Sunday, October 14, 2012

Margaret Mahy Books

Margaret Mahy A Writer's Life: A literary portrait of New Zealands best-loved children's author by Tessa Duder (Harper Collins)

Harper Collins and Tessa Duder have updated Margaret Mahy's literary biography to include an epilogue about Margaret Mahy's last seven years. Tessa details how the news of Margaret's death rocked the nation. The Prime Minister and Minister of Parliaments recorded tributes on the halyard. People from all over the world and New Zealand sent their condolensces and wrote tributes for newspapers.  Not since the death of Sir Peter Blake had the country so responded.  One funeral and two memorial gatherings later, people were acknowledging that Margaret was our most famous and treasured author ever.  (Numerous leading figures were saying that she was as famous as Kathryn Mansfield and Janet Frame - and children's authors were saying: actually, she was much bigger than them. She was translated into more languages, sold more books, and was more well known than the two of them together.) 

Tessa delicately talks about Margaret's illness; diagnosed months before her death.  And how, even in her failing health she wrote several more picture books that came out posthumously. Tessa also includes the 70th birthday bash for Margaret, her two biggest novels over the last seven years and their televised versions.  How it hadn't occurred to anyone to publish an anthology of Margaret's poetry until one of her friends wrote to Tessa to say how nice it would be.  That galvanised Tessa to collect Margaret's poems, David Elliot spent six months drawing the illustrations and then Harper Collins published a gorgeous hardback book called 'The Word Witch' (see below). Tessa ends with why Margaret made such an impact on adults and children in the literary world.

Also included in the revised book (first published 2005) are an updated bibliography, notes, awards and honours, and new photos. It also has a new cover and I'd have to be honest and say that I preferred the first cover best; with Margaret and her dog, though I can understand that they wanted to bring a bit of colour to the cover.  If you're a Margaret Mahy fan - then you'll thoroughly enjoy poring over this literary biography about Margaret's writing, ideas and books.

RRP $39.00 paperback with flaps.

The Word Witch by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by David Elliot (Harper Collins)

This wonderful book of poetry was first published in hardback in 2009. It  includes 66 poems and is accompanied by one of New Zealand's best illustrator's - David Elliot's - gorgeous artwork. This time it is out in paperback with flaps. It also includes a CD with recordings of Margaret reciting 12 poems including favourites such as Down the Back of the Chair and Dashing Dog, which have also been published as picture books.

The book was in the bestseller list for months (in 2009) and has achieved Bronze bestseller status, which means 5000 books or more have been sold.  So for a cheaper price (hardback $46.00) you this time get a recording of Margaret reciting some of the poems.  Every school, library and home should have a copy.  When my children were little they were given a beautiful collection of Roald Dahl's stories and poems by their grandparents.  I suspect this will be a popular gift from grandparents to their grandchildren too.

RRP $39.00 paperback with flaps.

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