After two earlier nominations of Margaret Mahy for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal (in 2002 and 2004) the New Zealand Section of IBBY (Storylines) was finally successful in 2006, when the IBBY Congress was held in Macau. As part of the nomination process, Storylines prepared a comprehensive dossier, available for purchase here.
Read about the presentation in the report from the IBBY Congress in Macau.
As winner of the 2006 Medal for Writing, Margaret was the undisputed star of the 30th IBBY World Congress held in Macau, according to Storylines Trust chair Dr Libby Limbrick.
Her every appearance at the three days of the Congress, Libby reports, was the signal for delegates from more than 50 countries to request pictures taken, books signed, hands shaken and for many, to share memories of previous meetings.
The highlight was the presentation of the heavy gold Andersen Medal and hand-written scroll on September 21, at a Chinese banquet attended by more than 600 people in the vast main room of the brand-new Fisherman's Wharf Convention Centre on the Macau waterfront.
Supporting Margaret along with Libby were also Tessa Duder, Vicky Jones from Christchurch and the New Zealand Consul-General for Hong Kong and Macau, Julian Ludbrook.
The presentation, captured by a 'media pack' of some 40 including a video journalist for TVNZ, was made by Dr Peter Schneck, outgoing international IBBY president (Austria) and Dr Jeffrey Garrett (USA), chairman of the 10-member Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury. In his emotional Laudatio address, Dr Garrett had, he said, been reading and admiring Margaret's work for 30 years and it was a huge personal pleasure to be the chair of the jury that finally recognised her genius. He also emphasised that the HCA award was the only global children's literature award that was actually judged by a truly international jury made up of multi-lingual children's literature experts. (You can read the full text by visiting his site go to the Laudatio text.)
New Zealand's considerable presence at the Congress was further enhanced by the presentation earlier in the day of an Honour Book Award to novelist V.M. (Vicky) Jones for Juggling with Mandarins (HarperCollins). She joined some 14 other authors and illustrations on the stage to receive certificates for their work being chosen by their respective IBBY Sections as outstanding books of the past two years. Two other New Zealand Honour Book awards, to Hannah Rainforth for her translation of Oh Hogwash, Sweet Pea (Huia) and Pamela Allen for Grandpa and Thomas (Penguin) were also featured the overall list of books.
And on the final day Libby drew an appreciative audience for her paper, 'Closing the literacy gaps in New Zealand - what is the role of literature,' in which she argued for the love and use of literature and books (as opposed to 'texts' taken from context) as integral to successful literacy teaching.
In an IBBY forum, Libby also had the chance to speak for Storylines/IBBY, and the special needs within the 'IBBY family' for small countries remote from the centres of power and cross-border IBBY activities.
The three-day Congress featured plenaries presented by the incoming IBBY president, Canadian Patricia Aldana and a huge variety of academic papers, along with storytelling sessions, and Forums and drama events featuring children. Presentation of the 2006 IBBY - Ashi Reading Promotion Award was also included in the Congress. Mr Dashdondog, dressed in a magnificent sapphire blue traditional costume from Mongolia received an award for his project which delivers books to children in outlying areas of Mongolia by camel. The second award went to a project in Poland for a programme advocating that ‘All of Poland Reads to Kids’.
As compensation for the last-minute transfer of the Congress from Beijing to Macau, the organisers flew delegates at the close of the festival to Beijing.
Margaret, Libby and Tessa enjoyed three days in Beijing as the guests of the New Zealand Ambassador H.E. Tony Browne and his family. On their final night, hosting a formal Embassy dinner party for 30 people, Tony Browne paid a graceful tribute on behalf of the New Zealand Government to Margaret's lifetime contribution to world children's literature, and her eminence as an outstanding New Zealander.
Among the guests were Jane Edgar and other New Zealanders teaching in Beijing, Chinese writers, publishers and editors, and Charlotte Glennie, former TVNZ Asia staffer now China Correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
While in Beijing, Margaret, Tessa and Libby were splendidly escorted by Susan Browne, the Ambassador’s wife, to some of the renowned sites. The highlights of which were walking together along the Great Wall, negotiating shopping, and visits to bilingual and international schools. (Can you find Margaret in the photo below?)