I was so sad to hear about Margaret Mahy’s death last night. It still hasn’t sunk in.
I grew up in Christchurch and it always felt magical that, as a child, I could read books written by someone who just lived over the hill from me. I have vivid memories of reading A Lion in the Meadow (1972 edition) and secretly being a bit frightened. I remember seeing The Witch in the Cheery Tree on display in South New Brighton School library.
I was amazed and excited when I discovered she’d been a librarian - I wanted to be a librarian too! And so I was, right from primary school, through high school, as a part time job at University, and now it’s my career.
When my daughter was almost two, she met Margaret Mahy for the first time at the Storylines festival in Christchurch. We saw her perform Down the Back of the Chair and Bubble Trouble in her rolling, roiling, rolicking rhyme.
We took along Iris’s copy of A Lion in the Meadow that she had inherited from her Aunty Moira (1972 edition).
Margaret was beautifully gentle with my little girl, who needed this story read to her everynight (at the time) - and she drew her a fabulous lion. “Happy reading Iris!” said the lion. And this morning, Iris read this book herself, for the first time.
Here’s my storify of Margaret Mahy stories and tributes so far (24.07.12), and a collection of audio as posted by Toby Manhire.