Nationally acknowledged authority on children's literature, Frances Plumpton has been involved with children’s books for more than 30 years as a member of the Children’s Literature Association, a foundation member of the Children’s Book Foundation, book reviewer, and judge for both the New Zealand Post and LIANZA awards.
She has been involved with the annual Storylines Festival since its inception in 1993, particularly with the organisation of the Story Tour (previously known as the Storybus), which has taken New Zealand authors, illustrators and storytellers to schools and early childhood centres throughout the greater Auckland region.
Frances began her library career at Grey Lynn Library, and spent 25 years with Waitakere Libraries, much of this time as co-ordinator for Children’s and Young Adult Services. In 1989 she received a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to the United Kingdom to look at library services for children and young adults.
She currently provides an early childhood advisory service, Vital Years, and also works part time for Richards Literary Agency and for North Shore Libraries. After many years serving as a member of the Storylines management committee, Frances is now a trustee of the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust.
From Dorothy Butler:
Frances Plumpton tells her own story so well that it is unnecessary for me to outline her activities and accomplishments here. Her childhood, in several remote country districts, lacking access to library or bookshop, might have meant that Frances’s passion for books remained dormant. But hers was a loving family, where both parents valued story, poetry and music, and the books in the home, although not numerous, were read and read again.
I like to think of this as an affirmation of my own firm belief that homes have an unmatched influence in children’s lives. Frances’s home certainly lit the spark that would keep her passion for books and reading alive throughout her life.
But Frances’s resolute nature was surely inborn. Determination and a strong conviction that the world’s children should be welded to books at an early age have characterised her adult life. Her move to the School Library Service (of revered memory) after five years with the Auckland Public Library, affirmed this; Frances was keen to work with ‘the visionary librarian’ Sadie Paul, an experience which might have inspired even a less enthusiastic acolyte towards a fervour for recruiting the young as readers. For Frances the future was clear. She would devote her life to this cause.
Her accomplishments have since been steady, never pretentious, often afflicted with setbacks of other people’s (or organisations’) making, but never failing. In 2007, Frances Plumpton can be said to be one of the most informed, active and accomplished workers in the field of children’s books and reading.
She is a truly worthy recipient of [the Storylines Betty Gilderdale Award].