There are certain times when the death of someone well known affects you. Often when someone well known passes you have a brief ‘oh that’s sad’ moment, other times you feel something personally. Yesterday New Zealand Children’s Author Margaret Mahy died after a short battle with cancer and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like a part of their childhood just died with her.
One of my favourite books as a child was Mahy’s first book The Lion in the Meadow, it’s all about a little girl who tries to tell her mother that there’s a lion in the meadow but her mother doesn’t believe her. As a child with an over active imagination perhaps I could relate, or maybe it was a that the story involved a cat of some variety as all my favourite books did; as other favourites were The Tiger who came to Tea and My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes, which has resulted in spending much of my childhood trying to force my cat to sit in boxes and barely controlled glee when my cat DOES hide in boxes.
Even seeing the cover makes me smile – it’s just one of those books.
Margaret Mahy started a strong tradition of writing for younger readers in New Zealand she was discovered by an overseas publisher and was successful outside of New Zealand, other authors have since followed in her footsteps. It shows that it can be done, that you can come from New Zealand, a tiny group of islands at the bottom of the world and be published internationally, that if you write great stories young readers everywhere will read them. Of course I hope one day to do the same thing, to be published and read in all sorts of places, but it was Margaret Mahy who showed it could be done – if you have enough imagination.