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 Picture Books Author of the Month
Margaret Mahy
Margareet Mahy
21 March 1936 -- ???

Margaret Mahy was born on March 21, 1936 in Whakatane on the North Island of New Zealand to Frances George and May (Penlington) Mahy. Margaret was the oldest in a family of five children. Her father was a builder and her mother was a teacher.

Her grandparents left England in 1909 and settled in Whakatane, which is a Maori word. The Maori are the natives of the islands that make up New Zealand. As she was growing up, Margaret could see the plume of steam rising from nearby White Island, which is a living volcano. Before she could write, Margaret would often make up rhymes about the volcano and other aspects of nature. She began writing these poems down when she was seven years old.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Zealand in 1958. The following year, she received a Diploma of Librarianship. Upon graduation, Margaret took a position as an assistant librarian at the Petone Public Library in Petone, New Zealand. She worked there until 1959.

In 1967, Margaret became the head of the School Library Service in Christchurch, New Zealand. She worked there until she took a position as a children's librarian at the Canterbury Public Library, also in Christchurch, in 1976. Margaret left her position to became a full time writer in 1980.

Margaret was asked to serve as the writer-in-residence at Canterbury University in 1984 and at the Western Australian College of Advanced Education in 1985.

Looking back on her reasons for writing, Margaret once said, "I have been interested in writing children's stories for many years. There are certain sorts of story [ad hic] and certain uses of language which seem most appropriate in stories intended for children. It is almost as if there are certain images left over, insufficiently assimilated during one's own childhood. All stories, even the simplest ones, seem to be little pieces of biography even if what one is recounting is only one's childhood games and dreams." [1]

She has written more than fifty books since her first book A Lion in the Meadow was published in 1969.

Margaret currently lives in Governor's Bay, Lyttleton Harbour on South Island in New Zealand with her husband Robinson. She has lived in her home for the last twenty-five years. The bay is in the shell of an old volcano. She has two daughters, Penelope Helen and Bridget Frances, Penelope lives in a house next door while her younger daughter Bridget lives in Auckland. She shares her vegetable garden with them and their two little girls, Alice and Poppy. When she is home, she spends a great deal of time, writing and playing with her granddaughters. Her home is filled with pets such as cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits and ponies.

Information for this biography was taken from:
    1)Anne Commire (ed.). Something About the Author, #14; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1978.
    4) Margaret Mahy. My Mysterious World; Richard C. Owens Publishers, Inc.: Katonah, NY, 1995.

    3) "Margaret Mahy, 1936-", Gale Literary Databases;http://www.galenet.com.
    4)"Margaret Mahy", Kaleidoscope 6; http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/k6/mahy.html.
    5) Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast (ed.). St. James Guide to Children's Writers; St. James Press: Detroit, 1999.

E-Mahy The Boy With Two Shadows (1987) -- A young boy who agrees to take care of a witch's shadow while she is on vacation finds that having two shadows creates some unexpected problems.

E-Mahy A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother (1993) -- An ultra-modern grandmother, Mrs. Oberon, comes to her son's rescue--by land, sea, and air--with a piece of cock-a-hoop honey cake, the only thing that will keep her teething grandson from crying.

E-MAH Making Friends (1991) -- Small MRs. de Vere's large dog Titania and large Mr. Derry's small dog Oberon serve as the instruments that bring their masters together in an unexpected but quite successful friendship.

E-MAH The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate (1972) -- A man gives up his office job and runs off to sea with his old mother, who used to be a pirate.

E-MAH My Wonderful Aunt - Story One (1988) -- The adventurous life of an aunt who socializes with zoo animals.

E-MAH My Wonderful Aunt - Story Two (1988) -- Read about a wonderful aunt who will do anything once.

E-MAH My Wonderful Aunt -Story Three (1988) -- Join a wonderful aunt as she bakes some of the most amazing pies ever seen.

E-MAH My Wonderful Aunt - Story Four (1988) -- The adventurous life of a wonderful aunt who builds a house in the forest.

E-MAH A Pet to the Vet (1987) -- As the neighbors wait in the veterinarian's waiting room with their sick pets, a chain of events begins which cures almost all of them.

E-MAH The Pop Group (1987) -- A mouse escapes capture by his own cunning, leaving his captors inspired enough to form a pop group more interested in singing than mousing.

J-LPeD-MAH The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance (1984) -- When her baby brother seems to become possessed by an evil spirit, fourteen-year-old Laura seeks the help of a strangely compelling older boy at school whom she is convinced has supernatural powers.

J-P-MAH Dangerous Spaces (1991) -- Flora has always known that her house is haunted, but things have taken a sinister turn since her orphaned cousin Anthea moved in.

J-Mahy The Girl With the Green Hair: Stories About Magic in Nature (1992) -- A collection of stories in which characters encounter talking plants, a pine-tree man, a merry-go-round with flying horses, mystical midnight birds, and a cake-eating tree.

J-P-MAH (1983) -- After a shy and withdrawn eight-year-old begins receiving frightening supernatural images and messages, he learns about a family legacy which could be considered a curse or a rare gift.

"Margaret Mahy", Kaleidoscope 6 (http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/k6/mahy.html) -- This site provides a brief biography of Mahy.

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