalist for Friends: Snake and Lizard.
  • Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in fiction 2010.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2012 Junior Fiction list - special mention - for Just One More.

 

Website & other resources:


Storylines thanks zeald.com for their ongoing support of the Storylines website.

Page checked and updated February 2013.

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