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What's the story? is Storylines' newsletter. It includes news and information about children's literature around New Zealand as well as internationally.
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Margaret Mahy

Margaret Mahy (21 March 1936 - 23 July 2012).
Margaret_Mahy_reading_Dashing_Dog_1.jpgMargaret Mahy was internationally considered one of the world’s greatest 20th / 21st century writers in English for both young children and teenagers. Her career also included writing for theatre and major television series for both adults and children. In recent years she also become widely recognised as a fine essayist, public speaker and reviewer and commentator on children’s literature. In 2006 Margaret was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.
Since her first picture books launched simultaneously in New York and London in 1969, among them the classic A Lion in the Meadow, through a series of award-winning novels in the 1980s, right up to the present time, she delighted and inspired children and adults alike.      
Margaret's body of work, since her first published story for the School Journal in 1961, is unmatched in New Zealand. Few authors anywhere in the world have been equally successful writing picture books and story collections for the very young as well as substantial, ground-breaking novels for older teenagers. She was regarded as a writer prepared to take risks, a fine stylist, a magical storyteller with an apparently inexhaustible flow of ideas, an inventive master of language.      
Margaret's love of story, and her ability to internalise it, was evident at an early age: 'I certainly felt it should be possible to pull some other life over my head and strut around in it, convincing all observers and winning their admiration.'
Dorothy Butler wrote 'One might devote a whole book to Margaret Mahy's capacity for true story-making and -telling, her warmth and humour, the richness and flow of her language, her almost miraculous insight into child nature and need.... that Margaret Mahy combines this essence of true human-ness with qualities of imagination and vitality is part of her secret. Margaret Mahy's work, at its most riotous or nonsensical, its most mystical and fantastic, or its most feet-on-the-ground, has an underlying gentleness, an acceptance and enjoyment of people as they are.' The Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award was established in 1991 to recognise the outstanding contribution Margaret Mahy makes, nationally and internationally, to literature for children. Margaret is a patron of Storylines.
Her 200-plus titles include novels, novellas, many picture books, collections, non-fiction, and more than a hundred ‘school readers’ for the educational programmes which comprise two-thirds of New Zealand’s book exports. Her work has been consistently published for over thirty years in more than 15 languages.
Among her multiple awards are the 1982 and the 1984 Carnegie Medal in Britain (for The Haunting and The Changeover), the Observer Teenage Fiction award (for Memory), and a number of other major awards or ‘best’ or ‘notable’ book citations in America, Canada, Holland and Italy. 
In New Zealand she won the Esther Glen Medal and New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award multiple times, and been the recipient of two major Lifetime Achievement awards. She was President of Honour of the New Zealand Society of Authors (Pen Inc.) in 1997, and was nominated in 2002 and 2004, for the world’s most prestigious honour for children’s writers, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal – winning it on the third nomination in 2006.
She was New Zealand’s most decorated living writer, being the only author ever appointed an Ordinary Member of New Zealand Order of Merit (1993) and the recipient of two honorary doctorates of letters from the University of Canterbury, in 1993, and the University of Waikato, 2005. Her entry on the Honours' website states: 'She is regarded as one of the foremost authors of children's literature and is said to be one of the best living authors in the English language'.
Her latest honours included the Phoenix Award for The Catalogue of the Universe, presented in June 2005 by the Children’s Literature Association at a conference in Winnipeg and also in 2007 for Memory. This award is given annually to a book originally published in English 20 years previously which did not receive a major award at the time of its publication.
Born in Whakatane in 1936, and educated at Auckland and Christchurch universities, Margaret Mahy is survived by two daughters and seven grandchildren. She lived most of her adult life in Governors Bay, Lyttelton.
Principal reference and further reading: Margaret Mahy: A Writer’s Life by Tessa Duder (HarperCollins, 2005). See also The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (OUP, 1998).
Margaret's 1991 lecture - Surprising Moments is available for download
Selected bibliography:
  • The Lion in the Meadow illustrated by Jenny Williams (Dent / Franklin Watts 1969).
  • The Dragon of an Ordinary Family illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Franklin Watts1969).
  • Pillycock's Shop illustrated by Carol Barker (Franklin Watts 1969).  
  • Mrs Discombobulous illustrated by Jan Brychta (Dent / Franklin Watts 1969).  
  • The Procession illustrated by Charles Mozley (Dent 1969).  
  • Sailor Jack and the 20 Orphans illustrated by Robert Bartelt (Dent 1970).  
  • The Little Witch illustrated by Charles Mozley (Dent / Franklin Watts 1970).  
  • The Princess and the Clown illustrated by Carol Barker (Franklin Watts & Dobson1971).
  • The Boy with Two Shadows illustrated by Jenny Williams (Dent 1971).
  • The First Margaret Mahy Story Book illustrated by Shirley Hughes (Dent 1972).
  • The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate illustrated by Brian Froud (Dent 1972).  
  • 17 Kings and 42 Elephants illustrated by Charles Mozley (Dent 1972).
  • The Railway Engine and the Hairy Brigands illustrated by Brian Froud (Dent 1973).
  • The Second Margaret Mahy Story Book illustrated by Shirley Hughes (Dent 1973).
  • Clancy's Cabin illustrated by Trevor Stubley (Dent 1974).
  • The Bus Under the Leaves illustrated by Margery Gill (Dent 1974).
  • The Rare Spotted Birthday Party illustrated by Belinda Lyon (Franklin Watts 1974).  
  • Stepmother illustrated by Terry Burton (Franklin Watts 1974).
  • Rooms to Let illustrated by Jenny Williams (Dent 1974; published in the US, by Franklin Watts, as Rooms for Rent).
  • The Witch in the Cherry Tree illustrated by Jenny Williams (Dent 1974).
  • Ultra-violet Catastrophe!: The Unexpected Qalk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle illustrated by Brian Froud (Dent 1975).
  • New Zealand: Yesterday and Today (Franklin Watts 1975).
  • The Third Margaret Mahy Story Book illustrated by Shirley Hughes (Dent 1975).
  • The Great Millionaire Kidnap illustrated by Jan Brychta (Dent 1975).
  • The Boy Who was Followed Home illustrated by Steven Kellogg (Franklin Watts 1975).
  • Leaf Magic illustrated by Jenny Williams (Dent 1976).
  • David’s Witch Doctor illustrated by Jim Russell (Watts 1976).
  • The Wind Between the Stars illustrated by Brian Froud (J.M. Dent & Sons 1976).
  • Look under V illustrated by Deirdre Gardiner (School Publications Branch, Dept. of Education 1977).
  • Non-stop Nonsense illustrated by Quentin Blake (J.M. Dent & Sons 1977).
  • The Pirate Uncle illustrated by Mary Dinsdale (J.M. Dent & Sons 1977).  
  • The Great Piratical Rumbustification, &, The Librarian and the Robbers illustrated by Quentin Blake (J.M. Dent 1978).
  • Raging robots & Unruly Uncles illustrated by Peter Stevenson (Dent 1981).
  • The Haunting (Dent 1982).
  • The Chewing-gum Rescue and Other Stories illustrated by Jan Ormerod (Dent 1982).  
  • The Pirates' Mixed-up Voyage: Dark Doings in the Thousand Islands illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Dent 1983).  
  • The Birthday burglar, &, A Very Wicked Headmistress illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Dent 1984).
  • The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (Dent 1984).
  • The Dragon's Birthday illustrated by Philip Webb (Shortland 1984).  
  • The Catalogue of the Universe (Dent 1985).
  • Jam: A True Story illustrated by Helen Craig (Dent 1985).
  • The Tricksters (J.M. Dent & Sons 1986).
  • Aliens in the Family (Scholastic 1986).  
  • The Girl Who Washed in Moonlight illustrated by Robyn Belton (Heinemann 1987).
  • Memory (Dent 1987).
  • The Door in the Air and Other Stories illustrated by Diana Catchpole (Dent 1988).
  • The Blood-and-thunder Adventure on Hurricane Peak illustrated by Wendy Smith (Dent 1989).  
  • The Great White Man-eating Shark: A Cautionary Tale illustrated by Jonathan Allen (Dent 1989).
  • The Tin Can Band and Other Poems illustrated by Honey de Lacey (Dent 1989).
  • The Seven Chinese Brothers illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng (Macmillan / Scholastic 1989)
  • Making friends illustrated by Wendy Smith (Dent / M.K. McElderry Books 1990).
  • The Pumpkin Man and the Crafty Creeper illustrated by Helen Craig (Jonathan Cape 1990).
  • Dangerous Spaces (Hamish Hamilton 1991).
  • Bubble Trouble and Other Poems and Stories illustrated by Tony Ross (Hamish Hamilton 1991).
  • The Horrendous Hullabaloo illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy (Hamish Hamilton 1992).
  • Underrunners (Hamish Hamilton / Viking 1992).
  • The Girl With the Green Ear: Stories about Magic in Nature illustrated by Shirley Hughes (A A Knopf 1992).
  • The Good Fortunes Gang illustrated by John Farman [Cousins quarter; book one] (Doubleday 1993).
  • A Fortunate Name illustrated by Marion Young [Cousins quartet; book two] (Delacorte 1993).
  • A Fortune Branches Out illustrated by John Farman [Cousins quarter; book three] (Doubleday 1993).
  • Tangled Fortunes illustrated by John Farman [Cousins quarter; book four] (Doubleday 1994).
  • The Three-legged Cat illustrated by Jonathan Allen (Hamish Hamilton 1993).
  • A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (Hamish Hamilton 1993).
  • The Greatest Show Off Earth illustrated by Wendy Smith (Hamish Hamilton 1994).
  • The Dragon's Telephone illustrated by Christine Ross (Telecom New Zealand 1994).
  • The Rattlebang Picnic illustrated by Steven Kellogg (Dial Books 1994).
  • The Christmas Tree Tangle illustrated by Anthony Kerins (Hamish Hamilton 1994).
  • The Big Black Bulging Bump illustrated by Robert Staermose (Scholastic 1995).
  • Tingleberries, Tuckertubs and Telephones: A Tale of Love and Ice-cream illustrated by Robert Staermose (Hamish Hamilton 1995).
  • The Other Side of Silence (Hamish Hamilton / Viking 1995).
  • Boom, Baby, Boom, Boom! illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy (Hamish Hamilton 1996).
  • The Five Sisters illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy (Hamish Hamilton 1996).
  • Questions Kids Ask Margaret Mahy (Scholastic 1996).
  • Beaten by a Balloon illustrated by Jonathan Allen (Hamish Hamilton / Penguin 1997).
  • Operator Terror illustrated by Ron Tiner (Puffin 1997).
  • The Horribly Haunted School illustrated by Robert Staermose (Hamish Hamilton 1997).
  • A Summery Saturday Morning illustrated by Selina Young (Hamish Hamilton 1998).  
  • Down in the Dump with Dinsmore illustrated by Stephen Axelsen [Kiwi Bites] (Puffin 1999).
  • A Villain's Night Out illustrated by Harry Horse (Puffin 1999).
  • Simply Delicious! illustrated by Jonathan Allen (Frances Lincoln 1999).
  • 24 hours (Margaret K. McElderry Books / Collins 2000).
  • Down the Dragon's Tongue illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy (Frances Lincoln 2000).
  • A Dissolving Ghost: Essays and More (Victoria University Press 2000).
  • The Riddle of the Frozen Phantom illustrated by Chris Mould (Collins 2001).
  • Dashing Dog! illustrated by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln 2002).
  • Alchemy (Collins Flamingo 2002).
  • Zerelda's Horses illustrated by Gabriella Klepatski [Kiwi Bites] (Puffin 2005).
  • Maddigan's Fantasia [also published as Maddigan's Quest] (HarperCollins 2005).  
  • Kaitangata Twitch (Allen & Unwin 2005).  
  • Portable Ghosts (HarperCollins 2006).
  • Down the Back of the Chair illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Frances Lincoln 2006).  
  • Family Surprises illustrated by Lyn Kriegler [Kiwi Bites] (Puffin 2006).
  • Bubble Trouble illustrated by Polly Dunbar Frances Lincoln 2008).
  • The Magician of Hoad [also published as Heriot] (HarperCollins 2008).
  • Awesome Aotearoa: Margaret Mahy’s History of New Zealand illustrated by Trace Hodgson (AUT University Media 2009).
  • The Dark Blue 100-ride Bus Ticket (HarperCollins 2009).
  • The Word Witch: The Magical Verse of Margaret Mahy edited by Tessa Duder, illustrated by David Elliot (HarperCollins 2009).
  • Organ Music (Gecko Press 2010).
  • The Moon and Farmer McPhee illustrated by David Elliot (Random House 2010).
  • The Margaret Mahy Treasury: Eleven Favourite Stories from the Marvellous Margaret Mahy (Puffin 2011).
  • The Man from the Land of Fandango illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Frances Lincoln 2012).
  • Mister Whistler illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press 2012).
  • Footsteps in the Fog illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Penguin 2012).
  • The Word Witch updated edition, with accompanying CD.


  • Esther Glen Award 1970 for The Lion in the Meadow.
  • Esther Glen Award 1973 for The First Margaret Mahy Story Book.
  • The Carnegie Medal 1982 for The Haunting.
  • Esther Glen Award 1983 for The Haunting.
  • The Carnegie Medal 1984 for The Changeover.
  • Esther Glen Award 1985 for The Changeover.
  • Esther Glen Award 1988 shortlist for Memory.
  • Esther Glen Award 1990 shortlist for The Blood-and-thunder Adventure on Hurricane Peak.
  • Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal 1991.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1992 Fiction shortlist for Dangerous Spaces.
  • Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Canterbury University 1993.  
  • Esther Glen Award 1993 for Underrunners.
  • AIM Children’s Book Awards 1993 Junior Fiction shortlist for Underrunners.
  • Order of New Zealand 1993.  
  • Esther Glen Award 1995 shortlist for The Greatest Show Off Earth.
  • Esther Glen Award 1996 shortlist for Tingleberries, Tuckertubs and Telephones.
  • Esther Glen Award 1997 shortlist for The Other Side of Silence.
  • Antarctic Arts Fellow 1998.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999 Picture Book Winner for A Summery Saturday Morning.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999 Book of the Year for A Summery Saturday Morning.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2000 Junior Fiction Honour Book for A Villain’s Night Out.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2000 Junior Fiction for Down in the Dump with Dinsmore.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2000 Junior Fiction for A Villain's Night Out.
  • Esther Glen Award 2001 for 24 Hours.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2001 Senior Fiction Honour Book for 24 Hours.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2001 Senior Fiction list for 24 Hours.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2002 Junior Fiction shortlist for The Riddle of the Frozen Phantom.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2002 Picture Book list for Down the Dragon's Tongue.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2002 Junior Fiction list for The Riddle of the Frozen Phantom
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2003 Senior Fiction Winner for Alchemy.
  • Esther Glen Award 2003 shortlist for Alchemy.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2003 Picture Books list for Dashing Dog.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2003 Senior Fiction list for Alchemy.
  • Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement 2005 - Fiction.
  • Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Awards 2005.
  • Honorary Doctorate from Waikato University 2005.  
  • Phoenix Award 2005 for The Catalogue of the Universe.
  • The Hans Christian Andersen Award 2006.
  • Sir Julius Vogel Services to Science Fiction and Fantasy Award 2006.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2006 Senior Fiction Honour Award for Kaitangata Twitch.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2006 Junior Fiction shortlist for Maddigan’s Fantasia.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2006 Junior Fiction list for Maddigan's Fantasia.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2006 Senior Fiction list for Kaitangata Twitch.
  • Phoenix Award 2006 Honor Book for The Tricksters.
  • Phoenix Award 2007 for Memory.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2007 Picture Books List - Special Mention for Down the Back of the Chair.
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2009 Picture Book Winner for Bubble Trouble.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2010 Picture Book finalist and Honour Award for The Word Witch.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2011 Picture Books List for The Moon and Farmer McPhee.
  • Storylines Notable Books 2011 Young Adult Fiction list for Organ Music.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2011 Picture Book winner for The Moon and Farmer McPhee.
  • New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2011 Book of the Year for The Moon and Farmer McPhee.

Storylines thanks for their ongoing support of the Storylines website.

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